Secret Scotland

If it's secret, and in Scotland…

Online reviews are false – seems the same is true of comments

I’ve never understood why anybody puts any faith in online reviews.

Most read like promotional literature posted by the subject, and there are too many cases reported in the media where false material intended to harm a business (perhaps by someone seeking revenge) to make positive OR negative reviews trustworthy or believable.

See this recent article if you believe any online reviews (or believe I’m making this up 🙂 ): ‘Why I write fake online reviews’

And that’s before we even get to those business who beg for positive reports and 5-star reviews.

I recently bought some camera accessories online, and was about to post a pic of the note that came with them, begging for positive reviews and 5-star ratings for the items.

Two things meant I didn’t, firstly that it would have given the seller free publicity (not from me), and secondly that they told me NOT to give a review OR rating if it wasn’t going to be 5-star.

Sure, like I am going to do ANY of those things of ORDERED to by a seller!

So, how did ‘Comments’ end up being lumped in with reviews?

If you’ve read any items where I’ve mentioned the few articles that still appear after news articles in the media, you will probably have noticed that I now generally refer to the ‘Comments section’ as the ‘Morons section, and that I will mostly be referring to that section as it appears after articles published by The Scotsman.

The BBC still offers a few online items with comments open, and these are just about as moronic (probably the same people), but I seldom mother even looking, as their comment section is hidden by default, and needs to be clicked on to be made visible, and it’s not usually worth that amount of effort.

The most recent article was a genuinely useful and informative piece on the introduction of cycle spaces on buses.

You might be forgiven for thinking such a sensible move would be relatively free of adverse and moronic comments.

WRONG!

I’ve been forced to use the bus (or sit at home) for almost a month, and the commenters, sorry, morons, have clearly been locked indoors for a lot longer than that, and not been on any current buses – if they’ve even seen, let alone been ON a bus in the past twenty or thirty years.

According to the moron commenters, buses are dirty, drivers unhelpful, too busy racing between stops, don’t run on time or to schedule, and a nightmare for the disabled or anyone with a pram.

In fact, I’ve been shocked to find that I could set my watch by any of the buses I’ve used. In Glasgow, they run almost to the minute, and we have digital displays on our bus stops which countdown to the bus’ arrival.

The buses are new and clean (unless a drunk ned has been on recently).

Drivers stop and help disabled people (and people with prams) get on if needed, manually dropping a ramp to the pavement – if the kneeling bus cannot get close enough or kneel down far enough. There are special places for wheelchairs and prams to sit too. I’ve seen many people in powered wheelchairs get on and off the bus unaided, apart from that ramp, if needed.

There’s no rushing between stops. As noted above, the drivers run to a timetable, and often wait at stops, or just pull in for a minute, if it is quiet and they are early.

Apparently NONE of this happens in the world, or twisted mind, of the moron commenter.

Funny thing is, as I watched the prams and wheelchairs going on and off, the he only thing I began to wonder about was bikes on buses.

And then this story appeared a few days ago…

Here’s Scotland’s first bus you can wheel your bike onto

The story’s pretty much what you’d expect, with space and racking, and supports to suit bikes, similar to that in place already for wheelchairs and prams.

The real subject though, I suggest, is a look at the comment/moron section after it.

It’s hard to believe that some people have little more to do with their time than make up the rubbish and misinformation that fills most of this section.

It’s even sadder to see that some of them are mocking even the idea, and suggesting it is stupid to provide such paces on buses.

They really don’t get out enough, or have any contact with other people.

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22/04/2019 Posted by | Civilian, Transport | , | Leave a comment

Byres Road farce defines “Too many cooks”

If you’ve never come across the fiasco that has become the Byres Road “City Deal-funded comprehensive public realm scheme”, then I suggest sitting down with a strong cup of tea or coffee (or maybe something even ‘stronger’ – you’ll probably need it), and doing some background reading of past articles online.

The get ready to keep reading for another THREE YEARS!

This scheme is CURRENTLY not expected to be completed until 2022 – and that will only happen if no more ‘cooks’ come to the table.

In the past, plans such as this were created and imposed on an area.

