Cycling Campaign welcomes changes to Connemara greenway proposals at oral hearing.

The Galway Cycling Campaign has welcomed changes proposed by Galway County Council to the Oughterard to Clifden Greenway at the An Bord Pleanala oral hearing held in Clifden last week. The cyclists had serious concerns about an initial design that would put a recreational cycle-path directly beside high-speed traffic on the N59 for over 11km. At the hearing, held over two days in the Station House Hotel Clifden, the County Council offered an amended design. The new design would use sections of the old railway line and the old Clifden road to provide an additional 6.35Km away from the N59.

Some of the alternatives brought to the Oral Hearing by Galway Cycling Campaign that where adopted. Routes No 1 and No 4 shown below
OpneStreetMapExtract_with_alternatives

The hearing heard some opposition from local landowners, particularly from the Bunscanniff and Glengowla townlands. Keith Geoghegan of Glengowla mines expressed serious concerns about possible ill effects on his business but offered an alternative route through his property away from the old railway track. Some observers expressed the view that visiting tourists should be charged a fee to cross individual land holdings. Mr. Liam Gavin, Senior County Engineer, expressed a preference for following the old Clifden-Galway Railway embankment to the greatest practical extent. Local hoteliers and business owners spoke in favour of the scheme. Mr. Paul Dunne, a Lecturer in Tourism at GMIT spoke in favour of placing the route away from the N59 and cited research on feedback from users of the Great Western Greenway in Mayo. Some contributors took an opposing position arguing for the incorporation of the route into the N59 or of dropping the scheme altogether in favour of investing in local roads.

Evidence was presented at the hearing pointing out that the incorporation of recreational cycle-routes into roads with high-speed traffic is directly contrary to both the 2007 Failte Ireland Tourism Strategy and guidance from the National Trails Office.

According to the cyclists, the overall proposal to develop a 50km Greenway from Oughterard to Clifden, and costed at EU7million, is welcome. If sensitively carried out, the scheme could create a huge asset for the community of West Connemara. They point out that the Western Greenway in Mayo has generated EU7million per year for the local community – indicating significant unmet demand for a particular cycling experience.

An Bord Pleanala recently rejected a Kerry County Council application to put a tourist cycle route directly beside the N86 on the Dingle Peninsula. The Cycle Campaign is hopeful that the eventual Board decision on the Galway greenway may identify further sections of the route that can be taken off road. Even with the changes proposed, 5.15km will still be right beside the traffic on the N59.

Campaign says rejection of controversial Kerry Cycleway proposals good news for Connemara Greenway.

The Galway Cycling Campaign and Cyclist.ie, Ireland’s National Cycling Lobby Group has welcomed An Bord Pleanala’s rejection of a controversial NRA Cycle path scheme for the N86 in the Dingle peninsula. The road scheme running from Camp to Dingle had attracted particular concern because the designers planned to co-locate a tourist cycling path directly beside high speed traffic for the entire length of the N86 scheme (28km). The rejection of the Kerry proposals echoes concerns raised about the proposed Connemara Greenway which is due to go before an Oral hearing next month in Clifden. The cyclists are hailing the decision as a vindication of the Failte Ireland tourism strategy and National Cycle Policy Framework which is to avoid busy roads.

The Galway Cycling Campaign has lodged an objection to the proposed Connemara Greenway on similar grounds: that the cycle paths are placed directly beside high speed traffic for considerable distances alongside the N59 despite the existence of obvious alternatives. With regard to similar cycle paths in Kerry, the Planning Appeals Board have instructed that they be dropped from the scheme. The grounds given include that the proximity to the carriageway might not offer an attractive recreational route. The Board recommends that alternatives possibly using quieter non-national roads would deliver a more desirable and successful cycleway. The Board have asked the applicants to resubmit a scaled back scheme that seeks to minimise interference with natural features such as hedgerows and tree lines. An Bord Pleanala to hold an oral hearing into the proposed Connemara Greenway on the 11th of December.

The proposal to develop a 50km section of the Connemara Greenway from Oughterard to Clifden is welcome. If sensitively carried out, the scheme could create a huge asset for the community of Connemara. They point out that the Western Greenway in Mayo has generated EU7million per year for the local community – indicating significant unmet demand for a particular cycling experience. However the cyclists say that the current scheme is incorrectly conceived, could fail to achieve its aims and could divert significant resources from more beneficial works. The planning appeals board has been asked to reject the scheme in its current format.

