The removal this week of physical protection for people cycling on a section of London Road, because of fears the cycle lane separators will be a trip hazard for football fans, is a reminder why Glasgow needs to be bolder still in promoting active travel.

The East End scheme was one of many created via the Spaces for People initiative, which has supported additional space for walking, cycling and wheeling during the pandemic.

In Glasgow, that has included creating 44km of ‘pop-up’ cycle lanes, making active travel safer and more convenient for everyday journeys, alongside measures to widen footways and to create safer school streets.

While some of these changes were met with polarised debate, it’s clear that they were needed to help people keep a safe distance from each other and to allow safer travel.

Scottish Greens believe they should have a long-term future too, as we redesign our city’s public spaces to meet changing needs.

When the Council accepted the funding from the Scottish Government for Spaces for People, Green councillors won an agreement that all temporary measures would be evaluated with a view to making them permanent. The council has since carried out a public consultation and an independent evaluation report is due later this year. In other local areas, we’ve seen politicians decide to go back to streets that are less safe. Aberdeen City Council has already agreed to remove most of its Spaces for People measures saying they have ‘served their purpose’. In Edinburgh, while most schemes will be continued for a further 18 months, a row over one key cycle lane, which administration politicians wanted to remove to allow more car parking, has left its fate hanging in the balance.

We must not make the same mistakes in Glasgow.

These were very modest changes. 44km of new cycle lanes might sound a lot, but it’s just a tiny fraction of the 1,900km of roads across the city. With cities like Paris, which is investing £225m in a ‘gridlock to garden’ transformation of the Champs-Élysées, leading the way, it’s clear that much more ambition is still needed in Glasgow. When councillors come to consider the future of our Spaces for People schemes, the key questions we should ask are whether they prioritise sustainable transport, in line with the transport hierarchy, and whether they make it more or less safe for vulnerable road users to get around.

Where feedback does raise concerns - and there will be imperfections given that these were temporary schemes, implemented at pace - the focus should be on improving what’s there, rather than removing protection altogether. Studies have shown that cycle lanes with no physical separators can increase injury to people cycling by more than a third.

Importantly, we must be firm in setting out why more and better active travel infrastructure is essential to a safer, sustainable and inclusive future.

We all have different mobility needs and deserve a range of high quality options to meet those. But in a city where fewer than half of people own a car, yet huge areas of public spaces are given over to using and storing them, it’s clear we have got the balance wrong.

Having recently set out plans to achieve net zero carbon emissions by 2030, and ahead of the city hosting the COP26 climate summit, now is not the time for Glasgow to be going backwards on active travel.