Sunday, 28 September 2014

Clyde Gateway: Part 2


It's been a wee while since I last talked about infrastructure. Have been a bit busy firstly with Cycle Hack (which I promise I will blog about soon), then changing jobs.

In July and August Glasgow hosted the Commonwealth Games, which lead to a lot of external scrutiny on the city, and with that a focus on our cycling facilities. There was some fuss over disruption to cycle routes, many of which were closed due to their proximity to games venues; somewhat ironic, given that people were being encouraged to walk, cycle and take public transport.

After much delay, I'm going to finish off looking at the Clyde Gateway, the cycle route that runs roughly from M74 J1A to The Forge Retail Park. Part One covered the section from the motorway up to the junction of Dalmarnock Road - this blog post will cover the roadway up to the Emirates Stadium complex, which includes the Sir Chris Hoy velodrome.

A728 and Dalmarnock Road

This next junction is probably the worst feature on the entire road. A few years ago, I used to cycle this way to Dalmarnock train station to catch a train to Blantyre and I started off using this facility. I quickly realised after 2 or 3 near-misses that I was far safer on the road. Here's why. Take a look at this aerial shot, paying particular attention to the footway on the northern side of the road as it joins Dunn Street:

As before, the pavement cycle path re-joins the road but not into the (relative) safety of an ASL. No, this time the path joins explicitly at a feeder lane for a left turn. In the next picture, you'll see a person on a bike at precisely this point. Now imagine he wants to go straight on, as the cycle path indicates. Then imagine that the car travelling just behind decides to turn left. Who has "right of way"?

Lead up to the "killer" corner - look where the arrow directs motor vehicles
I'm not being facetious here - I genuinely don't know. The cycle path has no give way markings but it's also non-mandatory (as indicated by the dashed lines) therefore it is perfectly legal for other vehicles to cross and drive into. My guess is that vehicles should give way to the left, but I'd say a straw poll of drivers would tell you otherwise.

A left-turning car crossing the (non-mandatory) cycle lane
Bear in mind you have what amounts to a dual-carriageway here. With the lights at green and the shallow, forgiving curve onto Dunn St, most left-turning motor vehicles will take this corner at high speed. Again, cycles and cars are approaching the junction parallel to each other and - despite the road markings - cars will presume to have nothing to give way to on their left and will not be expecting to encounter anyone coming from that direction. By way of contrast, look how much further up the first pedestrian crossing is sited and note that you cross the left-lane at right-angles to the road.

I'll be blunt: this junction is of a completely lethal design which should never have seen the light of day. I can only guess that the only reason there hasn't been a serious incident on this junction is due to the very low numbers of users heading in this direction.

Dalmarnock Railway Station

The roadway here has been radically altered from it's original course. In the picture below, the road used to go directly past the building in the mid-ground, then took a sharp right to the original entrance to the station - there was no "straight on" here per se - like M74 J1A, this is all pretty much brand new road.

They seem remarkably proud of this, don't they?

The station is on the right-arm of the expansive four-way junction - note three lanes of traffic

Yet again, we see our path depositing cyclists into the ASL, except there's a new problem. Now, let's say you're on a bike on the cycle path (just like GCC expects you to be), heading for the station. The lights are at green.

How do you turn right?

The answer is: you can't - and you can't even (legally) use the pedestrian crossing (unless you dismount). You would have to stop in the lane and wait for the red light, then sheepishly roll into the ASL.

The refurbished Dalmarnock Station - Forgive me for suggesting that this design won't age well

An expanse of concrete and aluminium fencing, yesterday
Even if we're being charitable about this awful design there are so many oversights. If the expectation is that most people heading this way will be heading for the velodrome (to the left), why don't they allow bikes to bypass the signals? This is the sort of little detail that makes even rubbish infrastructure vaguely useful.

The Velodrome

The entrance to the complex comes via relatively complex staggered junction consisting of two more cycle-path/ASL combo, the latter having the same green light/right turn problem as at the railway station.

