At a recent meeting of the National Cycling Interests Group, which includes most of Scotland's cycling organisations, the idea of a manifesto was tabled so we might approach government with a common set of goals.

We, Free Wheel North, supported this idea and immediately proposed some content.

That content needs to be radical and ambitious, especially in Glasgow. Why? Because Glasgow has gone from being a world leader in public health to world capital for pollution, obesity, inactivity and low life expectancy. Cycling solves all of these problems, but we need meaningful actions rather than vague rhetoric.

This story of Glasgow's decline is sad: A cholera epidemic in 1847-48 prompted action to improve public health standards and in the following decade a major project to upgrade Glasgow's water supply was undertaken, piping water from Loch Katrine. In 1863 the burgh of Glasgow appointed its first Medical Officer of Health, William Gairdner, demonstrating a shift towards civic responsibility for a wide range of environmental issues affecting the lives of ordinary people.

Civic responsibility also brought about the creation of green spaces, parks and perhaps most of all, public squares and crosses where people could socialise and trade local goods.

Those local connections, social and economic, formed the bedrock of community and their loss contributes massively not only to obesity, diabetes and heart disease, but also to anxiety, isolation and stress.

The era of civic responsibility in Glasgow was halted and reversed during the 20th century and continues on into the 21st. One of the most dramatic instances of this was the destruction of Charing Cross in 1972 to make way for the M8. A thriving and permeable public space emulating a Parisian boulevard was removed to make way for the vision of a high-speed megalopolis where people don't count. Until 1994 Pollok Park used to be Europe's biggest urban green space, but part of it was removed to make way for the M77.

The era of civic irresponsibility has been intensifying in the 21st century. In 2006 part of Sustrans cycle route 7 along the Clyde was destroyed to make way for Europe's biggest car shownroom. In enlightened cities around the world, riverside space is being recognised for its health giving properties. Portland replaced its expressway with a park. In Glasgow the total separation and rejection of the river is being completed at the moment by the so-called Fastlink bus service. Concrete walls now prevent access to the river for a special bus route that is special in the sense that it will prohibit cycling.

European records are a feature of the era of the era of civic irresponsibility: According the World Health Organisation (2008), Calton has the lowest male life expectancy (54). Glasgow has some of the most polluted streets in the world, notably Byres Road and Hope Street.

Toxic particles from vehicle exhausts are blamed for killing at least 1,600 people a year in Scotland, 300 in Glasgow. This air pollution is precisely equivalent to the open sewers of the 19th century and its remediation requires equally radical engineering.

Free Wheel North frequently contributes to consultations and is actively involved in other ways of trying to get Glasgow City Council to resume its former legacy of civic responsibility. But with little success. For example we objected to the proposals for more, cheaper, parking in the West End, especially around Hillhead Primary.

Our items for a cycling manifesto are therefore:

l Car-free city and town centres

l Car-free space around schools

l Creation of walking and cycling cafe boulevards (eg Byres Road).

The answers to our health crises are simple and have been implemented the world over. Our response to the claim it can't be done here is it has been done already: on July 27, Glasgow city centre was traffic free due to an event at the Commonwealth Games.

What can be done once can be done again, and regularly.