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Neglected Glasgow estate could become a model cycling town - and athlete's village for Youth Olympics 2018

Glasgow's cycling tsar has been on a visit to Houten in the Netherlands for inspiration...

One of Glasgow's most rundown estates could be entirely rebuilt as a model cycling town under plans drawn up by the city's cycling tsar, Frank McAveety.

Sighthill, in northern Glasgow, was built in the 1960s and features a number of tower blocks. Following a visit to Houten, a newly built town in the Netherlands, Mr McAveety has asked planners currently remodelling Sighthill to consider giving priority to cyclists over cars across the whole estate.

In Houten, cars are largely restricted to an outer ringroad around the town, causing campaigners to describe it as one of the most cycle-friendly towns in the world. It won the title of Bicycle City 2008, thanks to its greenways and safe roads, which the judges commended for being safe enough that even young children and the very elderly could navigate easily

Mr McAveety, told the Scottish Herald: "We need to raise our aspirations. In places like Houten people cycle and never see a car. Toddlers cycle, pensioners cycle, the environment's safe. The main form of transport is cycling.

"We will be spending substantial sums redeveloping Sighthill and even if just a fraction of the total goes on cycling-friendly provision it would transform our quality of life and sustainability.".

Some of the planned redevelopments to Sighthill include 830 new homes, the demolition of a number of tower blocks and a village square with shops and open space.

Mr McAveety hopes that a substantial redevelopment to the estate could not only raise the number of regular cyclists in Glasgow - across Scotland only two per cent of journeys are made by bike - but also attract the 2018 Youth Olympics to the city.

As part of the 2018 bid, Sighthill would be offered up as the athlete's village before becoming commercial and social housing, much like the London 2012 Olympic Village.

Glasgow is on a shortlist of three cities to stage the 2018 Games, with competition from Buenos Aires in Argentina and Medellin in Colombia. A decision on the bid is expected next month.

The IOC report described Glasgow as a "compact project which makes good use of existing venues". It also highlighted the "overall safety" of Glasgow as a place to visit with "Scotland and the UK having experience in providing security for major sporting events".

Additionally, Mr McAveety's proposals tie in with the Scottish Government's updated Cycling Action Plan for Scotland (CAPS 2013) launched this week, three years after the original version was published in 2010. Like its predecessor, the new plan calls for 10 per cent of journeys in the country to be made by bicycle by 2020.

The revised action plan also calls on local authorities to reduce speed limits in residential areas to 20mph as part of a wider strategy including developing cycling infrastructure that is aimed at encouraging more people to ride bikes, as well as meeting road casualty reduction targets and achieving better integration with public transport.

Specific funding was announced yesterday for two projects - £45,000 to Edinburgh Bike Station for its Dr Bike Cycle Safely Programme, and £34,000 to Cycling Scotland to establish the inaugural Fresh n Lo Pedal for Scotland Aberdeen Bike Ride, due to be held this autumn.

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