...and yet another left-hook opportunity

If you manage to get to the right-turn, you are presented with this:

The junction at the Entrance to the Velodrome
A dedicated right-turn lane in the middle of the junction - fine, but not really dedicated cycle infrastructure is it? Bear in mind this is the entrance to a velodrome. There has been no real effort to emphasise or encourage bikes here, other than the useless ASLs.

Now granted once you are inside, accommodation has been made for bikes... up to a point. The internal roads into the park do not welcome cycles, particularly by including bike-unfriendly infrastructure such as roundabouts. Now you might argue that bikes are expected to ride on the roadway but it just strikes me as odd that even here, there's no further encouragement to cycle in. I suspect the answer is that they really expect users of the arena to drive there (with bikes on roof-racks or suchlike).

Good quality covered cycle parking...

...but no cycle facilities in the car-park. Remember: this is a velodrome

Even leaving the park sends messages that bikes aren't welcome:

Leaving the velodrome... enticing eh?

Not even a dropped kerb
Now if you take another look at the design of the entrance and the car-park, you notice something odd: if you're a pedestrian, you can actually by-pass this and leave the park by a different entrance.

Let's go back to the picture above, where there's a tan area crossing the road - if you turn left (south) there, there's a pedestrian path that takes you to Kinnear Road, and then back on the Gateway. Why isn't this a cycle-able path? It could easily link up with the (sort of useless) painted cycle paths and would have the advantage of avoiding two junctions. Again, little details that would make a big difference...

Celtic Park

Ironically this sign itself is a hazard
Celtic Park was the venue for the opening ceremony (although oddly, not the closing... nope, me neither). Therefore you might say it provided the first impression many visitors would have to our sports facilities. And to be honest, Parkhead itself is quite good... inside. Outside leaves a lot to be desired. They recently demolished an old listed schoolhouse to provide more room for... car parking. Suffice to say there is no cycle parking within the immediate vicinity of the stadium, although there is quite a lot outside:

More Outdoor cycle parking at the front of the Velodrome
One of the great ironies about cycling to and from the games venues was this: you weren't even allowed to park outside! No really: I'm not joking - presumably they feared bike-borne bombs? Therefore all the above cycle parking built especially for it was ... unused throughout... *sigh*.

London Road a.k.a. the A74 - which separates the Velodrome from Celtic Park - is still a busy, uninviting thoroughfare, despite being rendered somewhat superfluous by the extension of the M74. The only place for pedestrians to cross between the Velodrome and Celtic Park is at the junction here:

Two-stage Toucan Crossing
The paths in the immediate vicinity are shared use - presumably in some vague attempt to cover up the fact that no real effort has been made to accommodate cycles. Shared Use as always just represents capitulation - there's a realisation that 4-lane London Road is horrible to cycle on but a lack of any will or imagination to really tackle it, hence let's just chuck them together with people on foot. They won't mind, will they?


Gallowgate is one of Glasgow's oldest throroughfares and is one of the major routes between the old East End and the centre. The cycle paths continue much as they have on the rest of this route - paint on the pavement ending with an ASL.

Strangely, this is the best (and most farcical) element to the Clyde Gateway route: it doesn't actually go anywhere. No really: it basically fizzles out at the Forge Shopping centre and melts into Shettleston Road - it doesn't link up with the motorway as one might expect it to (well, not until about 4 miles further east at Ballieston). There's one last sting in the tail though.

As you can see, we have a repeat of our killer left-hook scenario, whereby left-turning traffic cuts across the path of straight-on bound cycles. In addition, you have a complex series of roundabouts and junctions to provide motor access to the Forge Retail Park - clearly it would never occur to anyone in charge that people might like to cycle to the shops - particularly in the East End where few residents have access to a motor vehicle.

... and that basically concludes our tour of Glasgow's (almost) newest and finest(sic) cycle infrastructure. Bear in mind readers: this is what Glasgow does with a virtual blank slate and generous external funding, all in advance of a once-in-a-lifetime international sporting spectacle which supposedly had the aim of kickstarting the east end's recovery on the way to better health outcomes. I can think of no greater indictment of GCC's incompetence, misappropriation and downright dishonesty; if not for Edinburgh's cock-up with their tram.