People on bikes are taking their lives into their hands cycling on the Headford Road 

Galway Cycling Campaign is calling for immediate improvements to the Headford Road during the coronavirus pandemic.

The advocates for everyday cycling welcome the Noteworthy in-depth investigation into cycling infrastructure, which was published today. It reveals that the Headford Road is a blackspot for bikes as there were 16 cyclist collisions, including two serious injuries, along a 1km length of this route, from 2005 to 2016.

Martina Callanan, spokesperson for Galway Cycling Campaign, and a resident of the Headford Road area, said, “This is a dangerous route for adults and children on bicycles making their way from home into town to work and school. The bike lane is essentially an extended piece of pavement. It is cut across by access roads to retail parks so you have to come off the path frequently where other traffic is given priority.

She added, “The Headford Road is a congested main route from north Galway into the city and onto the university. Though Galway has the second highest percentage of commuters cycling in a city, you are mainly sharing the roads with other motor vehicle users and there are very few dedicated and segregated cycle tracks”.

Martina Callanan describing the current challenges and hazards of cycling on Headford Rd. [source: Newsworthy.ie]

Galway is a perfect city for bikes due to its size. During the coronavirus more people are taking up cycling as a way of transport and for exercise, and children are learning and enjoying this important life skill. 

However, combining the poor infrastructure with speeding vehicles on mostly empty roads, it is a deeply unpleasant experience for people to cycle on the Headford Road right now. 

Kevin Jennings, chair of Galway Cycling Campaign, proposes two temporary solutions.

Galway City Council should temporarily reduce the four-lane Headford Road to two lanes for vehicle traffic, and reallocate the other two lanes for people on bicycles. This will do three things: give more space and better road conditions to cyclists, double the width of footpaths for pedestrians, and encourage motorists to slow down. The Council can do this for all four-lane roads across the city to make our roads safer and a more pleasant experience for people walking and cycling.

He continued, “Secondly, the Council should temporarily reduce the speed limit to 30 km/h within the city. If a car moving at 50 km/h hits a person walking, there is a 50% chance that person will die. At 30 km/h, that same person has a 95% chance of surviving injuries.

Ms Callanan pointed to recent ambitious plans announced by European cities. She said, “Last week Milan and Brussels announced even lower speed limits of 20 km/h for the summer during coronavirus. They both will reallocate road space to people on foot and on bikes. These two actions will give more space to people trying to social distance and stay well during a deadly pandemic. Galway should take inspiration from these cities and act immediately.