More than 25,000 delegates are set to descend on Glasgow in less than two weeks when the Cop26 climate summit which was delayed by Covid-19 finally begins.
Hosted by the UK under the presidency of former business secretary Alok Sharma and in partnership with Italy, the summit at the city’s Scottish Event Campus (SEC) will bring together the biggest gathering of world leaders ever assembled on British soil.
The conference will run for 12 days, from Sunday 31 October to Friday 12 November.
A huge logistical undertaking, Cop26 will see 140 heads of state including Boris Johnson, US president Joe Biden, French president Emmanuel Macron, Indian prime minister Narendra Modi and Brazilian president Jair Bolsonaro decend on Glagow.
They will each bring with them a bustling entourage of advisers, envoys and security personnel.
The United Nations summit, which is the 26th of its kind, is also expected to attract scores of environmental activists and protesters to Scotland who are determined to make their voices heard at this pivotal moment for the future of our planet.
With thousands of people set to arrive in the city for the summit at the end of October, Transport Scotland has warned that the scale of the event “is unprecedented in terms of impact on the transport network”.
To accommodate a conference of this magnitude, organisers in Glasgow have had to plan carefully to mitigate the disruption, with the first road closures coming into effect a full week before Cop26 kicks off, running from Saturday 23 October until Monday 15 November.
Letters, maps and further guidance have been sent out to approximately 9,000 people living in the Finnieston, Anderston and Yorkhill areas of the city close to the SEC, warning them of the coming disruption and advising residents on how best to navigate it.
“The best ways to keep moving are to: use the maps to plan alternative routes; allow more time for your journey; leave the car at home and use public transport or walk or cycle where possible,” Get Ready Glasgow advises.
Here’s a breakdown of the transport changes which will be in place for the duration of the summit.
The main road closures will be on the A814 Clydeside Expressway, Clyde Arc and Finnieston Street.
However, alternative routes are being opened up to replace them via the Great Western Road, Paisley Road West and the Clyde Tunnel.
The following timings for closures have been announced:
- Congress Road: Closed 6am 10 October to 6am 17 November.
- Congress Way, Finnieston Quay, Tunnel Street, Stobcross Road (section Parallel to A814) and Castlebank Street: These roads will be subject to lane restrictions and road closures between 17-23 October. Full road closure 9pm 24 October to 6am 21 November.
- Clyde Arc and Lancefield Quay: Road Closure 9pm 23 October to 6am Monday 15 November. Note: Clyde Arc and Lancefield Quay will reopen to service buses only at 6am 24 October.
- Finnieston Street-Houldsworth Street to Lancefield Quay: Road Closure 9pm 24 October to 6am Monday 15 November. Local access southbound will be maintained until 28 October.
- Clydeside Expressway-Partick Interchange to Anderston (Junction 19): Road Closure 9pm Saturday 23 October to 6am Monday 15 November.
- Minerva Street-West Greenhill Place: Road Closed 6am 28 October to 6am 13 November. Local access to private car parks is maintained.
As for the motorways, strategic links between Glasgow and Edinburgh, where many world leaders will be staying, like the M8 and M74 are expected to be the worst hit by disruption.
Traffic jams and delays are expected on the M8 Junction 25 westbound off-ramp (towards the Clyde Tunnel), as more traffic heads towards the tunnel northbound and from the tunnel southbound while the main carriageway of the M74 on the approach to the M8 Braids section is expected to be extremely busy.
Further complicating the picture is the fact that RMT union members working for ScotRail and Caledonian Sleeper have threatened to strike during Cop26 as part of an ongoing row over pay and working conditions.
Unite’s Stagecoach staff have also backed industrial action during the summit, although Transport Scotland has said it is hopeful that constructive talks between the concerned parties before the conference gets underway will mean further travel headaches can be avoided.
In better news for attendees, a fleet of free electric buses is being laid on for delegates to allow them to shuttle between the city centre and the SEC.
Very appropriately given the topic under discussion, cycling could prove to be the most straightforward way of getting around Glasgow during Cop26, with the city council making its bike hire scheme “Nextbike” free to use for all registered attendees as well as volunteers and local residents.
That said, several parts of the National Cycle Network running north of the River Clyde from Glasgow Green to Loch Lomond close to the SEC will be shut for security reasons. They are as follows:
- C93E (Millennium Bridge)
- C93F (Bells Bridge)
- Part of C93 (Clyde Walkway (North) between Beith Way and Finnieston Street)
- Part of C93A (between Finnieston Quay and Minerva Street)
- C93C (between the Riverside Museum and Stobcross Road)
- Part of C109 (Clyde Walkway (South) at Pacific Quay)
- Part of C54A (Expressway Overbridge at Anderston)
- Part of C54B (M8 Overbridge at Anderston)
- River Kelvin ‘Core Path on Water’ at Kelvin Harbour
People wishing to visit Glasgow during Cop26 are advised to plan their trip in advance and be prepared for significant travel disruption.
Some days are expected to be busier than others, not least Saturday 6 November, which has been designated Global Day For Climate Justice and is expected to see an estimated 100,000 protesters descend on the city for a march beginning at Kelvingrove Park at noon before making its way to Glasgow Green for 3pm.
The following resources should help Cop26 attendees and locals navigate the city when the summit gets underway: