Two hundred people turned up to cycle in support of the beleaguered Bears Way protected bike route near Glasgow yesterday.
The advocacy ride follows a 2,800-signature petition calling for the reversal of a decision by East Dunbartonshire Council to scrap an extension of the cycle route following backlash from residents concerned about the loss of parking.
The ride to support the route, which runs from Milngavie to Glasgow on the A81, came days after Scottish transport minister, Humza Yousaf, announced a taskforce to tackle “bikelash” against protected bike infrastructure, which has plagued Scottish cycle routes recently.
Dave Brennan, organiser of the Friends of Bears Way, which staged the ride, told road.cc: "Over 200 cyclists turned up; lots of families, lots of kids came along, it was a really good day. It was all about getting people out there and showing support.
“One thing that was really nice, as we were cycling along lots of drivers were tooting their horns and waving in support.
“I think it sends a strong message to the local and national politicians that people want segregated infrastructure on roads like this; it demonstrated that we weren’t causing any congestion whatsoever and there were 200 people cycling along.
“Unfortunately half the riders stopped at the end of the lane because they didn’t want their kids cycling on the road."
Brennan hopes the council will reconsider its recent decision not to extend the lane to make East Dunbartonshire “people friendly”.
— Friends of Bears Way (@bearswayfriends) November 7, 2016
SNP councillors have been accused of going against the party’s own cycling targets, to get 10 per cent of journeys by bike by 2020 by recently voting against both the Bears Way extension, and to rip out a cycle lane in Ayr, which took no capacity from motor traffic, at a cost of £95,000.
— Lucy Hartley (@LucyHartley1) November 6, 2016
Alan Moir, deputy leader of the council's Labour group, which runs the council in coalition with the Liberal Democrats and Conservatives, told the Scotsman: "Today's turnout had been fantastic.
“I understand we had over 200, and this has really put life back into the Bears Way project, because cyclists and non-cyclists are not prepared for this fantastic initiative to be mothballed.
"I welcome the recent strong supportive comments from the transport minister in relation to the importance of segregated cycle lanes.
"However, my concern in relation to the task force initiative is that it does not directly deal with the political decision-making and blocking at a local level.
"I hope he is able to address this impasse."
At an active travel summit in Stirling last week Scottish transport minister, Humza Yousaf, spoke of the Scottish Government’s “absolute commitment” to increasing active travel rates, and cited “record” grant funding for more than 700 cycling and walking projects.
He said: “Community Links Plus has the potential to be a game changer for Active Travel In Scotland but too often bold visions get bogged down in the delivery. Recently, I have been disappointed some decisions taken locally about cycling infrastructure which will hinder the achievement of our long term vision – in particular the installation of segregated cycle lanes on the streets of our towns and cities.
“That is why I am establishing this taskforce to look at how we can tackle the practical barriers to delivery of ambitious cycling and walking projects in Scotland. Local authorities can and do deliver bold and visionary improvements, such as the most recent winning Community Links PLUS project in Glasgow – the South City Way.
“I am determined to make this taskforce work through local democracy and in doing so ensure better community consultation, better communication and ultimately better active travel infrastructure that is good for local economies and communities.
“It is only by working together we will be able to deliver a 21st century cycling infrastructure that befits our ambitions for healthier, more prosperous communities who are less reliant on the car as a mode of transport.”
Brennan welcomed the announcement but said the task force needed to be "more than a talking shop" and says he would like to see what powers it will have in cases like the Bears Way where local opposition threatens the creation of safe cycle routes.