AN innovative protected cycle route in Glasgow is being hailed as proof investment in cycling infrastructure can transform how people travel in the city.

The £6.5 million South City Way faced significant delays due to the covid pandemic but a section running from the south side into the city centre is now completed, six years after work begun.

Almost one million journeys have been taken on the bike lane, which goes from the gates of Queen's Park to the Merchant City.

South City Way is regarded as a key element in Glasgow’s emerging City Network for active travel, which will eventually ensure no-one in Glasgow lives more than 800 metres from safer, segregated cycling infrastructure.

Staff from local charities joined the official unveiling of the route, alongside politicians including active travel minister Patrick Harvie.

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Zoe Madek, Office Manager of the environment and energy advice charity South Seeds, said: “The South City Way has been a game changer for getting me actively travelling.

"I used to live in London and I used to see people on the road cycling alongside cars and buses and I just did not have that confidence.

"There were also a lot of incidents where people on bikes had been caught under lorries and being aware of that really puts you off cycling.

"When I heard about a South City Way that was literally what got me on my bike.

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"I remember before the new section was completed and before the cycle lane was in two directions I had that fear of travelling alongside buses and other traffic.

"But now it is finished I feel very safe and very secure on my bike and that fear of being alongside traffic has been completely eliminated.”

More than 935,000 cycle journeys have been recorded on Glasgow’s South City Way cycle route in the past two years.

The route now provides almost two miles of innovative cycling infrastructure between Queen’s Park and Victoria Bridge, where it connects with National Cycle Network 7 to provide links to other parts of Glasgow and the wider cycling network. 

Gregory Kinsman-Chavet, Founder and CEO of Bike For Good, said: "The completion of the SCW is beneficial for two reasons – firstly, personal: as a household we have no cars by choice and we wanted a place where it was secure to ride a bike and, with kids aged seven and three, we can cycle from our home in the south side to the city centre. 

"Secondly, we are really pleased for the local communities: the completion of the SCW means people can access the city centre and other parts of the city centre on bike – it’s really good infrastructure."

To celebrate the milestone of the South City Way connecting with Glasgow city centre, Councillor Angus Millar, City Convener for Transport; Patrick Harvie, Scottish Government Minister for Active Travel; and Carole Patrick, Portfolio Director at Sustrans Scotland gathered at Victoria Bridge with other local cyclists.

Councillor Angus Millar hailed the progress on South City Way and highlighted the newly released cycle journey figures as clear evidence of the demand for improved cycling infrastructure in Glasgow.

Mr Millar said: "The cycle journey figures are remarkable and show without doubt that people want to get about Glasgow more sustainably when infrastructure is available for them to do so.

"Concerns about safety are the number one barrier to cycling and our work to ensure safe, segregated routes in all areas of Glasgow will support more people to choose cycling for everyday journeys across the city."

Work on the South City Way began in 2017 with an allocated budget of £6.5 million, based on an even funding split from Glasgow City Council and the Scottish Government through Sustrans Scotland’s Places for Everyone Programme, but construction was significantly delayed by the covid pandemic.

Development of the route has included the innovation on the design of ‘protected junctions’, which support safe movements for cyclists and pedestrians at busy road intersections in Govanhill.

Minister for Active Travel Patrick Harvie said: “We will soon see over a million cycle journeys on this new active travel corridor, which is yet another example of segregated infrastructure making it easier for people to walk, wheel and cycle for everyday journeys.

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“For our health, wellbeing and environment – our ambition to deliver more infrastructure like this, right across the country, has never been higher."

Fatima Uygun of Govanhill Baths Trust, added: "The South City Way is a phenomenal addition to the city, getting people out of their cards and on to their bikes. 

"Govanhill Baths Trust contributed some artist-designed planters with pollinators along the route, and also some seats – to allow cyclists to take a rest and enjoy their surroundings."

A key aim for the South City Way has been to build community cohesion along the route, which helps to link healthcare, academic, social, leisure and cultural venues and public transport.

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Through the Small Grants Fund, more than £100,000 has been allocated to local community groups for projects that support the local environment.

Andrea Gillespie of Hidden Gardens, said: "The SCW is fantastic for taking people to the city centre, around Glasgow and to the Hidden Gardens.

"The separate space for cyclists encourages people to use their bikes. 

"Like Govanhill Baths Trust, The Hidden Gardens put some planters along the way, with pollinator plants providing ideas on what could be planted in back courts and gardens to encourage wildlife."

Carole Patrick, Portfolio Director for Sustrans Scotland, added: “The South City Way is about so much more than the new safe and direct connection to the city centre.

"Working in partnership with Glasgow City Council through our Scottish Government-funded Places for Everyone programme, we are so proud of the fact that local communities have been at the heart of the project."

Cycle sensors installed on South City Way recorded 935,269 journeys along both directions of the route between June 2021 and June 2023.

Construction on the final section of South City Way, which will run from Victoria Bridge to Trongate, is due to begin later this year.