Over the entire 50km, long sections of the proposed scheme conform to the commonly accepted “greenway” concept (i.e. it is routed away from high-speed traffic). However, instead of being maintained as a traffic free greenway for the greatest possible distance, the route is to be incorporated into the existing N59 as a cycle path adjacent to fast moving motor traffic for between 11.7 and 14.6 kilometres or approximately 20% of its length. In the EIS carried out for the scheme, the alternatives to incorporating the cycle route into a high-speed road do not appear to have been given due consideration. Nor does any due consideration appear to have been given on the impacts of such traffic on cyclists – who will theoretically include family groups. Most regrettably, the worst affected section of the route could be considered the most scenic as it passes close to the Maamturks mountain range and the South Bens. It is imperative that an off-road solution be found here so that, rather than being 2meters from vehicles travelling up to 100km, users can fully enjoy and appreciate the spectacular scenery in piece and quiet.

The Cycling Campaign has identified various alternative options that fulfil the greenway model. These include sections where the old Galway to Clifden railway bed is still available and sections of parallel minor roads including the original Galway-Clifden road. The alternatives provide a route away from high-speed traffic where the full benefits of a world class cycling route could be provided. In addition to providing a much more attractive route the alternative proposals avoid the need to CPO lands along the N59 itself.

Cycling Campaign welcomes oral hearing into deeply flawed Clifden greenway proposals.

The Galway Cycling Campaign has welcomed the decision by An Bord Pleanala to hold an oral hearing into the proposed Oughterard to Clifden Greenway – describing the current proposals as “deeply flawed”. Their concerns centre on a design that puts a recreational cycle path directly beside high-speed traffic on the N59 for at least 11km. The Cycling Campaign has identified a series of alternatives that would provide a more attractive route and avoid any need to CPO lands along the N59. They are hoping to hold a public meeting so that affected parties can share their concerns.

According to the cyclists, the proposal to develop a 50km Greenway from Oughterard to Clifden is welcome. If sensitively carried out, the scheme could create a huge asset for the community of West Connemara. They point out that the Western Greenway in Mayo has generated EU7million per year for the local community – indicating significant unmet demand for a particular cycling experience. However the cyclists say that the current scheme is incorrectly conceived, could fail to achieve its aims and could divert significant resources from more beneficial works. The planning appeals board has been asked to reject the scheme in its current format.

Over the entire 50km, long sections of the proposed scheme conform to the commonly accepted “greenway” concept (i.e. it is routed away from high-speed traffic). However, instead of being maintained as a traffic free greenway for the greatest possible distance, the route is to be incorporated into the existing N59 as a cycle path adjacent to fast moving motor traffic for between 11.7 and 14.6 kilometres or approximately 20% of its length. In the EIS carried out for the scheme, the alternatives to incorporating the cycle route into a high-speed road do not appear to have been given due consideration. Nor does any due consideration appear to have been given on the impacts of such traffic on cyclists – who will theoretically include family groups. Most regrettably, the worst affected section of the route could be considered the most scenic as it passes close to the Maamturks mountain range and the South Bens. It is imperative that an off-road solution be found here so that, rather than being distracted by traffic, users can fully enjoy and appreciate the spectacular scenery.

The Cycling Campaign has identified various alternative options that fulfil the greenway model. These include sections where the old Galway to Clifden railway bed is still available and sections of parallel minor roads including the original Galway-Clifden road. The alternatives provide a route away from high-speed traffic where the full benefits of a world class cycling route could be provided. In addition to providing a much more attractive route the alternative proposals avoid the need to CPO lands along the N59 itself.

Open Street map extract showing problematic section an alternatives
Photo of section of old Clifden Galway road that will not be used in
the Greenway

Don’t cycle on the footpath: Obvious, right?

Adults cycling on footpaths is an issue that annoys, threatens, intimidates and upsets a lot of pedestrians. While some cycle in a restrained manner, others cycle on footpaths in wholly obnoxious and selfish manner that destroys public sympathy for cycling and cycling promotion. In the Galway Cycling Campaign we’re fully aware of this and we hold the firm position that the footway is no place for an adult cyclist (we don’t hold a hard view on children cycling on footpaths).

As it happens our national body, Cyclist.ie, favours the consideration of German type traffic laws that allow for children cycling on footpaths.  With adults, much footpath cycling is percieved to be a reaction to hostile road conditions rather than simply wilful lawbreaking. The solution for adults is to acknowledge the problems footpath cycling can create and work to ensure that cyclists have access to a roads network that recognises their needs as roads users.

We’re happy to see the law on footpath cycling enforced by An Garda Síochána as part of a range of enforcement measures needed to create a more people-friendly city.

We advocate our position to fellow cyclists and we raise the issue when talking to engineers and designers of infrastructure. One of our concerns on the Seamus Quirke Road fiasco is that the design of the off-road cycleways puts cyclists into conflict with pedestrians. It is an approach that the city council want to continue in future schemes. We believe that the law informs our position. Here’s the legislative background to this.
1. A bicycle is a vehicle under Irish Road Traffic legislation.

