Commuters join organised cycle rides on canal paths to beat Glasgow rail disruption

The age of canal travel has returned with rail commuters being encouraged to switch from train to bike along towpaths during the Queen Street tunnel disruption in Glasgow.

Supervised rush-hour cycle rides are being laid on between Bishopbriggs, one of the busiest commuter stations, and the city centre.

They have been arranged because the journey currently takes no longer by bike than it does by train since services are taking a diversionary route.

The normal six-minute train trip has been extended to around 30 minutes.

Cycling Scotland, the Scottish Government-funded body, came up with the idea. The service is run by Glasgow Bike Station, which repairs and sells donated cycles.

A route along the Forth and Clyde Canal is one of three being led by qualified ride leaders from the Bike Station every morning and evening.

The others are on minor roads, and more direct major roads, respectively.

Bike mechanics are on hand to check cycles are safe.

Bike Station projects manager Victoria Leiper said five people a day had taken part since the rides started on Monday, and there was space for up to 48. Three of those cycling are women, and all are under 40.

Ms Leiper said: “We are expecting the number to increase, but it is a hard sell if you are used to taking the train rather than commuting by bike.”

The rides are due to continue until May, but could be extended if they prove popular.

ScotRail, run by Dutch firm Abellio, is backing the move.

Phil Verster, managing director of the ScotRail Alliance, which includes track owner Network Rail, said: “While we realise cycling is not for everyone, this opportunity could be ideal for people who may have been thinking about cycling to work but are perhaps lack confidence to cycle alone.

“Led rides present an easy, sociable, safe and enjoyable way to take up cycling as part of the daily commute, and we’re happy to be able to offer this to our customers from Bishopbriggs.”

Trains at Queen Street are being diverted to its two lower-level platforms, or Glasgow Central, until August 8 while worn-out track is replaced in its main access tunnel.