COMMONWEALTH Games organisers have been criticised for closing major cycle routes and siting bike parking up to half a mile from venues – despite urging spectators to pedal to events.
Three sections of the national cycle network (NCN) in Glasgow, used by hundreds of cyclists a day, will be shut during the Games for venue security. A stretch of route seven along the Clyde beside the SECC – a traffic-free path into the city centre from the West End – will be cordoned off, even though it is outside the venue’s security perimeter.
The SECC and Hydro will host events such as gymnastics and netball.
Cyclists will have to use roads, including busy Argyle Street, but cycling developers Sustrans has called for all the bike paths to be kept open.
Route 75 – which goes to Edinburgh – will be closed in Glasgow Green, beside the Games’ festival hub, with cyclists switched to main roads such as Ballater Street and London Road.
Another stretch of the route will be shut further east, beside the Athletes Village in Dalmarnock.
Spectators cycling to Hampden Park will have to leave their bikes at Holyrood Secondary School, ten minutes’ walk away, according to the official maps.
Bike parking for the mountain biking at Cathkin Braes is a third of a mile from the entrance.
Games organisers see cycling as a key part of transport to events. The official Glasgow Get Ready website advises: “Walking or cycling is a great way to get around the city, especially with public transport being busier than usual at Games time.”
Sustrans Scotland director John Lauder described the closures as “very disappointing”.
He said: “We fully understand the need to make sure the Games are safe and secure for everyone. But we don’t understand why on the one hand people are being encouraged to cycle and walk to events, but are being discouraged from doing so with routes that are complex, fiddly and avoid high-quality infrastructure, such as the NCN.
“Glasgow 2014, who are managing the closures and diversions, must ensure the routes are kept open for the duration of the Games.”
Kim Harding, director of the Edinburgh Festival of Cycling, said: “It strikes me as absurd to close cycle routes and remove cycle parking when you are trying to encourage active travel among spectators.”
Dave Brennan, an organiser of the annual Pedal on Parliament lobby of Holyrood for cyclist safety, said: “Glasgow, which is already being criticised for its poor approach to cycling, once again demonstrates its lack of vision with regards to active travel.”
Ian Maxwell of Spokes, the Lothian cycle campaign, said: “It is great cycle facilities have been created in connection with the Games, but absolutely daft they cannot be used during the actual event, thus causing disruption both to spectators and to cyclists who need to use these routes to go about their everyday journeys.
“Treating cyclists in this way makes a complete mockery of the green and sustainable credentials of the Games.”
However, Cycling Scotland, which is funded by the Scottish Government, said the Games would boost cycling, despite the restrictions. Chief executive Ian Aitken said: “I’m sure the Commonwealth Games will inspire many people to get out on their bike.”
A Glasgow 2014 spokeswoman said there would be “some restrictions to traditional cycle routes where they fall within venue security perimeters, but designated walking and cycling routes will be clearly signposted.
“We appreciate the temporary re-routing of some parts of the NCN may cause some short-term inconvenience for regular cyclists. We’ll continue to ensure measures are taken to enable as many people as possible to cycle. This has included installing parking provisions for 1,000 bicycles.”
She said there was no parking at venues because of “operational safety reasons in areas that will be densely populated with spectators. In certain locations, bike storage is as close to the venue entrances as we can safely put them.”