Glasgow’s North Kelvin cycle path: a make-believe or permanent fixture?

For many commuters in Glasgow’s North Kelvin area, 2015 was a year to forget – yet again. Glasgow City Council had spent £9.8m on a segregated cycle path, only to then close it down…

Glasgow’s North Kelvin cycle path: a make-believe or permanent fixture?

For many commuters in Glasgow’s North Kelvin area, 2015 was a year to forget – yet again. Glasgow City Council had spent £9.8m on a segregated cycle path, only to then close it down in 2016. For some residents, that experience led to other frustrations – such as climbing through ladder holes to get to the bus stop (an unlicensed bylaw).

Libraries became sites for make-believe – but after a big protest march, the bicycle path is back

Last year, they got their wish. After a lengthy delay and an expensive legal battle, they were given their way. In November, the authority permanently reinstated the path. “Now I’ve got a usable bike route,” says the 54-year-old Andrew Wilson, who has had to use the Glenhouse Canal and the St Annes canal to get to the bus stop. “The floodlights and mast-robes on the bike path are nice, but it’s better to have that in place.”

The route is sometimes jammed, particularly during the school holidays and summer holidays. City council worker Roger Fleet says when it’s full, officers are sent to repair the holes – usually from bikes with their wheels hanging off. “It will take us a couple of weeks but we’ll fix it up,” he says.

Sooner or later, is this cycle path a permanent fixture, or will the joy of it one day end? “In the next couple of years, it will be a permanent path,” promises Fleet. For the period before then, the council will build a temporary track as an option. It will be temporary – perhaps using plastic pipes rather than tarmac – and it will have been in place for a year by the time this cycle path becomes a permanent fixture.

But all the tinkering is not quite over. Each year on Wednesday, hundreds of cyclists from various miles of the route gather in Abbey Lane, north of North Kelvin, for the annual Fixer Fix day.

Some come on bikes and some on mopeds, pushing their buggies in their fainting chairs. For others, the fixer fixes themselves. This year, each delegate gets to choose a Fixer-O-Matic – a detailed computerised schedule for repairing bicycle holes. Once the size of the hole is fixed, everyone spins the machine to find a suitable hole. The opening is usually about a centimetre in diameter.

Then they spread out plasters, before pouring glass into the holes (the only safety of the floor) and filling them in with glue. The mechanic then rolls back the wheel and slides it forward, making sure the glass doesn’t block the drainage of the hole. Typically it’s an hour-long process. “It’s like having a mind bender,” says mechanic Sam Broneck.

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