September 2016: GCC and Cosain make joint submission on proposed Garda code of ethics.

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In August the Policing Authority published a draft Code of Ethics for the Garda Síochána and opened a public consultation. Under the Garda Síochana Act the Authority must put together a Code of Ethics for the Garda Síochána that includes standards of conduct and practice for Garda members and encourages and facilitates the reporting of wrongdoing in the Garda Síochána.

In preparing this Code the Authority’s considerations include: standards in other EU states, the relevant recommendations of the Council of Europe, and the policing principles. The policing principles state that policing services are to be provided:

(i) independently and impartially
(ii) in a manner that respects human rights
(iii) in a manner that supports the proper and effective administration of justice.

For vulnerable road users such as cyclists and pedestrians, policing is fundamental to the risks we face and to the sense of threat that many of us experience in using the roads on a daily basis.

As a result, walking lobby group Cosain (Community Road Safety Action & Information Network) and the Galway Cycling Campaign made a joint submission on the draft Code of Ethics. Drafted at short notice, the submission dealt with four main issues:

  • Perceived tolerance among higher Garda management for violent conduct in the shared public roads environment.
  • Child safety.
  • The role of the Garda Síochana: Are they a police force or primarily agents of economic activity?
  • The role of the courts.

The introduction to the draft code of ethics envisages that the Garda Síochána have a role “in protecting the vulnerable and promoting a safe and peaceful society”. Definitions of “peaceful” include “not involving war or violence”. Definitions of “violence” include “intimidation by the exhibition of force” and “unlawful exercise of physical force”.

If “peace” or “peacefulness” implies an absence of intimidation by exhibitions of unlawful force, then, from the perspective of vulnerable road users, the current Garda Síochána have manifestly failed in the way they police public roads infrastructure. In our submission we draw on the recent penalty points scandals and the ongoing speed camera scandal as creating a perception of a current Garda management culture that tolerates and approves of behaviours that put many in fear for their lives.

On child safety the submission points out that, unlike other countries in Europe, the Irish State seems not to recognize a duty of care towards children using public roads. Nor does Irish law impose a specific duty of care by adults towards children. In German traffic law, for example, if a driver encounters a child, older person or person with a disability, then that driver has a duty to moderate their speed and be prepared to stop if necessary. There is no such law in Ireland.

The submission points out that the state imposes a duty on children to attend school but does not appear to recognise a duty towards children travelling to or from school. Indeed, the opposite is the case: the state’s efforts seem concentrated on trying to create a “duty” among children towards adult motorists rather than the other way around. This official attitude to child safety has resulted in one of the highest rates of child pedestrian death in Europe, followed by restrictions in child mobility and large falls in walking and cycling to school. The submission asks if the current draft code of ethics would support Gardai who try to protect child road users at the expense of the perceived convenience of adult motorists. We also ask if the draft code creates an explicit duty on Gardai to protect children from threatening adult behaviours. Finally, we ask if the code vindicates the right of children to go about their lawful daily business and places a specific duty on Gardai to uphold that right.

We then explore the role of the Gardai in their activities concerning road traffic. There is an impression that some members of the force see themselves as agents of economic activity first and see providing a police service as a secondary role. Evidence for this is provided in the widespread and persistent blocking of footpaths and cycle tracks by parked or stationary vehicles. There is a well-founded impression among observers that the Gardai tacitly approve of such behaviour on the basis that preferentially blocking cyclists and pedestrians is better than impeding “traffic flow”. It can appear that the Gardai treat movements of motor vehicles as a proxy for economic activity, and treat movements on foot or by bike as having no economic value. The state already has other agencies that exist to further the interests of commerce. Is furthering commerce also a specific and primary function of the Gardai? If the answer is no, and if the Gardai are a police service first, then the code of ethics must protect individual Gardai in providing a police service.

Finally, we raise the issue that the problem might also lie with the courts. Gardai may be discouraged from protecting the public because they perceive that their efforts will be treated poorly by the courts. Does the draft code of ethics empower Gardai to speak out if they are being undermined by the judiciary?

GCC/Cosain Submission

 

Budget 2017: Campaign repeats call for action to address car dependent local authorities

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Cyclists repeat call for action on local councils who are “Addicted to Cars

 

 

For Budget 2017 the Galway Cycling Campaign restated its call on the previous Government to remove car-parking revenue from local authorities and take away financial incentives to promote private-cars over other forms of transport. Figures in a 2010 report for the Irish Parking Association show that nationally, Irish local authorities accounted for 27% of car-parking capacity and 33% of parking revenue. The local council component of the business accounted for €115 million in annual revenue. The Cycling Campaign submission points out that car-parking revenue gives local authority managers a financial motive to prioritise cars over other forms of transport. This conflict of interest has strong negative implications for state transport policy.

The submission was sent to the following Ministers who all have a role in Government policy and local authority funding.

  • Michael Noonan T.D. Minister for Finance
  • Paschal Donohoe T.D. Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform,
  • Simon Coveney T.D. Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government
  • Denis Naughten T.D. Minister for Communications, Climate Action and the Environment

Our discussion document Addicted to Cars was passed to the Ministers, it points out that the state has invested in measures intended to promote sustainable travel such as walking, cycling and public transport, yet little overall growth has been seen. The way councils use funds for sustainable transport often creates new problems or avoids fixing old ones. Worse: a situation continues where state funds meant to support sustainable transport end up being used essentially to facilitate car travel. Irish cycle lanes often seem to disappear just where they are needed, with cyclists finding their way blocked by parked cars and traffic jams. Other negative impacts include creating one-way streets so that additional road space can be used for car parking, often this has the practical effect of making it illegal for children to cycle to school. In some cases local authorities have spent state funds in a way that avoids key aspects of the recommendations behind the project. We use the example of the Coke zero Bikeshare in Galway. City Bikeshare stations were installed without bringing in the two-way cycling on one-way streets that was part of the proposal.

To fix the problem, we propose a system of strategic parking levies. A system of car-parking levies would also have wider uses such as providing support for businesses in town centres and support for anti-congestion projects such as park and ride schemes. Such levies could be used to provide a level-playing field between hard-pressed town centres and out-of-town shopping centres that should not have been allowed in the first place.

Only the offices of Minister Noonan and Donohue acknowledged receipt of the submission. There was no reply discussing the issue which is clearly a major obstacle to the implementation of state policy.

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Galway City (Bohermore): Google Street View showing this strategic access corridor, the local authority has removed road space from cyclists to provide paid on-street parking. The disk parking arrangements with painted parking lanes and ticket machines can be seen.

See our discussion paper: Addicted to cars; the role of car parking revenue for Irish local authorities and implications for state policy.

One way streets croppedGalway City: Galway Cycling Campaign poster illustrating impact of city council practices on child cyclists.

20150927_Market_St_Street_View_with_notesGalway City: Google Street View showing Market St. at the Connacht Tribune Office. The street is one-way going towards the viewer. There is a Bikeshare station on Mainguard Street near St Nicholas Church in the background. The distance to the next Bikeshare station at Newtownsmith is 350m. Because of the one-way street system and a ban on cycling in the pedestrian zone, the return journey from Newtownsmith to Mainguard St. is 1.1km by the northern Route and 2.1 km by the southern route. In the background is St Patricks National School – schoolchildren face similar diversions. The disk parking arrangements with painted parking lanes and ticket machines can be seen.

City Council Removes Road Capacity from Cyclists on Tuam Road.

Is the city council sabotaging Government efforts to promote cycling?

20151125_google_maps_extractCaption: Google maps image showing location on Tuam Rd.

Since the 1980s Galway City has had a history of poor attitudes being shown by local council officials towards walking and cycling. The latest example is on the Tuam Road – a key corridor linking the city with the industrial areas around Ballybrit and Parkmore. Within the last month, the city council has revised road markings on a section of the Tuam Road. The net effect is to remove road capacity from cyclists. This follows an established pattern of the city council “sterilising” key corridors into the city for cycling – previous examples include the Headford Road and the N59 at Dangan. It also follows the recent removal of road capacity from cyclists at the key junction at the Fire Station/Fairhill on Fr Griffin Rd.

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ONE-WAY STREETS IMPEDING BIKE SHARE SUCCESS

Final_GCC_logo_7_06_2010Galway Cycling Campaign welcomed the launch of the city bike share scheme (Coca-Cola Zero Bikes) a year ago, but its success was in doubt from the start once the planned station on University Road was not built.

City Hall, in a last minute U-turn, removed one of the three largest docking stations from the scheme due to concerns over loss of 4–5 car parking spaces. “The decision to completely remove a station capable of holding up to 30 bicycles, one of only three of that size, clearly showed the priorities of City Hall at the time. UHG and NUIG lost their primary docking station link to the city centre even before rollout,” said Robert Mc Kenny, Campaign Chair.

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Cycling Campaign welcomes decision to suspend funding on Athlone Galway cycle route

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Need for root and branch review of entire project

 

 

The Galway Cycling Campaign has welcomed the decision by the Minister for Transport, Mr. Paschal Donohoe TD, to suspend funding for the controversial Galway section of a proposed cross country cycleway.  We think there should now be a root and branch review of the conduct of the project agencies which has caused consternation among landowners along the route. The NRA and Council Roads departments were clearly not suitable to deliver such a project and it should now be given to other agencies. The suspension of the project was needed since it was having a damaging effect on whole concept of cycle tourism and recreational cycling in rural areas. The behaviour of the NRA and County Council Roads departments threatened to do profound damage to the development of cycling tourism in Galway and nationally.

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Budget 2016: Cycling Campaign calls for car-parking income to be taken from councils

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Cyclists call for action on local councils who are “addicted to cars

 

 

In a pre-budget submission, the Galway Cycling Campaign is calling on the Government to remove car-parking revenue from local authorities and take away financial incentives to promote private-cars over other forms of transport.  Figures in a 2010 report for the Irish Parking Association show that nationally, Irish local authorities accounted for 27% of car-parking capacity and 33% of parking revenue.  The local council component of the business accounted for €115 million in annual revenue.  The Cycling Campaign submission points out that car-parking revenue gives local authority managers a financial motive to prioritise cars over other forms of transport. This conflict of interest has strong negative implications for state transport policy.

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Budget 2016: Cyclists call for deposit on glass bottles

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Budget 2016: Stop the puncture problem at source say cyclists

 

 

 

The Galway Cycling Campaign has made a submission on Budget 2016 calling for a national deposit scheme on glass bottles.

Moving motor vehicles have a “sweeping” effect that pushes broken glass, gravel and grit to the edge of the roadway. Cycle lanes and cycle tracks are parts of the road that no longer get “swept” by passing cars, so they automatically collect more of this unwelcome material.

Scaled 2013-02-22 10.24.28Broken glass on a Galway cycle path

Roadside cycle paths in particular can be hard to reach for the usual Irish road-sweeping vehicles, and many are notorious for collecting broken glass. One UK study found that cycle track users are seven times more likely than road cyclists to get punctures.[i] 

For a cyclist in a city like Galway, getting a puncture while you are approaching a roundabout can also be a serious safety issue.

The Netherlands, Germany and Denmark all have deposit schemes on glass bottles, but Ireland does not. It is our view that to support the Government’s Smarter Travel programmes, Ireland needs to introduce compulsory deposits on glass bottles.

[i] Franklin, J. (1999). Two decades of the Redway cycle paths of Milton Keynes. Traffic Engineering and Control, Aug. 1999.

Cycling Campaign say old N6 not suitable location for International Greenway

Final_GCC_logo_7_06_2010IFA and NRA sabotage jobs boost for East Galway

Funding should be scrapped or go elsewhere if suitable route not found

 

 

The Galway Cycling Campaign has called on the Minister for Transport, Mr. Paschal Donohoe TD, to reject IFA proposals to put a local section of an international greenway beside the old N6. Controversy has erupted about the routing of the Galway section of the Eurovelo 2 cycling route. The route is meant to start in Galway and end in Moscow and much of the mainland sections are already in place. Conflict has arisen between the IFA and the NRA who have proposed to CPO farmers’ land to construct the route.

Eurovelo 2 route from Wikimedia Commons uploaded by user Rbrausse. Adapted from European Cyclists’ Federation Eurovelo routes map

Eurovelo 2 route from Wikimedia Commons uploaded by user Rbrausse. Adapted from European Cyclists’ Federation Eurovelo routes map

The cyclists say both sides are at fault with the NRA approach viewed as poorly managed and divisive. The county council and NRA seem to have ignored standard methods for providing such routes without splitting farms. The cyclists accept that the appointment of the NRA to lead the project has been highly questionable and that the NRA involvement has not been positive. However, the IFA suggestion of putting a Greenway beside a busy road is equally flawed and would make the country a laughing stock.

The cyclists say a reality check is needed. The Greenway represents strategic international infrastructure and, if implemented correctly, could open up a huge new tourism product for East Galway. Elsewhere in Europe cycling tourism is big business. Over 5 million Germans take a cycling holiday every year. Domestically, the German cycling tourism market has sales of more than €9 billion annually. In 2010 just over one million Dutch people went on a cycling holiday with the potential market estimated at €1.7 million. For the Italian tourism market, adventure holidays (of which cycling is a part) generated €510,000 million of travel retail sales in 2008. In 2008, around 970,000 UK holiday makers took part in cycling while on holiday. There is also a large untapped Irish market. In 2007, research found that 28% of Irish adults had used a bicycle in the previous year.

Between the towns of Gort, Loughrea and Ballinasloe there are currently over 5000 people on the live register. Retail in Ballinasloe has been decimated. The cycling route represents an enormous opportunity for communities along its path – including the farming community. By pushing a “solution” that would destroy the essential nature of the Greenway, the IFA are open to the accusation that they are sabotaging economic recovery for local communities and towns in East Galway.

