In July 2019, Glasgow City Council launched its proposal for a Restricted Parking Zone (RPZ) in Dennistoun and Royston. This aimed to reduce parking problems in both areas by charging for parking on mainly residential streets.
Why have an RPZ?
There are a lot of parking issues around the two large workplaces in the area: Glasgow Royal Infirmary and the City Park building. There have also been cases of Dennistoun being used as a ‘park & ride’. Some people drive in from outlying towns, park in Dennistoun then get the bus or train to the city centre to avoid parking charges. These issues have led to conflict between residents, commuters and visitors to the area.
The RPZ proposal would add marked bays and parking charges to streets throughout Dennistoun and Royston (most of which already have parked cars on both sides). It would also change many streets to become 1-way in ‘The Drives’ (so-called as most of its east-west street names end in Drive).
There’s plenty of discussion elsewhere about the pros and cons of the RPZ proposal. Here, I want to talk about the unintended consequences it will have for cycling and changes that could avoid those.
How one-way streets affect cycling:
Forced detours onto busy roads
The proposals force people to zigzag into and out of the Drives. For example, the 1-way sections at each end of Armadale Street. These mean you could no longer cycle directly from Armadale St, across Duke St onto Whitevale St. I use this route to commute to Bridgeton station. This avoids a busy main road (Millerston St/Cumbernauld Rd). It was also marked as a ‘quiet route’ on the Glasgow Cycle Map. If the RPZ plans go ahead, you’d have to detour onto a busy part of Duke St. There’s no alternative as Whitevale St is the only other road that goes over the railway to Gallowgate at that point.
Extra distance and effort
One-way loops mean you have to either leave, or arrive back, via a neighbouring street. What takes seconds for someone driving could add a few minutes of extra effort and inconvenience if you’re cycling. Or it could tempt people to cycle on the pavement. Ideally, the issue should be avoided by having cycling contraflows (or ‘one way exceptions’ as in Bristol). I’ve found the one-way zone introduced in Partick time consuming and confusing as it makes you go all round the houses (or tenements). There’s a similar issue in Dowanhill, as noted by Alistair McCay (lecturer in Infrastructure and Environment) on Twitter:
When you cycle you use musculature power in order to move. When driving you slightly depress a pedal.
So when driving, to go slightly out your way maybe up a hill is no biggie. But when cycling it can make your journey much more effort and less direct.— Alistair McCay (@AlistairMcCay) September 13, 2019
People tend to drive faster
One-way streets might be intended to avoid conflict between oncoming cars when there is parking on both sides of the road. While this may seem a good idea, having to hold back for oncoming cars is one of the few things that slows down some drivers in Dennistoun! Increased speeds are recognised as a drawback of 1-way streets.
Much of the conflict happens on through roads like Armadale St and Craigpark. These are used as ‘rat runs’ to cut out traffic lights on the main roads. Both streets already have ‘traffic calming’ but the speed bumps don’t seem any more effective than the chicanes they replaced. The RPZ doesn’t prevent through traffic, one-way sections on Armadale or Craigpark would just redirect it to neighbouring streets. Also, when I’ve been given a lift home, I’ve seen car sat navs direct drivers down those through streets; adding to traffic. If their maps don’t update quickly when the changes happen then we’ll probably see more people driving the wrong way down 1-way streets.
Why not filter out ‘through traffic’?
‘Through traffic’ means motor vehicles who travel through an area that’s not their destination. In residential streets it brings several disadvantages – more road safety issues, speeding, noise, pollution and ‘wear & tear’ on the road surface (= more potholes). There are few advantages in The Drives, if any. There’s no real ‘passing trade’, as it would use the shops on Alexandra Parade or Duke Street. Local shops on Broompark Drive or Armadale St only really serve residents.
There are several roads to access the Drives both from Alexandra Parade and Duke St (six each). Stopping through traffic would still allow residents to get to their homes by a few different routes. If you think about it, most places only have one or two ways in or out.
The way to stop through traffic is using filters. These vary from bollards or planter boxes to laying pavement across the street to divide it. This already happens in Dennistoun at the eastern end of Craig Park Dr, Onslow Dr, Finlay Dr and Roselea Dr. There are also examples south of Duke St at Whitevale St, Annbank St, and Sword St/Reidvale St.
