New figures show the number of people cycling along a protected cycle route are four times higher than those commuting by bike on main Glasgow roads.

The numbers have been touted as evidence that building specific infrastructure for cycling will encourage more people to use active travel for moving around the city.

Cycling Scotland's annual travel survey shows 12.75% of people cycled along the landmark South City Way route compared to the next highest number of 3.06% on Castlebank Street.

Keith Irving, Chief Executive of Cycling Scotland, said: "It’s really exciting to record this high level of people cycling on the South City Way in Glasgow, and demonstrates that building a network of safe, connected and direct cycling lanes means more people travel by bike.

"This is the clearest evidence yet that when Scotland builds good quality cycling infrastructure, it gets more people cycling, cutting emissions.

"Two years after Scotland hosted COP26, this is the type of project essential to cut emissions in cities."

Completed this summer, the South City Way route runs from the gates of Queen's Park in Glasgow's south side to the Merchant City, allowing those on bikes to complete the journey to the city centre in just over 10 minutes.

Over a 48-hour period between September 20 and 21, traffic surveys organised by Cycling Scotland recorded 3739 bikes travelling along the route on Victoria Road in Glasgow's south side, out of a total of 29,318 travel methods recorded.

This means that 12.75% of people cycled their journey.

At other locations around the city, on main roads, the numbers were far lower - falling to just 1.05% at Saracen Street in the north of the city.

Mr Irving added: "With transport the largest source of carbon emissions in Scotland, we need to help more people to cycle, walk and wheel safely.

The Herald:

"Investing in dedicated, separated cycling lanes, limiting polluting traffic growth and providing support for everyone to access bikes, training and bike storage are all key actions to reduce our climate impact and improve health.

"We need more safe cycling routes, like the South City Way, across Scotland."

The South City Way is one of the most ambitious urban cycle routes in Scotland.

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Running for 2.5km, it is a fully separated, two-way on-street cycle path, providing a direct and link between communities in Glasgow’s south side and the city centre.

The route was developed by Glasgow City Council and Sustrans, with funding from the Scottish Government and cross-party support.

Robin Ellis, a commuter who cycles to her work along the South City Way several times a week, said: "A lot of the roads in the area are filled with so many large vehicles, lorries and commuter traffic, so it makes a massive difference to be able to take the cycle route and feel a lot safer and protected.

"The route’s also much quicker than any other way of getting to work."

Jen Symington, another frequent user of the route, said: "I use the cycle path most days to travel to work, and I feel safer using it.

"I’m six months pregnant and it’s been helping me to keep cycling. I avoid using roads and I feel safer using a space like this that’s just for bikes.

"I like that cycling helps me to keep active and get some exercise without setting aside a specific time.

"It’s better for the environment and I’ve got more control over my times when I’m travelling to work."

Cycling Scotland organises traffic surveys in all local authority areas across Scotland to monitor changes in travel behaviour at more than 100 locations.

Conducted in May and September each year, these nationwide traffic surveys help to track changes in modal share, highlighting how new high-quality cycle routes such as this are supporting more people to make sustainable journeys.

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Scottish Greens Minister for Active Travel Patrick Harvie said: "These new figures from Cycling Scotland continue to prove that where we invest in high quality cycling lanes, we make it easier for more people to choose cycling for everyday journeys.

"To support these ambitions of our towns and cities, the Scottish Government will continue to invest in high quality walking, wheeling and cycling infrastructure.

"In doing so, we can transform how people choose to get around and ensure that more people, in more communities right across the country, can benefit from healthier and happier transport options."

The autumn 2023 traffic surveys on Victoria Road also showed cycling volumes to be at their highest during commuting times, with more bikes heading northbound towards the city centre in the morning and returning southbound in the afternoon commuting period.

Angus Millar, City Convener for Transport, said: “The South City Way is making a remarkable difference to everyday journeys in the city’s southside.

"These figures show without a shadow of doubt that when we make it safer to do so, more and more people want to travel by bike.

"The success of South City Way just adds impetus to our efforts to create a City Network for active travel that ensures safe, segregated infrastructure for cycling all across Glasgow."

Work on the final leg of the South City Way into the city centre has now begun and construction on the first phase of Connecting Battlefield, which will link with the South City way, will start in the new year.

Mr Millar added: "By creating the correct conditions for safer cycling, we are supporting the shift to sustainable transport that is essential if we are to reduce the city’s carbon emissions."

Karen McGregor, Scotland Director at Sustrans, added: "These figures from the South City Way speak for themselves – making it safer and easier to walk, wheel and cycle means more people make healthier and greener journeys.

"With 13% of journeys along Victoria Road now being made by bike, the South City Way shows the level of demand we can unlock with well-designed infrastructure that puts people first.

"It's now vital that investment builds on this success, giving more communities across Scotland the same opportunities to benefit from high-quality networks which make walking, wheeling and cycling the safe, obvious choices for everyday journeys."