by Rachel Whalley May 17th, 2017
The BearsWay project is an important initiative for increasing sustainable transport. It has sadly been shouted down by a small but vocal minority who do not like the changes. They have been reiterating several pieces of misinformation (below), and it seems that the local councillors have been swayed by their rhetoric.
Many of the councillors who voted for the amendment which scrapped Phase 2 of the BearsWay did so in opposition to their own parties’ sustainable transport policies (Lib Dem and SNP councillors, specifically).
Some of the misinformation presented by the opponents to the BearsWay:
1) They claim that the road has been narrowed to an unsafe width, and is difficult to drive on, and that emergency response vehicles are unable to pass cars.
Having had discussions with Blue Flag drivers, ROSPA advanced drivers, Driving Instructors, the Police, and Ambulance drivers, there is no evidence to support this assertion. If one drives to the speed limit (30mph), there is no difficulty navigating the traffic calming measures. We suspect that a number of people who used to drive the road at speeds in excess of the limit are angry that they can no longer do so. I have not spoken to an Ambulance Driver who had an issue with the width of the road.
2) They state that a majority of residents are against the proposals.
There is no evidence whatsoever for this. There was a petition against the BearsWay which gathered 2,500 signatures, a number of whom are not local. There are 30,000 people local to the area, and 18,000 daily journeys on the road.
3) They complain that cyclists do not use the cycleway provided.
This has been measured, and 92% of cyclists use the segregated cycle lane. There are several possible reasons for the minority not using it, including:
It is very difficult to enter the cycle lane Northbound, as it requires crossing a busy lane of oncoming traffic, which is particularly difficult during peak times.
Some cyclists were unaware of the cycleway, as it is not well signposted.
The link from Burnbrae Roundabout to the crossing at MacDonalds is awkward to negotiate, and interrupts the route – it is far more straightforward Southbound to stick to the road for 200 yards until the crossing point moves the cycle lane to the left hand side of the road (and this also holds up traffic less than using the crossing lights)
The BearsWay is not finished – the remaining phases would have addressed the issues in getting on to the cycleway safely.
4) The reduced lanes cause congestion.
5) There was nothing wrong with the road as it was, and therefore no need to change it.
Note that 3,000 cyclists are KSI’d (Killed or Seriously Injured) on UK roads each year. This number is rising year on year. These deaths are caused by collisions with motor vehicles, most commonly when a motor vehicle driver violates the cyclist’s right of way.
Firstly, the old cycle lanes were poorly marked, and often poorly maintained as well;
Cars regularly parked in them (they still do on the section from the Burnbrae Roundabout to Milngavie Precinct);
Motor vehicles regularly cut into them in order to cut corners;
Motor vehicles tended to drive faster than the speed limit.
To conclude, a quote from an excellent article (Blog) on the need for change (Source here: http://www.magnatom.net/2016/09/east-dunbartonshire-time-for-change.html)
It’s not easy of course, because Change never is. It involves making some sacrifices. It means that a road might have to be a wee bit narrower. It means that occasionally you might have to wait behind a bus for 20 seconds. It means that occasionally at junctions, priorities might need to be adjusted. The odd parking space has to be lost!
It feels like our liberties are being taken away from us.
Are we truly free though? Is having a congestion free dual carriage way Bearsden Road which you can zoom down at 40 mph without impediment in your car really freedom? Only to be stuck in 2 miles of nose to tail traffic on the Switchback Road, which is already dual carriage way, so perhaps we need three lanes each way? What about those that can’t drive, perhaps as they are too young, can’t afford it, or are not able to through disability. Sure, the bus is one option, but it will never truly provide the freedom that we yearn, by taking us from where we live to where-ever we want to go. It will help to some extent, and is part of the integrated solution, but it is not the whole answer.
Freedom only comes when all those who wish to travel, by whatever means they wish, can do it in a way that is safe, comfortable and convenient. As London, and countless other examples demonstrate, if you build it, they will truly come. And they will come with the many, many benefits that having a significant percentage of your populations travelling actively will bring.
So I call on the politicians and especially the councillors of East Dunbartonshire to think carefully about the future. Not just their own future, or at the ballot box next year, but for the future of an area I am sure they really do care for. I ask for them to consider that Change, even politically difficult Change is not only desirable, but needed for the area to flourish. Yes there is a strong local voice against it, but then many of them don’t want children to have freedom of safe movement. Is that what you and your party stand for? Really?
If they choose not to invest in active travel, the area will drown under the weight of the motor vehicle, something that even many of the opponents of the BearsWay agree is an issue. Be on the side of change. Be on the side of a brighter, healthier, less polluted, less congested East Dunbartonshire.