On 21 Feb a group of people who live and work around Milngavie gathered to demonstrate their support for the nationally recognised Bears Way cycleway, which has faced criticism from some locals. Despite the rain and cold, even four year old Ronan McCaffery enjoyed his ride along Milngavie Ride, something his mum Lise would never have considered before the protected route opened last year:
‘This is the first time Ronan has ever cycled on Milngavie Road. We would never have considered riding here before. However, the cycle lane which is separated from the road makes it child’s play for Ronan to enjoy his new found freedom. If Ronan can ride on it, it proves the lane really opens up the road to everyone’
Ronan takes his mum along the BearsWay for the first time.
The show of support was organised by the Friends of BearsWay, a volunteer group keen to make Milgavie and surrounding areas friendlier for people, not just people in cars. The first phase of the Bears Way links Burnbrae in Milngavie to Hillfoot in Bearsden, and East Dunbartonshire Council plan to extend the route and improve the dangerous Burnbrae Roundabout for cycling and walking. However a recent consultation event was marred by some locals’ violent criticism of the proposals to provide safe and attractive cycling conditions.
The Friends of the Bears Way appreciate that some local residents are concerned about parking and congestion, but feel the improvements to the streetscape will benefit everyone, and that many of the residents’ concerns can be mitigated with careful design.
Lizzie Reather one of the organisers of Friends of Bears Way said:
‘This little bit of cycle lane means that people – particularly those who are new or returning to cycling – can now feel safe and protected from the busy traffic on Milngavie Road. It was great to see young Ronan cycling along the lane today, and I hope over the coming years he will be able to use a growing network of lanes like this. Every person cycling is potentially a car removed from the road: so encouraging people to cycle has the potential to improve journey times for everyone.’
David Brennan one of the organisers of Pedal on Parliament, a group campaigning for the government to invest in active travel said;
‘In the past I’ve been critical of the lane’s design, but having seen the council’s plans for expansion, I am excited at the prospect of a Bears Way cycle lane that could take commuters from Milngavie centre all the way into Glasgow whilst separated from traffic. Milngavie Road is incredibly busy with traffic and this lane offers Milngavie an opportunity to offer a real alternative to the car, and to improve the local environment.’
The gathering heads back, to regather at Raffealle’s for lunch