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In August the world’s most talented professional cyclists will pack the streets of Glasgow for the Union Cycliste Internationale 2023 (UCI) - but just how safe are the roads in the city for cyclists right now? We asked Glaswegians for their thoughts.
The event will see the 13 existing UCI World Championships combined for the first time to create one ‘mega event’, creating a cycling championship that’s being hailed as the ‘single biggest cycling event in history’ and one of the largest events ever hosted north of the Border.
Around 8,000 of the world’s best cylists from across the world will be competing in cycling centres across Scotland, with the road races taking place cross-country and in inner-city Glasgow. It’s hoped that UCI will bring £67m to the Scottish economy when it begins on August 3 and runs through to August 13.
The Men Elite road race will start in Edinburgh, then progress through the city’s old town before heading to Glasgow and completing 10 laps of the final city circuit. In total, they will cover 277.6 km with 3,167m of climbing.
The Women Elite – including Women Under 23 – will set off from Loch Lomond and ride a 62.6 km route to Glasgow before tackling six laps of the city circuit, for a total race distance of 157.4 km and 1,930m of climbing.
The Men Under 23 peloton will follow the same route but will complete seven laps of the city circuit in Glasgow (race distance 171.8 km and 2,123 m of climbing).
The 14.4 km technical city circuit in Glasgow features ‘punchy short climbs’ up some of the city’s steepest streets within the first kilometre (total of 193m of climbing per lap), followed by a fast, slightly downhill finish to the line in the city’s George Square.
The Junior road races will take place entirely on the Glasgow city circuit: nine laps (129.6 km) for the Men Junior and five laps (72km) for the Women Junior.
Already amateur cyclists in the city have pointed out the state of the roads set to be used in the UCI routes - and how dangerous they could be to the professionals. Twitter user @LiamMcReanan pointed out one particular road, the B822 Lennoxtown to Fintry Road (known as Crow Road in the city), is set to be used in the Men’s Elite Race and is littered with potholes.
Potholes are such an issue in the city, that locals staged a protest in George Square in the last weekend of January to put pressure on Glasgow City Council to speed up their repairs of the city streets and expedite the claims process for damage caused by potholes. The pressure groups Facebook page, ‘Potholes Make Glasgow’, currently has just under 11.5k likes - showing just how much of an issue drivers believe potholes to be in the city.
A Freedom of Information request by the Scottish Conservative party found that over the last three years, the council received 3537 claims from drivers who had hit a pothole. However only 45 claims were granted for money to be paid in compensation - just 1.2% of all submitted claims.
In response earlier this year, Glasgow City Council urged locals to be patient with repair teams as they deal with a rising number of potholes across the city - as Glasgow road users voiced their growing frustration with the state of the streets in the city.
Back in January, Andy Mollon (the head of roads at the Council), claimed that the local authority had brought in ‘external partners’ to assist with pothole repairs in Glasgow - who joined the existing road repair team in the seemingly insurmountable task of keeping the city’s roads in check.
A combination of cold weather in December coupled with heavy rain throughout January and February has led to the perfect conditions for pothole formations in the asphalt.
Andy Mollon told the Glasgow Times back at the end of January: “Ultimately, there will be a lot of potholes out there. We can’t fix them all at the same time, we have to prioritise which ones we have to do first.
“If we find a defect that requires an immediate response, then we will do an immediate response.
“We just ask the public if they can be patient with us while we try and get round these as quick as possible.”
When asked about Glasgow City Council’s plans for preparing the roads and repairing potholes for the UCI Cycling World Championships, a spokesperson for the local authority said ‘it would not be appropriate to comment as road race routes cover a number of local authority areas’.