For my inaugural posting, I'm going to be looking at one of the key social destinations in Glasgow, The Merchant City. Despite it being a relatively compact area, there's quite a lot to cover, hence I'm splitting my survey into a few parts.
|Eastbound on Bridgegate - one of Glasgow's oldest Streets|
The name "Merchant City" is a relatively recent invention - part of a marketing strategy dating from when council and local businesses started to gentrify the area in the 1980s as part of Glasgow's post-industrial revival. Prior to that it was an extension of Trongate or Glasgow Cross (the oldest part of the city) and had gone into a state of decline. Bear in mind that the whole area was due for demolition as part of the grand road-building plans of the 60s and 70s, which would have seen the city centre completely encircled by a ring road - thankfully, they stopped their plan prior to the Southern and Eastern legs being completed. Today, the area hosts various boutique hotels, shops, high-end restaurants, pubs and clubs, with expensive residential properties to boot - it's a kind of city-centre foil to the West End's Ashton Lane and Byres Road.
The definition of area is slightly amorphous, with some ancillary streets which could arguably be included. For the purposes of this post, I define it as being roughly bounded by Ingram Street to the north, Argyle Street to the South*, Glassford Street** to the West and High Street to the East. The western part of the area is bisected by Wilson Street, with the eastern part being split by Bell Street. I'm going to go from west to east, starting with the area around Glassford Street.
|The Merchant City - image courtesy of Google Maps|
(*) with one exception - see a future post for details
(**) another exception - see next section
Glassford Street & Surrounds
|Corner of Glassford Street and Trongate looking east - note the steel "Merchant City" sign to the right of the picture|
|Bus Gate Northbound on Glassford Street|
|The first of the car-parks that serve the area|
Other than the bus lane and the ASLs, there are no other facilities for bikes on this road. Despite the bus gate, the road is generally quite busy with buses and taxis - it's also quite popular with cyclists commuting from the southside.
Wilson Street - West, Virginia Street and Virginia Place
|The corner of Wilson and Glassford Street, northbound - note the ASL|
|Wilson Street, Eastbound - note the wheelchair user in the road|
|Virginia Street - Southbound towards Argyle Street|
Virginia Street joins to Argyle Street's pedestrian precinct. Scots law allows bicycles on all paths that aren't adjacent to a road, which means that, unlike in England, bikes are permitted on all pedestrian precincts unless explicitly banned (and there'd have to be a good justification for any exclusion).
|Virginia Street looking Northbound - a dead-end (for cars)|
|Closer view of bollards between Virginia Street and Virginia Place|
It isn't all built for bikes though - to the western side of Virginia Place is a pedestrian path* - the finest grain level of filtered permeability. The potential grimness of this lane is mitigated slightly by the fairy light canopy above.
|Fairy lights = less grim|
As stated above, Virginia Place leads to Ingram Street, thus providing a potential short-cut for people travelling on bikes between Argyle Street and George Square.
|Virginia Place - not pretty but potentially useful|
One last detail I'd like to add before leaving this area - the raised footpath across Virginia place correctly prioritises pedestrians over vehicular access. There are a few examples of this throughout Glasgow, although they haven't quite managed to extend it to pedestrians and bikes yet.
|Priority as it should be in a city centre|
(*) edit: It occurred to me after I posted this that, as per Scots Law, there isn't any reason why bikes cannot use this path - there certainly aren't any signs banning them here. Again potentially useful as it allows you to bypass the traffic lights at the junction of Ingram Street and South Frederick Street.