Cyclists stage protest on Byres Road over bike lane plans that offer ‘no protection’

By Ian Marland at

Cyclists have made their feelings known about the City Deal upgrade planned for Byres Road.

A group staged a protest on Thursday evening – just 24 hours after consultation on revised plans opened.

A number of riders sprayed chalk paint along the length of the road.

Cycle protests

No paint: a protester makes a point on Byres Road about lack of segregated cycle lanes

The messages read: ‘Paint is not protection.’

They also created a human barrier to represent a ‘physical’ cycle lane.

Cyclists are unhappy at the absence of segregated cycle lanes within the revised proposals for improvements to the public realm along Byres Road now being consulted on.

As reported Thursday, the plans have gone on show in the West End and comments are being invited from interested parties.

Under the plans, around 70 of the current 117 on-street parking bays will disappear, a one-way system will be introduced at the southern end of the road, pavements will be widened and the road will narrow to slow down traffic.

But cyclists say they are disappointed at the lack of segregation on the lanes, branding the plans as “potentially dangerous” and “nothing better than paint on the road”.

Iona Shepherd is co-vonvenor of GoBike the Strathclyde Cycle Campaign.

Cycle protests

Proposals: cyclists say the plans as they stand offer no more protection to cyclists than paint on the road

She said: “The cycle lanes drawn up in these plans have been called safe in the proposals and that is simply not true.

“The stone setts might look nice, but they offer no physical protection from the high volume of traffic passing through Byres Road.

“Each time the lanes are blocked by parking cars, buses, loading lorries and the inevitable debris swept to the side of the road, people on bikes will be forced into the stream of motor traffic.”

People with bikes gathered on Byres Road to state their claim that non physical separation such as paint, offers no protection from larger and faster moving vehicles.

The protesters used temporary chalk stencils along the length of the street.

‘NOTHING TO ADDRESS HIGH POLLUTION’

Iona said: “We have spent months consulting behind the scenes with the designers of the street and have found that despite the best efforts of city councillors, the constraints that the City Region Deal have put on the project from the outset, mean that active travel has not been given the priority the Scottish government promises within its transport hierarchy.

“Failure to introduce measures to reduce traffic volumes does nothing to address the high pollution or accident levels on Byres Road, and it is hard to see how the environment of the street will be improved.

“Providing safe space for people to actively travel to and through high streets has been shown time and again to provide not just health and environmental benefits, but also economic benefits to the people friendly places they create.”

Euan Muir from the local campaign group ‘Space for People Byres Road’ said: “Byres Road is currently fraught with potential conflict and has one of the worst safety records for cycling in the city.

Cycle protest

Arms: cyclists created a physical barrier to make their case for a segregated cycle lane

“The current proposals fail to create a safe cycling environment and instead look to perpetuate danger and continue to suppress cycling.

“We do welcome the improvements to the pavements and side streets, giving people a safe place to walk without fear of motor traffic, but these same people are then being expected to mix with motor traffic when cycling.

“Space for People Byres Road developed safe cycling designs, demonstrating how to make cycling safe on this high street, but we have seen little of these suggestions implemented.”

Patrick Harvie MSP, Co-Convenor of the Scottish Green Party said: “The investment in Byres Rd could result in the biggest change to people’s experience of the area for decades, so it’s vital that we don’t miss the opportunity to achieve a result that works for everybody.

“The road is unsafe for walking and cycling, and dominated by congested traffic and polluted air. That needs to change, and GoBike are right to say that safe, segregated bike space must be part of the final proposal.”