Not necessarily right, but at least it meant the plan was delivered, something was done, and then the various interested parties could fight it out over the years and have what they thought was ‘Most Important’ installed as a modification in later years, if they could get anyone to listen to their whining.

Now?

Now, schemes can end up delayed for years as those who think THEIR requirements are the most important, and should override everyone else’s needs and wants.

This almost happened in Sauchiehall Street, with various groups whining on and on about how THEY should get priority in the scheme to alter that street, until it just seemed to start and get built, while those people were still whining away in the background.

But Byres Road just seems to be one never-ending collection of ‘Cooks’ determined to have their say and get priority for THEIR group and demands, and stuff any other group.

I’m not even going to TRY to take a representative quote, I’d have to copy the whole article!

But, the bottom line…

The current timetable for the work shows construction starting in summer 2020 with completion in spring 2022, although the programme may be subject to change depending on the nature of objections raised during consultation required to obtain a Traffic Regulation Order.

MAJOR Byres Road Revamp Won’t Be Finished For At Least Three Years

While all these ‘Cooks’ have their fun, the rest of just have to carry on cycling on the same old roads and routes, with the same problems they say exist on them.

Somebody should bang all their heads together, and force the word ‘compromise’ into them – there’s clearly enough space in there!

On that basis, I suspect few them actually use the roads as such, and just whine about what they think they see as problems, as they stand on the pavement and study their belly buttons passing traffic, without ever being part of it.

I have to ‘borrow’ one of the pics with the article as I’ve never take a pic of ‘just’ Byres Road – apart from the find of the now closed Nardini’s a few weeks ago.

I’ll have to rectify that.

Byres Road with cyclists Pic Credit reGlasgow

Byres Road with cyclists Pic Credit reGlasgow

Update

Seems the wider media caught on to this a few days later.

But did have anything to say, just parroted off the plan without noticing the three-year timescale, or all the wailing and moaning that’s already gone on, and might add more years to that timescale if there are objections.

Cyclists and pedestrians are set to benefit from a £9m project to redesign Glasgow’s Byres Road.

Protected cycle lanes will be installed on both sides of the road, while pavements will be widened to make more room for pedestrians and public seating areas.

Meanwhile, the taxi rank at Hillhead Underground Station will be restricted to the hours between 6pm and 2am and a speed limit of 20mph will be enforced for the entire length of the road.

Bus stop bypasses – routing the cycle track behind the bus passenger boarding area to maintain the separation of cyclists and motor traffic – have also been included in the design.

Cycle paths and 20mph limit in £9m Byres Road revamp

Well, we’ll see.

I just hope I’ve got enough time left to see this one delivered, and get to try it one day.

20/04/2019 Posted by | Civilian, council, Transport | , | Leave a comment

The stories cycling activists must hate – and I hope I live to see delivered

I’ve really come to loathe and despise most activists and campaigners, but as with all generalisations, have to be clear I’m only referring to those who see their campaigns as a job, and one they will be out of if they ever acknowledge the delivery of anything they are campaigning for.

I’m not going over old ground, like some sort of broken record – there are enough old posts filed on the subject in this blog.

So…

I was intrigued, but NOT surprised (since I stopped listening to activists) to read that plans for a ‘Green Network’ (to be launched in May 2019) with 500 miles of walking and cycling routes connecting the city centre to parks and nature areas, ALREADY has some 60% of the access network is already in place.

Listening to the whining noises always coming from cycling activists, you could be forgiven for thinking that figure was closer to 0% than 60%.

The network includesCuningar Woodland Park, Pollok Country Park, Glasgow Botanic Gardens, Kelvingrove Park and Castle Semple Country Park.

The Cunningar Loop Bridge was a great addition, over the River Clyde and the Clyde Walkway, as it meant no longer having to go from Shettleston, almost to Rutherglen, to get to the park, as it connected it at Dalmarnock, just past Parkhead.

Cunningar Bridge River

Cunningar Bridge River

The only one listed which I haven’t touched is Castle Semple Country Park, which is simply the furthest from me, and I’d never even heard of. Apart from the Botanics, I can reach all the others via cycle paths or cycle routes.

The Glasgow and Clyde Valley Green Network has prepared a blueprint, on behalf of the eight local authorities in the Glasgow City Region, which aims to make outdoor areas easily accessible for everyone in the region.

