The Gilmorehill campus at the University of Glasgow is soon to be expanded through its purchase of the Western Infirmary site. The planning of the new site has led to a campus wide development framework which has looked at, amongst many things, improving sustainable transport choices.
From earlier consultations I’ve been concerned at the lack of appreciation of the current poor pedestrian environment and the downright hostile conditions for those on bikes; there seemed to be the impression that there already is an acceptable cycle network. And now after the lengthly consultations the University has unveiled its hopes for University Avenue, and it consists of shared space (concept plan below).
Early Concept Drawings of University Avenue
On the plans there are gateways labelled and so I checked with the University if they were bus gates but they’re not:
A bus gate was considered as an option during the evolving masterplan but the preference at this time is to keep it as a traffic route as it is acknowledged that it is a key route for the West End.
For those who are not familiar with University Avenue, let me know introduce it with a couple of pictures.
Bus route, some of the triple axial variety
Noisy busy with motor traffic
And to illustrate one of the current problems faced by those who try to go by bike here is a video of the Space4Cycling Glasgow group “interacting” with a bus (Rob Williams).
In summary, University Avenue is busy with motor traffic in an environment with larger numbers of pedestrians requiring frequent crossings of the road (to get to lectures, etc) and has very limited cycling provision which when present consists of paint on the road. This cocktail of high volumes of motor traffic, frequent crossings from pedestrians and lack of protective space for people on bikes creates a dangerous and hostile environment. The proposed Shared Space treatment without restricting motor traffic will do nothing substantial to improve the situation, and in some cases could make it worse.
So where did they get this idea of using Shared space? One of the posters showed where their inspiration is coming from.
Exhibition Rd, London
The above picture is actually misleading since you may think Exhbition Rd has little traffic but this is not the case since it’s used as a through-route for motor traffic and is thus summarised by the Cycling Embassy of GB as:
A costly shared space scheme in west London that has largely failed to make the street environment significantly better for cycling, principally as a result of a failure to either reduce motor traffic levels, or to provide physical separation. Despite this failure, it is touted as a success by many politicians, including Boris Johnson in his latest ‘Vision for London 2010’.
This would appear to be at odds with their clear intentions set-out in the campus development framework (page 98)
actively promote modal shift to increase travel by foot, bicycle and public transport
Prioritise pedestrian and cycle movement along University Avenue through design.
I think that one of the problems is the University is not working to set a of design principals which could help guide them to provide the appropriate provision, and this is where the Principals of Sustainable Safety would help. The other problem is the unwillingness to reduce motor traffic flow.