ROAD TRAFFIC ACT, 1961.

Refer to Section 3, Interpretation:
(I’ve re-ordered the definitions from alphabetical)
pedal bicycle” means a bicycle which is intended or adapted for propulsion solely by the physical exertions of a person or persons seated thereon;
pedal cycle” means a vehicle which is a pedal bicycle or pedal tricycle;
driving” includes managing and controlling and, in relation to a bicycle or tricycle, riding, and “driver” and other cognate words shall be construed accordingly;
footway” means that portion of any road which is provided primarily for the use of pedestrians;

These are important definitions, the first three relate to the cyclist and their bicycle and how they are viewed as a driver and a vehicle respectively i.e. the law applies to them in a similar manner to those applying to a motor driver and a motor vehicle except where stated otherwise. The last relates to what we typically refer to as a footpath; a footway.

2. The next important piece of legislation handles driving on a footway

S.I. No. 182/1997 — Road Traffic (Traffic and Parking) Regulations, 1997

Refer to Section 13, Driving on Footway:
13. (1) Subject to sub-articles (2) and (3), a vehicle shall not be driven along or across a footway.
(2) Sub-article (1) does not apply to a vehicle being driven for the purpose of access to or egress from a place adjacent to the footway.
(3) A reference in sub-article (1) to driving along or across a footway, includes s reference to driving wholly or partly along or across a footway.

(N.B. The interpretation section of this S.I. references the 1961 Act)

 

You would think that this position wouldn’t be questioned by anyone other than those adult cyclists who insist on cycling on footways. Unfortunately you’d be wrong: Galway City Council’s officials oppose our position. They hold a stated and repeated position that it’s not accurate to say it’s illegal to cycle on the footpath. Incredible, isn’t it. Bear in mind that this is also the council who brought you the infamous Doughiska Road cycle lane abomination.

This is now a particularly important issue because of the Walking and Cycling Strategy for Galway City and Environs which is under review by Galway City Council officials and elected councillors. To avoid inappropriate cycling infrastructure being designed we want a clear an unequivocal recognition in the strategy document that cycling on the footpath is illegal:

Under Irish law a bicycle is a vehicle, a cyclist is a driver and cyclists are considered to be traffic. Recognising this, the strategy affirms that the default assumption will be to provide for cyclists on the same carriageway surface as other vehicles.  The council will work to ensure that cyclists have on-road solutions on all roads in the city. Equally the legal status of cycles means that it is illegal to cycle on footways.

Galway City Council’s officials don’t want this. They can defend their own position on this but they argue accepting this point may prevent future infrastructure schemes like the Dangan Greenway that are shared use for pedestrians and cyclists. It doesn’t, other local authorities have shown themselves capable of dealing with this issue and creating facilities like the proposed greenways. What it does stop is poorly conceived off-road cycle facilities that put cyclists and pedestrians in conflict and cyclists at risk. At a meeting with city council officials and the transport sub-commitee (which has Galway Cycling Campaign representation) the illegality of cycling on the footpath became a sticking point and a decision was made that councillors would vote on the issue. The vote was in favour of the position that cycling on the footpath is illegal. The strategy is up for review again by councillors and when sending it to them for review, Galway City Council officials included the following in the covering letter: Ciaran Hayes letter to councillors 20120704

This letter uses a bullying tactic which is now favoured by Galway City Council officals when dealing with stubborn councillors; if you don’t vote for this we’ll lose the funding. This tactic has been used frequently to push through poorly conceived infrastructure schemes. It’s an affront to the democractic structures of local government and is an obscene use of our taxes. Schemes which are a waste of money and serve no road user (motorist, cyclist or pedestrian) get built simply to serve the egoes and CV building exercises of city council officials.

The Road Traffic Acts are clear; it’s illegal to cycle on the footpath. We want that recognised by councillors in the face of bullying by city officials.

