IT is, I know, environmentally damaging, a risk to public health and, to some at least, a concrete monstrosity cutting through the centre of Glasgow, but you have to admit the M8 is pretty handy if you want to come into the city centre to do some shopping or go to the GFT.

Glasgow, as Radio 4’s Archive on 4 slot explored last Saturday night, is the “motorway city”. No city in the UK has more motorway provision and no other city has been as shaped and defined - some would argue, distorted - by the roads that cut through it (literally so in the case of the M8).

Presented by Allan Little, Motorway City was a journey from utopia to dystopia; from the fever dreams of postwar urban planners to a reality of social exclusion, air pollution and contentious LEZ zones. A reality, too, that sees some 180,000 vehicles (at least) travel across the Kingston Bridge every day.

The Herald: The M8 under construction in 1970The M8 under construction in 1970 (Image: free)

Listening to this fascinating documentary it did occur to me that you could possibly make the case that the most important idea shaping the postwar 20th century was not socialism or liberal democracy or religious fundamentalism, but convenience. We created a world in which ease of access - if you could afford it - became the be all and end all. And that access came in the shape of four wheels.

Was this a good thing? At the time it was seen as such. A chance to create a new Glasgow, removing slum housing and open the city up to the growing demand for private transport, as well as creating an economic driver.

Perhaps it doesn’t look quite the same from this end of the telescope, however, in a world finally beginning to wake up to the reality - and the causes - of climate change.

There is an architectural heroism to the M8, though. Architect Jude Barber told Little that she finds driving across the Kingston Bridge and taking in its cinematic views of the city exhilarating.

“That’s what we see and feel, but there are things we don’t see and feel when we think about these bits of infrastructure,” she added. “Like air pollution. The damage that it’s causing is significant. And we can’t see it.”

But visible or not, it’s a fact. “When we see the health impacts of something like this we have to act and we have to change,” Barber suggested.

READ MORE: M8 in Glasgow: Should it be scrapped?

The question is how? The most obvious answer is developing a proper integrated public transport system, but is there any political appetite for that? And let’s face it, the can-do approach of those postwar urban planners may be hard to find in the UK these days. HS2 - or the lack of it - comes to mind.

And let’s face it, politicians have not even started a public conversation about a post-car economy and what that may look like. So, for the foreseeable future that suggests 180,000 cars will continue to cross the Clyde on the Kingston Bridge every day.

Little asked the question is the M8 simply a fact of life we have to live with or are there alternatives? Yes, according to the citizen-led campaign group Replace the M8.

But any alternatives demand we dream big. And is it possible we have now lost that ability, given that short-termism is now so rife in our politics?

Motorway City didn’t try to answer that question, but it took us on a journey to tell us how we’ve got to the point where we might need to ask it.

In the wake of the sentences given to teenagers Scarlett Jenkinson and Eddie Ratcliffe for the murder of Brianna Ghey last week, and the remarkably open-hearted response by Ghey’s mother towards the mother of her child’s murderer there was something rather timely about Marina Cantacuzino’s new Radio 4 series Forgiveness: Stories from the Front Line which was stripped across Radio 4’s post-The World at One lunchtime slot from Monday to Friday this week.

Cantacuzino, the founder of the Forgiveness Project, used the series to investigate ideas of restorative justice, which brings together victims and perpetrators. On Tuesday Marian Partingdon told Cantacuzino how she came to forgive her sister’s killers, Fred and Rosemary West.

“Forgiveness began for me with murderous rage,” Partingdon admitted. “There were many raw, deep emotions to experience before that word could get a look in really. But I had a feeling this is the creative, imaginative way forward. This is the only way out.”

A remarkable programme about a remarkable woman.

The Herald: Sharon SmallSharon Small (Image: free)

Listen Out For: Short Works, Radio 4, Friday, 3.45pm

And since we’ve been talking about Glasgow … Playwright Rhiannon Tise’s short story Byres Road, read by Sharon Small, sees a woman return to the city to meet an old university boyfriend.