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Glasgow City Council

Commute by bike

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Glasgow's cycling infrastructure is improving every year. Currently we have just over 301 km of cycle lanes of various types. We have also surpassed our installation of cycle racks of 100 per year each year since 2007.

Why should I commute by bicycle?

You have no fuel costs and you build exercise into your daily routine. Your pollution free commute contributes to the overall reduction in petrol or diesel use and the resultant pollution, making Glasgow greener whilst helping the environment by reducing your personal carbon footprint.

Glasgow is developing cycle routes from the city centre called City Ways. These are designed to help as many people as possible travel sustainably to work, leisure, education and home. They are enhanced by features such as segregated cycle lanes, raised crossings, connections with other sustainable modes of travel such as train and bus services and links into the wider cycle network.

Where can I cycle?

Cycles are permitted to use the carriageway of all non-motorway roads, unless specifically prohibited. Carriageways are the section of a road normally used by motor vehicles. Cycles are prohibited from all motorways.

Footways are the sections of a road normally reserved for pedestrians. As stated in the Highway Code, cycling is prohibited on footways, unless specifically permitted. Typical exceptions to this are shared surfaces and routes designated as core paths. In order to make cycling legal on footways they have to be specified (designated) in law as cycling being permitted via designation as a "shared surface". Nevertheless, the pedestrian retains right of passage within the boundary of any constructed road.

Purpose built on-road or segregated cycle lanes provide additional safety for users. However, there is no legal obligation to stay in an on-road cycle lane where provided.

Footpaths (including canal towpaths and bridleways) are those constructed paths that are remote from the road network, for example paths through a park, as well as rights of way, specifically for pedestrian use. Although generally traffic free, some vehicles may use these paths subject to permission e.g. maintenance vehicles. Levels of construction can vary considerably. Such paths fall within the outdoor access code and cycling is permitted on these unless specifically excluded.

Core Paths are designated paths, waterways or any other means of crossing land to facilitate, promote and manage the exercise of access rights under the Land Reform (Scotland) Act 2003, and are identified as such in access authority core paths plans. It should be noted that whilst cycling may be permitted, the path in its current form may not be suitable for cycling. As such vigilance should be exercised when using such paths.

Shared Surfaces, Core Paths and Outdoor Access. Such paths and surfaces depend on mutual respect and consideration. This includes showing care to not unnecessarily hinder the progress of other users. Walkers and cyclists should be aware of each other and ensure sufficient space is given to ensure safety and comfort of other users.

What equipment do I need?

First thing, you need a bicycle or at least access to one. Glasgow has an already extensive and growing Cycle Hire scheme provided by Next Bike. This has docking stations in and around the city. Use of the hire scheme means you don't have to store a bike and don't need to service it either. It's all done for you. Further details are available from the Next Bike website.

If you don't have a bike hire station near you, or you just prefer to have your own bike there are many cycle shops and community enterprises from which you can obtain new and used cycles. Whatever you get, make sure it is comfortable for your body shape. An uncomfortable ill fitting bike is not likely to be enjoyable to ride and probably won't get used as often as you want to.

Cycle Helmets.

Whilst you are not legally obliged to wear a cycle helmet we do recommend that you wear one. It will help protect your head in the event of an accident and hopefully minimise any injury. Make sure it fits securely and is well ventilated. It is also recommended that helmets are replaced at three yearly intervals as the materials can degrade over time.

Gloves or mitts

Cycling gloves (full finger) and mitts (half finger) have a small amount of padding in the palm area and help reduce any vibration and improve grip on the handle bars. They will also help protect your hands if you fall from the bike. Mitts are more suited to spring to autumn cycling. There are a variety of styles and many full fingered gloves have light breathable materials making them suitable for spring to autumn use without your hands getting too warm. In winter you generally need slightly thicker gloves.

General clothing

If your daily commute or cycle use is only a couple of miles you can get usually just wear normal clothing. Remember to make sure that any flappy trouser legs are kept out of the way of the chain by using a snap band or trouser clip. If you don't have one handy, you can tuck loose trousers into your sock. In wet weather be aware of the potential for water to spray from the tyres. Mudguards are a good investment and light weight plastic guards are easy to fit and inexpensive.  

Make sure that your shoes are comfortable for cycling can grip with the pedals in all weather conditions. A more sturdy sole transfers energy more efficiently.

Bike Locks

We recommend that you get a good quality "Sold Secure" bike lock. In particular, we recommend the use of a Gold or Silver standard  "Shackle" or "D" type lock. These are more difficult to break or cut through and most potential thieves will leave your bike alone. Get the best you can reasonably afford.

Make sure you lock through the frame and the rear wheel, preferably onto the top closed loop of a cycle stand. If your front wheel is on a quick release lever, an additional loop cable will make it more difficult to steal. These are heavy but will keep your bike more secure! Think of it as additional exercise making you even fitter!


If you use shared paths or cycle in the city you will need a bell as people walking and other cyclists have as much right to be using these routes as you do.

Remember, a bell is just a means of saying you are there. It doesn't convey any level of annoyance. Being able to say hello to people as you pass is good for your mood and can make other peoples' day much more pleasant too.

Cycling and the Law

If you are riding at night your bike must have front and rear lights. It must also have a rear reflector. Full guidance is given in Rule 60 of The Highway Code.

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