ONE of the nicer side-effects of lockdown has been quieter streets.

Birdsong is louder, neighbourhood cats are venturing further (causing dramatic scenes in our back court) and more people are out walking, wheeling and cycling.

These ways of getting around will stay essential in the months ahead, as physical distancing continues but the number of commuters gradually increases.

It’s inevitable that many will feel public transport is not safe in the short term, but it’s crucial that we don’t return to streets gridlocked with cars. Cycling is not only great for our health and for improving air quality – it’s a cheaper way to get around a city where over half of households don’t have a car.

We know many of us in Glasgow want to cycle more, but don’t feel safe because our roads have no separation between people cycling and heavy traffic.

In cities like Copenhagen, entire families cycle to work and school because their streets were deliberately built in a way that keeps all road users safer.

Nobody would want a small child cycling in front of a bus, so why are Glasgow’s roads currently built like that?

Right now, we have a window of opportunity for introducing measures to move us to a more sustainable way of life. Glasgow City Council has closed Kelvin Way to traffic and opened a ‘pop-up’ cycle route along the Broomielaw.

These are welcome, as is news of a funding bid submitted to Sustrans.

However, we need to go further.

While lockdown will lift eventually, the Climate Emergency is nowhere near being addressed. We need to fundamentally change how we get around – cycling needs to become the easiest, fastest, most convenient way to travel.

Let’s be more ambitious than putting out some cones now and taking them away again in a few months.

Green MSP Mark Ruskell won support this week to extend the life of pop-up cycle lanes and other measures to make safe social distancing possible. Councils will now be able to keep these in place for 18 months, ensuring protection for all road users, even when traffic gets busier.

Some new road schemes might not be perfect immediately. That’s ok – but we stand a better chance of getting this right if we work collaboratively with local communities.

They know which streets could be immediately closed to all except local traffic, making residential areas dramatically better for walking, wheeling and cycling at minimal cost.

They know which roads could be quickly improved, like creating cycle lanes on big arterial routes which already have four lanes for traffic.

Community organisations like On Bikes in Blackhill, who made their own pop-up cycle lane this week, have been shouting for a long time that we need cycle provision across the whole city, not just the wealthier areas.

Green councillors’ inboxes are full of local people champing at the bit to get involved. Let’s use local knowledge and expertise to co-design a joined-up city that is safer, healthier and more sustainable as we build back better.