A TRAFFIC free George square can be the key to unlocking a people friendly city centre.


Removing all traffic from the historic square can put it at the heart of a pedestrian friendly network from Charing Cross to Glasgow Cross.
Just now the city has few fully traffic free pedestrianised streets and squares uninterrupted by traffic.

Read more:  Our Evening Times opinion on George Square


Sauchiehall Street is fully pedestrianised from Blythswood Street to Buchanan Street, but with crossings at Hope Street and Renfield street.
While Buchanan Street is traffic free the whole length with crossings at Bath Street Nelson, Mandela Place and St Vincent Street.
And Argyle Street is only from Queen Street to Glassford Street
A car free George Square would mean no cars on Nelson Mandela Place and could also free up St Vincent Place.
It would mean Cochrane Street would be pedestrianised and would link though to the Merchant City, via John Street, which is already more pedestrian friendly down to Glasgow Cross.
The council is seeking views on the future of George Square before it commissions a design and the Evening Times believes a traffic free square should be the central part of the plan.


It will greatly improve the air quality in the city’s prime civic square allowing people to breathe cleaner air.

Read more Survey backs traffic free George Square


With the right public transport alterations it would allow people to get to the city centre by bus, subway or train or use one of the many car parks all around the periphery and then be free to walk around.
More pedestrian streets and people friendly streets around the square would provide opportunities for businesses to create pavement cafés or for events and meeting places.
The city’s Connectivity Commission report earlier this year recommended the aim should be a city centre designed for people not cars.
A traffic free George Square would a huge step in that direction complementing the Avenues Programme that is transforming Sauchiehall Street and then moving on to Argyle Street creating more priority space for people.
It would still allow traffic to get through the city centre that needs to, but allow more space for people not in cars by reducing the space for people in cars.
Professor Brian Evans, Glasgow’s City Urbanist, backs more people friendly spaces.
He said: “I support the proposition that we change the balance of space between the vehicle and people.”
In the Connectivity Commission phase one report it recommended putting people at the top of a transport hierarchy and extending the work of the Avenues Programme into George Square.
It stated “As a matter of policy principle we recommend that Glasgow City Council adopts and adheres to the recognised transport hierarchy for street space prioritising the movement of people, cyclists, public transport use and private vehicles, in that order. 
“The acceleration of the Avenues project and its extension into other parts of the city centre such as George Square, Argyle Street, Cathedral Street and High Street.”

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When the report was launched, Commission chair Prof, David Begg advocated a traffic free square at the heat of a city centre re prioritised for people.
He said there would be some people who say don’t pedestrianise George Square.
His response was: “B*******, just do it.”


MAP

Evening Times:
The city centre is recognised as being bounded by the M8 at Charing Cross in the west to high Street and Glasgow Cross in the east from the River Clyde in the south to Cowcaddens in the north.
With a few changes a walking friendly city centre from Charing Cross to Glasgow Cross is achievable.
From the new avenues with wider pavements on Sauchiehall street to the pedestrian precinct joining up to Buchanan Street is already showing an improvement.
Our map shows the areas currently pedestrianised or pedestrian friendly in Green.
By making the green dotted streets traffic free pedestrianising George Square and Nelson Mandela Place linked by West George Street, creates a network stretching west to east. 
It also removes traffic from St Vincent Place along to West Nile street allowing Buchanan Street to be pedestrianised with no crossings from Bath Street to Argyle Street,
From George Square, a traffic free Cochrane street links into the Merchant city which is pedestrian friendly down to Glasgow Cross.