Probably the most relevant aspect is the identification of areas that need to be addressed to ‘Join the dots’, as the most frustrating thing I come across is spots where I find I’m between safe/quiet roads/routes, with no obvious means of connecting the two.

Filling in these gaps would vastly improve the existing networks.

A report to the City Region Cabinet states: “The blueprints identify what already currently contributes to the two networks that should be protected and if necessary improved, and where there are gaps in provision that need to be delivered.

“The blueprint will contribute to delivering sustainable inclusive economic growth and increasing wellbeing by contributing to making the Glasgow City Region a successful, sustainable place where people want to work and where they live healthy lives.”

They also hope the blueprint will make the region a natural, resilient place that improves and protects the environment, a connected place providing opportunities for exercise and mental wellbeing and a place that encourages active travel contributing to a low carbon economy.

Plan unveiled for ‘green network’ in Glasgow linking city centre to parks in the region

I hope they can do this without too many delays brought about from complaints by ‘special interest groups’, who must be heard, but seem to be taking far too much power for themselves nowadays, as opposed to being totally ignored in the past.

A better balance needs to be struck, as projects such as this can seem to spend far too long stuck in the dispute stage.

 

14/04/2019 Posted by | Civilian, Transport | , , | Leave a comment

Daft report concludes it’s quicker to cycle than drive in cities

You’ll find I often mention the saying “There’s lies, damned lies, and statistics”, NOT because it’s in the slightest way true, but because it reflects the way people with their own agenda will ‘cherry pick’ the numbers to arrive at the result they want.

While numbers, and the analysis of them, are neutral and merely report facts, HOW that data is manipulated and presented CAN make a difference.

In a way, I can’t really comment on this as I was priced off the road years ago, but I do know how long common trips took me, and what influenced them.

(The following has nothing to do with favouring or decrying any travel method, and is just me moaning about the analysis.)

I find it utterly pointless to compare cycling, where a route can be varied at a moment’s notice (primarily due to the size of rider and machine, and even the ability to get off and walk/push), to driving a car, where a route is difficult to vary, especially if there is any sort of incident on the route.

However, I’m also willing to accept the metric may provide a figure that can be used for comparison, even if it is unreliable.

The source can be found in this link, so you can have a look and come to your own conclusions about the validity or relevance of the numbers to reality…

It’s quicker to cycle than drive in UK cities, says report

What I can comment on is my own recent discovery that it’s quicker to cycle than use the bus.

A recent change of circumstance meant I had to start using the bus to get from home to Kelvingrove, rather than get there by cycling.

While I COULD time this journey in various different ways, and come up with a number of different comparisons, I decided the fairest way would be to consider the trip as a whole.

I define this as how long it takes from the moment I decide to make the trip, to the moment I step through the door of Kelvingrove.

In order to be sure of arriving there before the start of the 1 pm organ recital, I need to start getting ready at 11:15 am.

Without going into too much detail, the travelling time on the bike is less than the travelling time in the bus – preparation for riding the bike takes longer than getting changed to walk to the bus stop.

The routes are quite different, but run in parallel from their start points to their finish

Interestingly, BOTH take about twice as long as it used to take me to drive to Kelvingrove.

However, when Kelvingrove reopened after its long refurbishment, and came back with a Pay & Display car park (which I refused to use), that time went up considerably as I had to find street parking, and walk in from wherever that might have been, so extending the time taken.

Oh look!

My recent pics caught a bit of the car park.

Kelvingrove Kelvin Stitch

Kelvingrove Kelvin Stitch

There’s a cycle rack too.

And a nexbike station, which is remarkably busy, with a steady drip of arrivals and departures if you take the time to watch.

Kelvingrove Cycle Rack

Kelvingrove Cycle Rack

Above was a relatively unusual quiet day. It was almost as if everyone had run away when I walked it the building, then glanced back out the window.

It’s normally looking more like this.

