End of the road for Bears Way?

03-07-2015 Picture Roberto Cavieres. Milngavie Road, picture of the tailback being caused by bin lorries collecting rubbish on A81 after new lanes installed- regular cyclist  along the road Simon Cook
03-07-2015 Picture Roberto Cavieres. Milngavie Road, picture of the tailback being caused by bin lorries collecting rubbish on A81 after new lanes installed- regular cyclist along the road Simon Cook

Phase 2 of the Bears Way project has been stopped in its tracks after councillors voted against it at last Thursday’s full council meeting.

Council leader Rhondda Geekie put forward the Labour/Conservative administration’s proposal for Phase 2 which involved creating a segregated cycle path on Milngavie Road from Hillfoot to Kessington.

However SNP councillor for Bearsden Keith Small and independent councillor Duncan Cumming put forward an joint amendment NOT to proceed with it.

Councillors Small and Cumming’s amendment won by 12 votes to 11 - with the support of SNP and Lib Dem councillors - defeating the Labour/Conservative coalition.

Councillor Small said: “There has been a lot of anger and frustration since Phase 1 and huge public debate in the local press and social media.

“Prior to the Bears Way cyclists and motorists existed alongside with no real problems.

“Now we have got conflicts between cyclists, motorists, pedestrians and residents.

“Social divisions have been caused and now we need to heal them.

“We didn’t see how much the segregated cycle lane would intrude upon the road.”

He added: “We are not anti-cycling but we need to take all the community into account.

“We can’t ignore the 18,000 cars use this road every day.

“It’s also extremely frustrating for motorists that eight per cent of cyclists still use the main carriageway.

“Cycling and segregated cycle lanes is not the only way to improve people’s health in the community.

“Phase 2 would reduce the road width through Hillfoot and we’d lose parking near the train station and shops.

“Some traders fear this could put them out of business.

“Car ownership is high in Milngavie and Bearsden.

“People work hard to own a car and run it and they should not be penalised for that.

“Whatever we decide tonight will please some and not others.”

Councillor Cumming said: “In 17 years as a councillor this is the most controversial issue I have every come across.

“Many people are deeply upset by the Bears Way and the way it’s been carried out.

“I have been accused of being anti-cycling, but that’s simply not true.

“Most people I have spoken to who are opposed to this are also not anti-cycling they just don’t like this scheme.”

Councillor Vaughan Moody added: “No one has ever sent me an email asking for a segregated cycle lane along the A81.

“Due to the views of the local people within the area I represent I would not want to continue with this project. A hole has been dug and the best thing to do now is stop digging.”

But Labour councillor Alan Moir hit back saying: “I find it very disappointing that people are no longer supporting this project.

“It has successfully reduced the speed of traffic on the road and created a safe cycle route which can be used by young cyclists and more experienced ones.

“EDC has been praised for this proactive work, Phase 1 won a transport award.

“The Scottish Government is 100 per cent behind it.

“I hope those who voted against it tonight will be prepared to answer questions from the public about why they made this decision.”

Labour Councillor for Milngavie Maureen Henry added: “What we’re losing sight of tonight is that we have had a lot of positive comments from constituents about this scheme.

“We are trying to make cycling safe and to give people a choice to get out of their cars.

“I’m really disappointed if this doesn’t go ahead tonight as it’s visionary and exciting.

“Let’s be bold and brave and let’s have a vision for our next generation.”

After this vote Phase 2 of the Bears Way project cannot be discussed again within the next six months - by which time there will only be weeks until the next council election, in May 2017.