New bus gates and cut to city centre parking spaces proposed for Glasgow “people first zone”

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New bus gates and a cut to the number of parking spaces in Glasgow city centre are being planned as part of the roll-out of a “people first zone”.

The area — initially announced by council leader Susan Aitken during the COP26 climate conference — has been described as a “people-friendly zone… with essential vehicular trip access.”

The “preferred way forward” is for the car to “feel like a guest” in the zone, officials have reported. This would mean preventing or discouraging traffic while still allowing vehicles which require access, such as blue badge holders and residents, to enter and exit.

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It would cover an area bounded by Hope Street, Cowcaddens Road, North Hanover Street, Glassford Street and Howard Street.

Funding still needs to be identified but officials want to take forward several measures, including bus gates — which give access to buses, cycles, taxis and goods vehicles only — on Ingram Street and George Street and removing the southbound lane on West Nile Street.

Cutting the waiting times for pedestrians at traffic signals and reducing the 320 car parking spaces in the zone by around 30 per cent have also been suggested.

The Ingram Street bus gate would operate from 7am to 7pm between the junctions with Glassford Street and South Frederick Street. It would “prevent vehicles being able to travel eastbound through the city centre core.” Access to Miller Street would be maintained.

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The George Street bus gate, at its junction with North Frederick Street, would also operate from 7am to 7pm, and would “further reduce traffic travelling through George Square but still enable access to Queen Street station.”

Removing the southbound lane of West Nile Street from its junction with Killermont Street/Renfrew Street to its junction with Bath Street would “assist in the accommodation of a proposed new segregated cycle route.”

It is hoped the cut to on-street parking would encourage drivers to use spare capacity in multi-storey car parks while promoting sustainable travel through initiatives such as “widened footways, cycle parking, or car club spaces.”

Officials had considered another option to restrict vehicle access, enforced by automatic number plate recognition cameras, but reported this generated “a significant number of delivery challenges.”

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These included requiring a “substantial” whitelist for exemptions (residents, blue badge holders, goods vehicles etc), the need to install new cameras, high costs and “higher risk” of challenges “potentially due to concerns that the city city centre… would not be perceived as ‘open for business.’”

Progress on the zone has been included in an update to councillors on the city centre transport plan, which Cllr Angus Millar, SNP, the council’s convener for climate, transport and city centre recovery, said is “key to Glasgow’s continuing transition”.

He said the plan will contribute to “the look and feel of a 21st century international city.”

“Aligning with major developments coming on stream, alongside public realm investments like the Avenues project and George Square revamp, it will help create the conditions needed to attract more people to live in, visit and invest in the city centre,” Cllr Millar added.

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“It will also be critical to how we adapt to massive challenges such as changes to how city centres are used and the climate agenda. The plan will take some time to implement, during which we’ll be seeking external funding, working on traffic management plans and engaging with businesses and the public.”

A report by council officials stated evidence from the Glasgow household survey showed the most common methods used to travel into the city centre are public transport and active travel.

It added: “The next steps for the people first zone work are to explore applying for further external funding to progress traffic management options and public realm options.

“The council will also continue to explore opportunities for pedestrian only streets where feasible and where supported by the business community within the wider city centre.”

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