GLASGOW City Council has marked official completion of the first of the active travel and public realm ‘Avenues’ to be delivered across the City Centre.
Sauchiehall Avenue — on Sauchiehall Street between Charing Cross and Rose Street — has been built as part of the £115million programme, the biggest of its kind in the UK, funded by the Glasgow City Region City Deal.
Key features of Sauchiehall Avenue include high-quality, public realm; enhanced and widened pavements that free up space for pedestrians and licensed tables and chairs; two-way cycle paths; junction upgrades; 27 trees (in a variety of deciduous species, with attractive colours throughout the year); new bus shelters, cycle stands, and seating; intelligent street lighting and ‘smart’ surface water management infrastructure.
New public realm has also been delivered to the four streets to the south of Sauchiehall Street between Elmbank Street and Douglas Street.
Pupils from Garnetbank Primary got on their bikes to join Councillor Susan Aitken, leader of Glasgow City Council, and Michael Matheson, cabinet secretary for transport, infrastructure and connectivity at Sauchiehall Avenue
The Avenues programme is a quality place-making scheme that will transform 17 key streets and adjacent areas in Glasgow city centre through the introduction of an improved environment that will re-balance traffic modes and introduce green and smart infrastructure.
The strategic need for Sauchiehall Avenue and the Avenues programme has its roots in the economic crash of 2008 and the subsequent impact on city centres and their retailers in particular. The programme is a part of the response to these issues, and will help to allow the city centre to be competitive — it remains the UK’s biggest retail destination outside the West End of London — and continue its development and attractiveness to everyone who uses it as a place in which to live, work, study, shop, eat, drink, visit or invest.
The Avenues programme adopts the principles set out in ‘Designing Streets’ — the first policy statement in Scotland for street design. The document encourages designers to reverse the existing road hierarchy to place people firmly at the heart of street design. All of the appropriate guidance and recommendations, statutory and endorsed by vulnerable user groups like the Guide Dog Association, are being followed.
Sauchiehall Avenue was delivered as a pilot project / demonstrator for the full Avenues programme. The design process considered visual and mobility impaired road users. As a result, measures incorporated include:
— Level crossing points to allow step free connections at junctions;
— Single grade pedestrian/cycle space to allow step free access to the central reservation — all street furniture including bins, benches and bus stops will be located on the central reservation; and
— Continuous footways at the side streets to reinforce pedestrian priority.
In addition, Road Safety Audits (RSAs) will now be carried out, in collaboration with a Sauchiehall Avenue monitoring plan which will allow for further engagement with vulnerable user groups. The results will be used to evaluate the overall success of Sauchiehall Avenue and will identify if further improvements are required.
Councillor Susan Aitken, leader of Glasgow City Council and chair of the Glasgow City Region Cabinet, said: “The completion of Sauchiehall Avenue is a milestone in the rebirth of this famous Glasgow thoroughfare and the first stage in the biggest re-imaging and re-modelling of our city centre streets since the pedestrianisation of Buchanan Street 40 years ago.
“We’ve created a physical environment which will be the catalyst for social and economic benefits, improving Sauchiehall Street’s overall look and feel and helping it adapt to the changes affecting high streets everywhere. It’s now a street where pedestrians, cyclists and vulnerable road users are prioritised over the car, a safer, cleaner, more vibrant space which is attractive to both visitors and investors.
“The wider Avenues project will help us to both make the most of the fantastic economic potential of so many districts in the city centre and meet the challenges facing them.”
Cabinet secretary for transport, infrastructure and connectivity Michael Matheson said: “I’m delighted to see that the results of our £500 million investment into the Glasgow City Region Deal’s infrastructure investment fund are beginning to be seen. We are committed to developing an Active Nation, where more people have opportunities to walk and cycle than ever before.
“This is an example of additional investment in high quality active travel infrastructure over and above the £80 million we spend every year. The rate of cycling into Glasgow City Centre has more than doubled since 2009 and the Avenues project will build on this demand and accelerate this positive rate of change. I look forward to seeing the city continue to transform as both residents and businesses take advantage of the opportunities it will create.”
UK Government minister Colin Clark said: “I’m delighted that the regeneration works for Sauchiehall Avenue on one of Scotland’s most famous streets are now complete and that businesses, shoppers and residents can enjoy the improvements. Glasgow is a world-class city and quality enhancements such as these reflect its global status.
“This is just the beginning of a £115 million programme to transform public spaces across the city that the UK Government is jointly funding. I look forward to seeing this — and the fruits of our wider £500 million Glasgow City Region City Deal investment — boost the area.”
More detail on the programme is available at: www.glasgow.gov.uk/avenues.