Kelvingrove Bike Park

Kelvingrove Bike Park

04/04/2019 Posted by | Civilian, council, photography, Transport | , , , | Leave a comment

Nice cycle and pedestrian plan for Yorkhill, Kelvingrove, and Finnieston

While I’m still waiting to see some action on the East City Way on my own doorstep, I’ll be happy to see the proposals for a ‘Cycling Village’ to be developed around the area of Yorkhill, Kelvingrove, and Finnieston. I currently have to cover the first few miles on normal roads (although I have found some rat runs that avoid quite a lot of them now) before I can join the segregated routes at Parkhead, after which I get to the west end, and beyond, on various cycle routes which avoid most traffic.

These areas are already reasonably well provided for by existing cycle paths/routes, which are so popular that I often come off them and use the road if I’m in a hurry. On nice days, they just get too busy, and unless you’re ‘Lycra Lout’ ready to speed through everyone else at a ridiculous pace, you just have to go with the flow.

The various pieces of the plan have appeared in various articles over the past year, and look as if they should deliver an improved experience for everyone moving through the area, on foot, or using wheels (any sort).

The plan is still a couple of years away from being completed, assuming it gets both the go-ahead and raised the required funding.

What worries me is that it could be delayed if special interest and various activist groups get their hands on it, start submitting complaints and requirements on the basis they have been forgotten or ignored, and keep the plan circulation around the approval loop for years, as happened with the Sauchiehall Street ‘Avenues’ project, which I think the council eventually just got on with after a while, as the naysayers carried on whining and complaining.

Members of the Yorkhill and Kelvingrove Community Council are preparing to send their proposal, the Cycling Village Project, backed by Glasgow City Council, to the Scottish charity next month.

The plan has to cost more than £2 million – with the community council hoping to secure up to £8m – and Sustrans will choose how much to allocate before the local authority match it.

The community council’s pitch will be sent by April 23 and if successful the project, which aims to improve the streetscape of Yorkhill, Kelvingrove and Finnieston by making them safer and more attractive, will be completed in two years.

The aim is to ensure visitors and residents can discover and enjoy the area, while making pedestrian and cycling needs a priority.

It will also allow people to move around easily between their homes, transport hubs, community facilities and local businesses.

To achieve this vision, the group is pursuing ways to improve streetscapes, provide more cycling facilities including connections to promote already existing routes, enhance architectural heritage and introduce green elements to the local environment.

The community council also hopes to link together the three national cycle routes, through Kelvingrove Park , along the Clyde and the West City Way.

The organisation will also try to develop a driver awareness scheme for those who are uneasy overtaking cyclists.

They also plan to make the area more wheel user and autism friendly.

Multi-million pound plan to transform Yorkhill, Kelvingrove and Finnieston into a Cycling Village

Next stop, Kelvingrove Park…

Cycle Priority Traffic Lights

Cycle Priority Traffic Lights

02/04/2019 Posted by | Civilian, council, Transport | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Time to stop grovelling to activists and campaigners

I’m not going to mention any specifics, but I think it’s time that all the various activists, special interest groups, campaigners etc were shoved down the priority list and not ignored, but also not given the apparent power they seem to have gained by being not the most RELEVANT voices, but the LOUDEST!

I could rhyme of a list of about five or so who appear in most stories about cycle lanes/routes, and transport realignment, and come to the planning table (and leave it) with one chorus, “We have been ignored” or, “We have not been prioritised”.

While all plans need to be consulted on, and modified as they are developed, the Byres Road plan is a pretty good example of what I refer to, as it is now not expected to start braking ground before the end of this year (2019), having been expected to start in December 2018.

Have a look at this article on the changes coming to this road, some of those I have in mind are mentioned:

Segregated cycle lanes and fewer parking bays feature in latest plan for Byres Road

I’ve even cycled in Byres Road, which is rather odd (the cycling, not the rad).

As a pedestrian, it looks terrible, packed with all sort of traffic.

Yet on the bike (and even observing from on board a bus), that apparent congestion seems to vanish when you are moving with it.

Also, the activists won’t like me for saying this, all but one or two drivers seem to give cyclist a wide berth – space permitting.

Dopey pedestrians and cellphone zombies are a bigger hazard.

In fact, I’m surprised there were cellphone activists at the meeting, whining about there being NO LANE FOR THEM in the plan!

