Is Glasgow a 20-minute city?

Is Glasgow a 20-minute city?

Is Glasgow a 20-minute City?

Unbelievably, we are already at the halfway mark for this year’s 20-minute cities series. We continue the quest this month by looking at Scotland’s most settled city Glasgow.

About the Project

Each month we are focusing on a different city and creating 5 accessibility maps. To supermarkets, hospitals and GPs, primary schools, secondary schools, and public transport stops.

All the cities begin with a foundation of a detailed road and footpath network, for cities in Great Britain we used OS Highways; now available in Datacutter. On top of this, Basemap layered the public transport network, for consistency, public transport data will all be taken from Q4 2020, allowing for any drastic changes to happen in 2021 without skewing the comparison results.

For the origins, Basemap created a grid of points based on the city boundary and then found the Points of Interest (POI) within this boundary for each destination type. This means that the accessibility to these destination points could reach beyond the city boundary but for the scope of this series we are specifically looking at the accessibility within the city limits. Due to the different countries within this project, the Points of Interest was sourced from various places and will be referenced for each individual city.

With some interesting results in last month’s blog on Edinburgh we were curious to see how these will compare against its sister city Glasgow.

The results for Glasgow are in…


Upon quick inspection, accessibility in Glasgow looks to be remarkably better than Edinburgh, which is a smaller and more compact city in comparison. Making the results all the more surprising as you might assume that it would be easier to get around on public transport in a smaller city more quickly.

Hospitals and GPs are one of the more accessible destinations in Glasgow with 97.14% of the population being able to get to any one of the available 181 points. More notably, is that a large majority of the residents aren’t required to travel more than 10 minutes making accessibility all the better.

Although there are small areas of inaccessibility around the edges of the city, with most being in the North, though it can be reasonably assumed that this due to the lack of hospitals and GP’s within this area.

We’re observing a very similar trend in accessibility to supermarkets as shown in the previous map. There is a significant increase in the number of points with there being as many as 874 supermarkets in Glasgow. Despite there being a substantial difference in numbers, access to these destinations is only a little higher when compared to Hospitals and GPs at 97.65% making it also the most accessible across the board.

Less inaccessibility around the city’s edge in the East and South and a wider spread of up to 10-minute travel times are strong indicators of the increase in access.

Another similar picture of access to the preceding maps but with a nominal rise in accessibility for 5-10 year olds to primary schools (97.26%) if only comparing to Hospitals and GPs in spite of having fewer points (138).

Whilst slightly more accessible, there are some interesting variations between the time ranges with additional and greater pockets of the 10-20 minute range but also some areas where travel has reduced to 10 minutes or less. This is likely because of the placement of primary schools.

With secondary schools (41) we’re witnessing the lowest accessibility out of all the services. Secondary schools are only accessible within 20 minutes to 90.59% of 11-16 year olds with a relatively even split between the two travel ranges.
Inaccessibility is still present in the same areas of Glasgow but slightly more widespread than before.

Walk access to public transport stops is surprisingly lower (49.03%) than what would have been expected especially as there are as many as 2736 stops within a 400m walking distance. This has no bearing on the previous results however as residents of Glasgow can still access many of the areas with no stops present.
There does seem to be a strong correlation between the lack of public transport stops and the areas where access to services are outside of the 20-minute mark.

There are of course many factors that make a city a 20-minute city, some of which we have highlighted in our previous blogs including this one such as the number of destinations. Whilst Glasgow is an incredibly accessible area and undoubtedly part of the 20-minute city concept, it was clear that some areas missed the mark was it not for the absence of public transport stops and key services. As said before, should there be more of these services allocated to areas where needed then there would likely be a rise in accessibility.

Having looked at neighbouring cities Glasgow and Edinburgh, it also goes to show how key the underlying public transport infrastructure can be especially for larger cities, which in turn can make some of the biggest places the most accessible.

Basemap 20 minute city glasgow

You’re in for a treat this month with not just one blog but TWO! As we’re finally able to do some international travelling albeit for some of us it will remain virtual, we’re going to attempt to visit the Land Down Under. Keep an eye out for our next post to find out where in Australia we are exploring a potential 20-minute city.

Keziah is the Digital Marketing Executive at Basemap Ltd. She has almost 2 years experience in the digital realm after graduating from the University of Plymouth with a BA in Illustration and an MA in Publishing.