A £235,000 of investment is connecting North Glasgow communities with the city centre, via the Forth & Clyde Canal and a new cycle route.
Scottish Canals and its partners at Sustrans and Glasgow City Council have worked to create a new cycle way along Baird’s Brae, connecting Applecross Basin on the north side of the Forth & Clyde Canal with Garscube Road and Glasgow city centre.
Upgraded as part of a wider project – currently at £1.3 million – to improve the towpaths of Scotland’s canals, the route provides safe, off-road travel for walkers and cyclists of any age or ability, with additional lighting and signage due to be completed in 2017.
George McBurnie, project manager at Scottish Canals, said: “The new Baird’s Brae cycle route has created a gateway to North Glasgow, promoting access and connections between the city centre and Southside communities. The route encourages access to the knowledge-based industries on the north side of the city centre and to the growing cluster of cultural industries – most notably the creative hub at Speirs Wharf and Port Dundas.
“This project also promotes active travel and well-being, offering improved opportunities for leisure, exercise and commuting east and west along the towpaths of the Forth & Clyde Canal. Our recent improvement works provide a safe, all-weather surface everyone can use and enjoy, and our towpaths are busier than ever – Scotland’s canals already attract more than 22 million visitations a year.
“We are hugely grateful to both Sustrans and Glasgow City Council for supporting this important project, and I am sure that the improved access offered by the new cycle path will see positive connections between North Glasgow and the city centre.”
The towpaths have seen a 300% increase in usage in the last eight years and also play an important role in the health of the nation, with a recent report finding that the benefits of additional physical activity on the canals save the NHS more than £6 million per year.
John Lauder, Sustrans Scotland national director, said: “We are delighted to see the new cycle path at Baird’s Brae completed successfully, providing an easy route between the city centre, surrounding communities and the Forth & Clyde Canal’s towpaths.
“Sustrans has enjoyed working in partnership with Scottish Canals and Glasgow City Council to deliver this exciting project, in addition to the wider programme of towpath upgrades across Scotland’s canal network, where many of the towpaths form a key part of the National Cycle Network. The canal towpaths are a great facility for people of all ages and abilities, whether they are a daily commuter or a leisure cyclist. The new Baird’s Brae cycleway marks a significant step up for the area and we hope this new, all-weather walking and cycling route encourages even more people to take to the towpaths and travel actively.”
The towpaths of Scotland’s canals also form a key part of the Sustrans National Cycle Network and connect to more than 400 kilometres of pathways. The routes are important links between rural communities and vital active travel arteries in some of the nation’s most congested cities.
Claudio Pia, who runs social enterprise Lambhill Stables’ cycling group, Lambhill Active, and, under the monicker of Dr Bike, gives bike repair workshops and canal canoeing classes, hailed the importance of the route.
He said: “Lambhill Active is a brilliant resource for kids and adults to get fit and enjoy the great outdoors using the Forth & Clyde Canal. The new cycle route makes it easier for us to connect with communities on the south side of the canal, and to bring local people to enjoy the natural beauty of Glasgow that’s right on their doorstep. It’s a safe and easy way to travel without having to worry about the daily hustle and bustle of busy roads.”