Cellphone Lane

Cellphone Lane

Update

Just saw this, and HAD to include it – a real phone zombie gem…

And then there was…

SmartphoneZombies.jpg

25/03/2019 Posted by | Civilian, Transport | , , , , | Leave a comment

Time to stop grovelling to activists and campaigners

I’m not going to mention any specifics, but I think it’s time that all the various activists, special interest groups, campaigners etc were shoved down the priority list and not ignored, but also not given the apparent power they seem to have gained by being not the most RELEVANT voices, but the LOUDEST!

I could rhyme of a list of about five or so who appear in most stories about cycle lanes/routes, and transport realignment, and come to the planning table (and leave it) with one chorus, “We have been ignored” or, “We have not been prioritised”.

While all plans need to be consulted on, and modified as they are developed, the Byres Road plan is a pretty good example of what I refer to, as it is now not expected to start braking ground before the end of this year (2019), having been expected to start in December 2018.

Have a look at this article on the changes coming to this road, some of those I have in mind are mentioned:

Segregated cycle lanes and fewer parking bays feature in latest plan for Byres Road

I’ve even cycled in Byres Road, which is rather odd (the cycling, not the rad).

As a pedestrian, it looks terrible, packed with all sort of traffic.

Yet on the bike (and even observing from on board a bus), that apparent congestion seems to vanish when you are moving with it.

Also, the activists won’t like me for saying this, all but one or two drivers seem to give cyclist a wide berth – space permitting.

Dopey pedestrians and cellphone zombies are a bigger hazard.

In fact, I’m surprised there were cellphone activists at the meeting, whining about there being NO LANE FOR THEM in the plan!

Cellphone Lane

Cellphone Lane

25/03/2019 Posted by | Civilian, Transport | , , , , | Leave a comment

What if you wrote an article about a new BMX centre and forgot to…

Mention where it was located?

I’ve read this article a few times, and don’t quite think mentioning ‘Glasgow’ counts as giving the location of the…

New £3.7 million BMX centre officially opens to public

Glasgow covers a fair old area.

Let me fix that for you…

New £3.7 million BMX centre officially opens to public in Knightswood.

Sorry, but it’s just such a howler I had to mention it just to get it out of my head!

BMX

02/03/2019 Posted by | Civilian, council, Transport | , | Leave a comment

Two interesting articles on University Avenue

Since I occasionally visit The Hunterian, I have cycled on University Avenue.

Admittedly not often (I dive into the university grounds at the earliest opportunity), and usually not on the other side of the road (from The Hunterian). The road has also been liberally sprinkled with assorted roadworks on those occasions, so I didn’t realise it was a controversial place.

That said, having read about other changes nearby, I’m a little surprised to read the comments about ‘Paint only’ segregation, as opposed to more robust separation. Having been on Byres Road too, I’m pretty sure I’d have a won a bet with myself had I heard about the ‘Paint only’ proposal, and made a bet that somebody would make a fuss.

Not sure if reading the articles gives the true picture, or if this is more damned ‘cycling activists’ at work.

Having read the details of other routes being created around the city, it seems odd that the council would have approved this if the dangers are as claimed, and that the plan will result in a reduction to existing safety.

It’s sad, but I’m now so fed up listening to them ‘talk up’ dangers as they see them, that I largely switch off as soon as they start whining. I’m beginning to think they’ll do more harm than good, by alienating people who would otherwise be open to less exaggerated claims.

I’ll be interested to see if these stories are followed by news of changes, or clarification to what is actually being done.

And even more interested to hear that any ‘unsafe’ option have been rectified.

Glasgow residents form human bike lane in protest of ‘unsafe’ cycling at University Avenue

Work on new ‘super-crossings’ to begin at University Avenue

Perhaps the activists would like this pic of these little known benches, depicting autopsy benches near University Avenue, to help their campaigns? I feel sure they could make up some stories about them.

Glasgow University Autopsy Benches

Glasgow University Autopsy Benches

11/02/2019 Posted by | Civilian, council, Transport | , , | Leave a comment

Interesting detail in Riverside’s road safety area

Looking at some pics I collected at random while wandering around Riverside a while ago, I noticed an interesting detail which hadn’t registered before.

This was really just a wide shot taken down one of the upstairs galleries.