Following a brief meeting with the Minister on Monday 31st of August, the cycling campaign is to bring forward alternative proposals for a different process for creating such routes. The cycling campaign endorses the view that it is better to redirect any funds elsewhere in the country than to spend them on a second class version of a cycling route in Galway.

Note on cycling tourism in Europe.

In 2010 the Dutch ministry of foreign affairs commissioned reviews of the potential for cycling tourism in Europe. They estimated that 5.6 million Germans took a cycling holiday yearly. It was found that German cyclists make up over a fifth of cycling EU tourists and around a fifth of Germans have taken at least one cycling holiday. Domestically, the German cycling tourism market has sales of more than €9 billion annually. In 2010 just over one million Dutch people went on a cycling holiday with the potential market estimated at 1.7 million. For Dutch tourists, cycling is the third most popular theme holiday after cultural holidays and hiking. Dutch cycling tourists invest a lot of money in their holiday bikes. In 2007, the Dutch spent an average of €1,600 on a holiday bike in 2007 and €2,400 on average in 2010. For the Italian tourism market, adventure holidays (of which cycling is a part) generated €510,000 million of travel retail sales in 2008. In 2009, 2.6% of Italian travellers went on a sport-related holiday. The main motivations for Italians taking cycling holidays include ‘nature’, ‘sports and exercise’, ‘culture’, and a desire to be away from cars and traffic. In 2008, around 970,000 UK holiday makers took part in cycling while on holiday. There is also a large untapped Irish market. In 2007, research found that 28% of Irish adults had used a bicycle in the previous year.

Sources
Cycling tourism in Germany, Centre for the Promotion of Imports from developing countries, Netherlands Ministry of Foreign Affairs, 2011
Cycling tourism in the Netherlands, Centre for the Promotion of Imports from developing countries, Netherlands Ministry of Foreign Affairs, 2011
Cycling tourism in Italy, Centre for the Promotion of Imports from developing countries, Netherlands Ministry of Foreign Affairs, 2011
Cycling tourism in the UK, Centre for the Promotion of Imports from developing countries, Netherlands Ministry of Foreign Affairs, 2011
SLÁN 2007 Survey of Lifestyle, Attitudes AND Nutrition in Ireland Main Report, DEPARTMENT OF HEALTH AND CHILDREN, 2008

Statbank data
Persons on Live Register (Number) by Sex, Age Group, Social Welfare Office and Month
(Both sexes and All ages 2015M07)

Ballinasloe 2,076
Gort 1,197
Loughrea 1,920

Total 5,193

Cycling Campaign makes submission on the Galway City Traffic Management Programme.

Final_GCC_logo_7_06_2010Calls for vision of Galway as a University City with traffic reduced city centre.

Houses may have to go in Knocknacarra

 

The Galway Cycling Campaign has made a submission on on the Galway City Integrated Traffic Management Programme Consultation. The central vision put by the campaign is that Galway should be managed like other well known university cities. Their submission argues that Galway should see itself as the Oxford or Cambridge of Ireland. Likewise car-focused cities such as Los Angeles or Birmingham are poor models for Galway to follow. The cycle campaign argue for a system of traffic cells modelled on cities like Delft and Groningen with cars banned from crossing the city centre. The Salmon Weir bridge, O’Briens bridge and Wolfe Tone bridge would be closed to private cars but remain open to pedestrians, cyclists and public transport. Private traffic crossing the city would need to use the Quincentenial Bridge.

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Image: Google Satellite view showing proposed “traffic cells” created by managing access across three city centre bridges.

 

For the wider city, the submission calls for an approach based on a “Hierarchy of Solutions” taken from official guidance. This would require comprehensive measures to address car speeds on city roads with a focus on enforcement. It is stressed that problematic road features need to be removed or modified. Examples include roundabouts in the city which must be either removed or traffic calmed with raised zebra crossings. Substandard lane widths such as at traffic lights are also highlighted. The cycle campaign calls for remedial measures for newer car-based areas of the city such as Knocknacarra. Here the cul-de-sac based housing model needs to be dismantled. In some cases, it may be necessary to purchase properties and demolish them in order to create a functional roads network. Without this, walking, cycling and public transport are discouraged by excessively long travel distances. In addition, smaller schoolchildren must have traffic-free routes away from main roads if school-run congestion is to be tackled The consultation exercise is part of the controversial Galway bypass process conducted by Galway City and County councils.

knocknacarradetour_with_lables

Image: Google Satellite view showing walking distances to local amenities from two adjacent houses.  Residents in house A in Cartur Mor must walk over 2km.  The same trip for a resident of Cloch Ard is 600-700m.

Link to submission (790kb pdf)

2015_GCC_Submission_Galway_City_Integrated_Traffic_Management_Programme

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