Any filter for motor traffic should allow people to cycle through it. This is important as it helps encourage cycling as a quicker option for short local journeys. Sword St/Reidvale St is the best current example as the pavement has drop kerbs on both sides for bikes, prams, mobility scooters, etc.
The Drives ‘Superblock’
One of the most cutting edge ideas to create better neighbourhoods is Barcelona’s ‘superblocks’. The city, like Glasgow, has a lot of streets arranged in a grid with blocks of buildings. Superblocks group these together, nine at a time. They filter some streets at the edge, to allow in locals but stop through traffic. This creates a community space in the centre for recreation, including picnic areas, playgrounds, cycle tracks, etc.
Dennistoun could create its own version of a superblock in The Drives by filtering just five streets: Broompark Drive, Broompark Street, Craigpark, Whitehill Street and Armadale Street/Ingleby Drive. This would allow local access for residents but stop through motor traffic. Instead of using residential streets, motor traffic would stay on wide main roads that are better able to handle it: Alexandra Parade, Cumbernauld Rd/Alexandra Park St, Duke St and Wishart St/John Knox St.
PDF version of map (2.2MB)
The map shows existing one-ways with only a few proposed around schools/nurseries to try and help reduce conflict during the dreaded ‘school run’. Pupils should be allowed to scoot or cycle through the playground so they’re not inconvenienced. Hopefully the reduction in through motor traffic would encourage more parents and children to walk, cycle or scoot to school. Quieter, less polluted streets would be a benefit to people walking or using mobility scooters/wheelchairs.
I’ve added the Sword St filter to a photo of Armadale St/Ingleby Dr. It’s fairly basic but gives an idea of how it might look.
Filters can include planter boxes with trees, shrubs or flowers to brighten them up. They can also have benches, cycle parking or SUDS. There are many good examples of filters in the London borough of Waltham Forest.
The only negative I can think of with filtering is when Celtic play at home and traffic in the East End seizes up. Being able to drive home north-south through the Drives may avoid a traffic jam on Cumbernauld Rd or John Knox St. Some of the Waltham Forest filters include bollards that fold down (for fire access, etc.) so that’s an option if required. However, you’re never guaranteed a parking space on your own street when a game’s on anyway. Many residents have to park further away and move their cars later after the match. Event parking restrictions are due to start at Celtic Park, which may affect the number of cars coming into the area.
Adding cycling infrastructure
Like most areas with tenement flats, storing a bike in Dennistoun gives you a choice. Risk leaving it locked to a fence outside. Risk it in the close/backcourt/basement. Or keep it inside your flat. The last two usually mean carrying it upstairs. Hopefully, in future, there will be an alternative option – on-street secure bike parking as announced by the council in late 2018. A map of locations appeared in spring 2019 (but seems to have disappeared again). From memory, Dennistoun was due to get one ‘cycle hangar’ on Armadale St (with two in Haghill for some reason). I think the wide corners on Whitehill St and Meadowpark St would be ideal for these. You have to subscribe to get a key but it would make things easier for quite a few people.
In summer 2019, Glasgow City Council’s ‘Avenues Plus’ project won national funding from Sustrans Scotland. This includes a segregated cycleway along Duke St from the High St, past Wellpark Brewery to Bellgrove St. When complete this should help increase numbers cycling from Dennistoun to the city centre. It will also serve the Meatmarket development at the corner of Duke St/Bellgrove St. To capitalise on these, a high quality north-south cycle path should be built from Duke St, at McIntosh St up to Ark Lane. The existing paths aren’t suitable for cycling as they include steps. The route could continue up over Firpark St to Wishart St at the Royal Infirmary. This would avoid busy roads and help staff and visitors cycle between the hospital or City Park and Bellgrove train station.
This way up
The above measures could help stop the parking changes adversely affecting many people who cycle in Dennistoun. It would also be in line with the transport hierachy supported by Glasgow City Council (and the Scottish Government). The RPZ proposals, like a lot of policies, seem to get the hierarchy the wrong way round…
Thanks to Space for People Dennistoun for help with this post.