There’s a café at the far end, and a large window overlooking the River Clyde towards the west.

Riverside crossing exhibit

Riverside crossing exhibit

What really caught my eye on this day was the illuminated red ‘Wait’ section on the pedestrian push button control box.

Spot the ‘extra’ bit?

It shows a bicycle, something I didn’t really notice until last year, when Glasgow started making more of its dedicated cycle paths and routes.

Riverside crossing exhibit detail

Riverside crossing exhibit detail

If we discount the ‘bad’ cyclists (who Darwin may help eventually remove from the gene pool, to everybody’s benefit), I used to wonder how some cyclists were able to negotiate some junctions and crossing so quickly.

I didn’t believe that so many were willing to risk their lives by apparently speeding across roads without checking they were clear or safe to cross, and it took me a while to become aware of this type of crossing which accommodated both pedestrians and cyclists.

Needless to say, I’ve learnt the locations of all those installed on my regular routes, and it is actually quite nice to be able to approach and cross a street or junction with priority, in a similar way to that which a vehicle does.

I’ve found some flaws, for example where we have a cycle path parallel to a road. The lights alternate the two, but we often have almost no traffic on the road, so the cycle path is held on red while anything up to four roads are shown green – cyclists have been known to fall asleep and off their bikes waiting for their green to arrive! (Just kidding).

I’ve also noticed some new roads in the area, which have extensive cycle paths included, direct cyclists off the path and onto the road at junctions (then return them to the path after the junction), so they are governed by the same traffic lights at junctions, rather than separate lights. I’m not sure how well this alternative works, simply because these roads are just off my regular routes. But, the idea seemed OK on the few times I went that way out of curiosity.

Probably, the reality is that there is no ‘One size fits all’ solution to this aspect of traffic management.

I thought the exhibit was worth a mention, simply because it is up to date, and the display included educational features/games for the kids.

01/02/2019 Posted by | Civilian, council, photography, Transport | , , , , | Leave a comment

Good news for Calton sustainable transport

Yet ANOTHER good ‘Poke in the eye with a sharp stick’ for the pathetic cycling/transport activists I’ve been calling out recently, with their endless whining which claims ‘Nothing’ is being done to improve transport in Glasgow.

They really must think people are mugs.

I didn’t even know this particular project was coming, although I may have unwittingly mentioned some small parts in previous posts, without realising there was more.

If so, then there may be valid criticism of Glasgow City Council and the other groups and organisations involved in these initiatives, for failing to get the message out, and make sure it is widely known.

It seems that work is set to being on improvement totalling some £1.3 million to make main roads around the Barras more people-friendly. This is expected to start in spring/summer 2019 and be completed in 2020.

Glasgow councillors are being asked to accept £300,000 of funding from sustainable transport organisation Sustrans so that the full range of proposed public realm improvements can go ahead.

As I travel these roads fairly often these days, I can attest to the fact that the existing layout is badly in need of an update to modernise it and make it more friendly for users.

I hope this doesn’t spoil some of the fun though – it can be amusing to see people unfamiliar with the area wonder what is going on when the local fire station goes into action. It’s hidden out of sight up a side street, but has extra lights on the main road to give its vehicles priority to access the main road.

A city council report states: “A key aim is to improve connectivity between the Barras and the city centre by prioritising pedestrians and cyclists and by reducing the dominance of cars and other vehicles.”

Measures will include putting in traffic lights at the junction at the north of Moir Street, above, widening pavements, resurfacing and the introduction of a 20 mph zone.

As a condition of funding (to make up an anticipated shortfall), Sustrans Scotland want extra improvements carried out, particularly around the Charlotte Street/London Road junction. The report states: “The proposed design has been amended to reflect this.”

Funny, I find that junction is fairly handy, and already has cycle lanes and traffic lights.

More: WIDER Pavements And New Traffic Lights Among Calton Public Realm Measures

Later: £300k funding boost for ongoing Barras regeneration project

I wonder if this street survey camera I spotted ages ago was involved?

Gallowgate Streetwise Camera Barrowland

Gallowgate Streetwise Camera Barrowland

24/01/2019 Posted by | Civilian, council, Transport | , , , | Leave a comment

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