The Clyde could become a transport of delight again - Alastair Dalton

Before lockdown, my daily cycle to work took me along the Clyde, the most pleasant way to reach The Scotsman’s Glasgow office on the south side, as well as get into the city centre

Friday, 4th September 2020, 7:30 am
The Millennium Bridge and Bell's Bridge which link the Glasgow Science Centre and BBC Scotland with the Armadillo and Hydro at the Scottish Event Campus are magnets for sunset photographers. Picture: Glasgow City Council
The Millennium Bridge and Bell's Bridge which link the Glasgow Science Centre and BBC Scotland with the Armadillo and Hydro at the Scottish Event Campus are magnets for sunset photographers. Picture: Glasgow City Council

But I have often reflected on its relatively barren banks compared to those of cities like Melbourne, whose buzz of bars and cafes along the Yarra I vividly remember riding past on my last visit to an expat west coast Scot.

Some amazing buildings have appeared along the Clyde over the last few decades, such as the Glasgow Science Centre, the Armadillo and Hydro venues at the Scottish Event Campus (SEC), and the Riverside Museum.

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They provide spectacular backdrops to a ride, especially when lit up at night, along with the illuminations from other landmarks such as BBC Scotland’s headquarters and the Clydeside Distillery which occupies the former Queen’s Dock pumphouse beside the Clydeside Expressway.

The Clyde Arc "Squinty Bridge" and Millennium Tower at dusk. Picture: Glasgow City Council

The river – the city’s largest continuous open space – also affords some fantastic views, such as past the SS Glenlee “Tall Ship” towards the city centre from a section of walkway in Govan opened by native Sir Alex Ferguson three years ago.

Spectacular sunsets and dazzling nightscapes are a magnet for throngs to capture the moment from the Millennium and Bell’s bridges.

I know I have on the way home, taking some of my most memorable images of Glasgow over the years.

However, in my forays along the river, there is still so much waste ground and so many derelict sites, years after promised developments.

Looking upstream towards Glasgow city centre. Picture: Glasgow City Council

There are also frustrating gaps in the riverside path, especially on the south bank, forcing inland detours, such as between the Kingston and Clyde Arc “Squinty” bridges, and around Govan Graving Docks, where Steven Spielberg filmed part of 1917.

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It was thus with great interest I read of plans to finally sort these in a blueprint for the river over the next 30 years, published by the city council this week.

It calls for the joining up of these discontinuous walkways to make the Clyde part of a network of walking and cycling routes along Glasgow’s waterways, which also includes the River Kelvin and the Forth & Clyde Canal.

Double arrows showing planned bridges at Yoker, Partick, beside the Glasgow Science Centre and over the River Kelvin. Picture: Glasgow City Council/Ordnance Survey. Crown Copyright and database right 2019. OS Licence No 100023379

The “strategic development framework” also highlights no less than four new bridges planned for the Clyde.

As well as the widely publicised crossing between Partick and Govan, and the replacement for the Renfrew-Yoker ferry on Glasgow’s western city limit, maps also show a bridge over the Kelvin near its mouth at the Clyde, and across to the Graving Docks from the Millennium Tower beside the Science Centre.

They provide a host of new route options for riders and walkers.

Their potential significance is reflected in the strategy noting that the Tradeston “Sqiggly” Bridge in the city centre was “instrumental” in the current development of the adjacent Buchanan Wharf for offices and housing – one of Scotland’s biggest such projects.

There could even be scope for a fifth new river crossing between there and the Squinty Bridge.

The Clyde was once the industrial focus of Glasgow – and Scotland. The city was later accused of turning its back on the river, but as this document reveals, it is still making an about turn to appreciate once more the waterway’s potential.

The challenge is to ensure this is not yet another glossy document and beomes the catalyst for tangible progress by the time the eyes of the world focus on the Clyde when the COP26 climate change conference comes to the SEC next year.

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