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'Intuitive' lighting, mapping tools and smartphone app to be piloted in bid to get more people on bikes

‘Intuitive lighting,’ mapping tools and a smartphone app for cyclists to help them plan journeys and which will include video footage of proposed routes are among initiatives to be piloted in Glasgow after winning £24 million in Future City funding from the government.

In January, it was announced that Scotland’s largest city had beaten off 29 rival bidders from throughout the UK, each receiving £50,000 to develop their ideas, with Bristol, London and Peterborough also making it through to the semi-final stage last December.

The Future City / Glasgow project involves the public, private and academic sectors, with partners including Glasgow City Council, Glasgow Community & Safety Services, Sustainable Glasgow, Strathclyde University, NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde, and Police Scotland.

While the city’s plans cut across a number of areas, encouraging active travel is one of the central pillars of its proposals, and specifically harnessing technology to get more people to take to their bikes, or carry out journeys on foot.

According to Glasgow City Council,

Data collected by people who currently walk or cycle will identify the routes they use most to travel around the city. The aim is to encourage people to map their city using a smartphone app being developed by the team and to share the information through a MapGlasgow website which is also being created as part of the Demonstrator.

A separate Active Travel Journey Planner is also being developed which will enable cyclists and walkers to use their phones to easily and instantly find the most direct, flattest or off road route to their destination within the city before setting off on their journey. This app will integrate with the mapping app to enable people to share their favourite walks / cycle routes.

Analysis of the information collected will be used to influence future spending in the city and determine the measures needed to address issues raised such as safety and accessibility.

Another pilot project will explore the use of intuitive street lights on an off -road stretch of the city's cycle routes. Many off-road routes are currently unlit but the pilot will see lights installed and fitted with sensors. The lights will dim when there is no activity on the route (to reduce emissions and save energy) then increase in brightness when the sensors detect approaching cyclists or walkers.

Councillor Gordon Matheson, Leader of Glasgow City Council, commented: "The Future Cities Demonstrator is an extremely exciting programme which will realise real benefits for the city.

“The council aims to transform Glasgow into a city of active living by encouraging walking and cycling. The Demonstrator's Active Travel project will contribute to that goal through the clever use of technology and by empowering cyclists to contribute their views on the improvements needed to make cycling and walking safer and easier in the city.

"The city's new Connect2 cycle route will also provide a link from Kelvingrove through Anderston to the city centre and the introduction of an automated cycle hire scheme will also encourage people to travel around the city by bike.

“I'm looking forward to the launch of Glasgow's Future City cycling apps and hope people will seize this opportunity to participate in the project and be part of the solution to problems like traffic congestion, obesity and poor health."

Last month, the city hosted the British national road race championships, with Mark Cavendish and Lizzie Armitstead respectively winning the men’s and women’s titles.

Next year, it will welcome the Commonwealth Games, with the Sir Chris Hoy Velodrome, which has already been the venue of a round of the UCI Track Cycling World Cup, one of the new facilities built for the occasion.

Levels of everyday cycling remain low, however – just 2 per cent of journeys into the city centre – which is something that Glasgow City Council is looking to significantly improve upon.

There is a long way, however, to go for the city to get close to matching the Scottish Government’s target of 10 per cent of journeys across the country to be made by bike by 2020 – a goal that campaigners Pedal on Parliament say needs to be supported by a similar level of the national transport budget being devoted to cycling.

Born in Scotland, Simon moved to London aged seven and now lives in the Oxfordshire Cotswolds with his miniature schnauzer, Elodie. He fell in love with cycling one Saturday morning in 1994 while living in Italy when Milan-San Remo went past his front door. A daily cycle commuter in London back before riding to work started to boom, he's been news editor at road.cc since 2009. Handily for work, he speaks French and Italian. He doesn't get to ride his Colnago as often as he'd like, and freely admits he's much more adept at cooking than fettling with bikes.