This mainly residential area of an old fashioned sort - groups of tenements above shops - an increasing rare type of arrangement nowadays. You won't find a pawnshop, charity shop or bookies around here though - the majority of the retailers around here serve niche markets, with clusters of them devoted to art, board games, comic books and - for reasons I can't sufficiently account for - a concentration of tattooist parlours. Where the Merchant City proper is expensive, yuppie-ish and glamorous, SoTro is bohemian and trendy - the kind of place moustachioed hipsters on fixies would be wont to go and be seen. Adding to this flavour are a number of music/art-orientated cafes, bars and restaurants, including the famous 13th Note Cafe - a stalwart of underground Glasgow Indie, Punk and Rock for the last 20 years, as well as being a vegetarian restaurant. For those to whom that isn't pure enough, there's always vegan fare available over in nearby Mono.
Despite it's small area, there's a few things to cover, and it's strategic position by the Clyde makes it every bit as significant for cycles as its northern neighbour.
|King Street Looking South from Candleriggs|
The area pivots around King Street, which we've already encountered before. King Street provides the link between Bridgegate - another ancient Glasgow thoroughfare, now mainly reduced to a one-way four lane racetrack for motor vehicles coming over the Victoria Bridge which have been diverted away from Stockwell Street by the bus-gate (more on this later).
King Street itself is one-way for cars but is two-way for bikes, courtesy of the cycle contraflow, marked out by painted lines and small traffic islands at the end of its junctions with Trongate and Parnie Street. Regrettably, this lane places bikes adjacent to the door zone of parked cars, although in mitigation it is the car's offside, rather than nearside. In addition, the lane is both more generously proportioned than is typical for this sort of arrangement and users ride facing the flow of traffic, meaning that car passengers are at least looking in their direction, thus reducing the likelihood of someone blindly opening the door (and increasing the chance of the rider anticipating that happening).
|Contraflow lane - door-zone(ish)|
Following the lane southbound, we arrive at the crossroads junction with Parine Street, an eastbound one-way street - note the traffic island (replete with damaged sign-age):
|Junction of Parnie Street. Give way to... what exactly?|
Now as you can see, the cycle lane gives way to traffic from the right. There's a missed opportunity here to prioritise bikes across the junction. Northbound traffic on King Street already gives way to the left i.e. the western, two-way section of Parnie Street, which is a de-facto dead-end*. Traffic rarely comes from that direction, thus northbound traffic will tend to blow through the junction as if they have priority (albeit cautiously). Implementing a raised table, in other words raising the crossroads up to meet the pavement, removing the give way lines (thus creating a form of "unmarked crossroads") and prominently outlining a cycle lane with either paint or (preferably) a different road surface would give actual and perceived priority to southbound cycles. The desirability for northbound vehicles turning right here is already diminished (see next section), thus it seems natural to reinforce the primacy of southbound bikes even further.
|2nd half of the contraflow. No priority here for bikes|
|A little green bike means "go"|
|Kings Court Panorama|
(*) strictly speaking, it is legal to drive down "New Wynd", but that is a very narrow lane, usually blocked by bins and suchlike - pretty much the only traffic going along here consists of vehicles accessing the side of the Britannica Panopticon Music Hall and refuse lorries.
|Parnie Street looking East|
|A bike shop on Parnie Street - they love bikes "alot"(sic)|
As said above, from the northern junction with King Street to its southern junction... with King Street, it's a one-way street (Eastbound). The little quirk I hint at above is due to the odd layout, which virtually doubles back on itself, hairpin-like. As this is also quite an old bit of the city, presumably in the past the roadway has been physically joined to Saltmarket, which would have meant an appreciable level of through traffic. Fortunately, forward-thinking highway engineers of the past closed off that junction and laid a footway instead. Happily, in more recent times they've added a cycle pathway here too, thus allowing cycles to legally traverse the gap with Saltmarket.
|Archetypal Filtered Permeability between Parnie Street and Saltmarket|
Unfortunately, this merely leads to a toucan crossing, which in turns leads to a narrow shared footway. I'm not sure what else they could have practically done here but the shared space element is a definite failure. You have to get across busy Saltmarket somehow - a zebra crossing on a raised table would be an option perhaps? It is a potentially significant route as it leads to the new segregated infrastructure, which will be the subject of a future posting.
|Chisholm Street looking north - Albion Street in the background|
After the dogleg, Parnie Street meets King Street again and continues west towards Stockwell Street, where right-turns are prohibited for motor vehicles other than buses and taxis, thus preventing its use as a means of by-passing the bus-gate south of the junction (and thus preventing journeys via Glassford Street).
(*) Edit: Since writing this, I have travelled this route by car and can advise that I was wrong - this route IS potentially rat-runnable. I've amended the Analysis section accordingly
Trongate and Glasgow Cross
|Glasgow Cross Panorama from South-east to West - the road was so busy it was impossible to get a clean shot|
|Westbound on Trongate|
|Panorama of Trongate's junction with Albion Street and Chisholm Street, looking north-west|
|Old Wynd - ironically newer than "New Wynd"|
Moving Westwards again, we cross Glassford Street again and reach Argyle Street, specifically its pedestrianized precinct, which extends to the junction with Queen Street, with a widened footway extending to Central Station. Notice that the "road" is demarcated with different coloured paving stones - there is limited access here for loading (like Candleriggs at very limited times) and this is technically the route down which bikes ought to travel:
|Argyle Street's Pedestrian Precinct - allows bikes|
|Looking north along Virginia Street from Argyle Street|
AnalysisSome of the analysis of routes has already been covered in previous postings but its worth reiterating the problems with King Street - its current design ensures that it forms the backbone of a northbound rat-run - given the retail and residential nature of parts of the area it runs through, there is far too much unnecessary through traffic - it is simply too easy to drive into the city centre this way, compared to other routes.
I believe the solution is relatively simple: prohibit right turns for motor vehicles at the junction with Trongate. Combined with closing off Hutcheson Street (as described in Part 2), the result would be that the only meaningful journey which could be made via this route is a loop back down Stockwell Street, a route made pointless by an existing shorter one via Parnie Street. As such, through traffic would be drastically reduced, whilst local access would be retained and (crucially) cycle traffic would remain uninhibited.
It would still be possible to reach all the same parts of the city in a car, but access would be constrained to a handful of circuitous, time-consuming routes and would inevitably involve travel along busy thoroughfares (Saltmarket, Glasgow Cross and High Street) - these main roads would then be treated to the various segregation/separation techniques the Dutch currently apply to their equivalent routes. The changes I propose are inexpensive and could be trialled temporarily as part of a traffic study. The fact that it's so easy makes me wonder if this idea hasn't already been considered and subsequently dismissed for whatever reason.
Edit: There is another (partial) rat-run I hadn't properly considered before: travelling southbound from Albion Street to The Albert Bridge via Chisholm Street:
|(c) Google Maps|
Glasgow Cross and High Street require further study - I suspect the solution will have to involve big detours to circumvent the whole area, perhaps incorporating the Clyde Gateway road scheme. Another post will discuss this in the future.