Smarter Travel Fund scrappage a victory for common sense say cyclists

The Galway Cycling Campaign has warmly welcomed the announcement that the Government is to scrap
the controversial “Smarter Travel Areas Fund” and the associated competition. The Cycle Campaign, who
represent transportation cyclists in Galway City and County have hailed the decision, as announced by
Derek Nolan TD (Labour) this week, as a “victory for common sense”. Since the €50 million fund had been
announced in 2009, there had been serious concern among the cycling community nationally that it was
poorly conceived and potentially a highly questionable use of public money.
The Galway Cycling Campaign had been making repeated efforts to raise their concerns with the new
Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sports Mr. Leo Varadkar TD. The Cycling Campaign say that what is
needed to improve cycling conditions is an initial focus on targeted low-cost interventions designed to solve
real problems for cyclists and pedestrians. A focus on Celtic-tiger style “flagship” schemes as typified by
the Galway City and Environs bid is exactly the wrong approach. According to campaign chair Mr. Shane
Foran: “The department’s conduct of the Areas Fund Competition has highlighted systemic weaknesses
at national level. There is cause for particular concern that the “Smarter Travel Unit” does not have the
necessary understanding of the field to exercise proper oversight over the schemes and projects that it funds.
An independent review of the unit may now be necessary”
Initial concerns about the competition were confirmed when the details of the Galway bid, for a €20 million
portion of the funding, were revealed. According to the Cycling Campaign, within the their bid and the
associated draft strategy document, the council executive failed to address or tackle serious infrastructural
defects that are identified in Government policy as requiring remedial action. In the Galway bid, several
fundamental infrastructural issues were neglected to the point that it seemed that Galway City and County
Councils were actively trying to avoid national policy. Explained Campaign PRO Oisín Ó Nidh: “The original
bid included a welcome proposal for 30kph zones. It then turned out that the officials were planning to achieve
this by using road narrowings and pinch points that force cyclists into close proximity with moving cars. These
are specifically rejected by state policy as inappropriate and creating hostile conditions for cyclists. The
unacceptable side effect is to force less confident cyclists onto footpaths”
Instead the Galway bid has a focus on recreational routes following the coast and the River Corrib to the
demonstrable neglect of cycling conditions on key commuter routes into the city. Some of the proposals
such as those for the Tuam Road, Monivea Rd, the Coast road from Oranmore and the Western Distributor
Rd could in fact result in conditions for cyclists deteriorating due to the published proposals showing clearly
inappropriate road layouts.

Galway City Bikeshare welcome but new design guidance needed

The Galway Cycling Campaign is warmly welcoming the Governments interest in extending Dublin Bike type bike share schemes to Galway and other cities. But the cyclists caution that a hard-nosed and holistic approach is needed to maximise the benefits. The Dublin Bike scheme has been a resounding success with 2.5 million journeys taken as of September 2011. According to the cyclists, the regional schemes must be either integrated with, or compatible with, the Dublin scheme. “It has to operate as ‘national’ membership” said Oisin O’Nidh, campaign PRO “a Dublin bike user should be able to get off the train and use a Galway bike and vice versa – membership of one bikeshare scheme should entitle the user to use all schemes”.
The cyclists also stress that new design guidance will be needed to deliver the necessary infrastructural changes recommended by the consultants: Jacobs engineering of Dublin. To support the proposed schemes, the consultants have recommended access improvements for cyclists raising issues such as access to pedestrian areas and two-way cycling on one-way streets. According to the cyclists, latest Irish design guidance produced by the National Transport Authority (NTA) appears to neglect the issue of cyclist access to pedestrian zones and vehicle-restricted areas. In contrast they point out as long ago as 1983 it was established in German practice that forbidding cycling in pedestrian areas should be avoided, and measures were then identified to reduce potential conflicts. In the UK, it has long been stressed that there is a need to ensure that pedestrianisation schemes do not result in cyclists being forced to use unsuitable alternative routes, and official guidance has been available since 1986.
A similar problem applies with two-way cycling on one-way streets. The latest NTA guidance only appears to consider the matter in terms of segregated cycle facilities. “In a constricted mediaeval city, we cannot be limited to segregated cycle facilities as the only solution” pointed out Mr. O’Nidh “we don’t have the space”. The cyclists point out that best practice in other countries uses a range of solutions including so called “false one-way streets” using bicycle-only gateways. Another approach is to simply make such streets two-way for cyclists. The cyclists use the example of Belgium where in 2004 the then Minister simply imposed two-way use on all one-way streets where the available road width and traffic speeds matched defined conditions. Campaign chair Shane Foran continued “This is a bigger issue than bikeshare, in Ireland we also need guidance on suitable road widths in towns, advice on making traffic calming cyclist-friendly and safer layouts at traffic signals. These are all matters that are not well treated in current NTA guidance. Adopting outside design guidance in support of bikeshare will provide other vital tools to promote cycling.”

Examples of alternative guidance
* Local Transport Note 2/86 “Shared use by Cyclists and Pedestrians” UK DOT
* Local Transport Note 1/89 “Making Way for Cyclists” UK DOT
* Trevallian P., Morgan J. 1993 “Cycling in Pedestrian Areas” Transport Research Laboratory Report 15, Crowethorne
* Cycling England Design Checklist
* Cycle-Friendly Infrastructure: Guidelines for Planning and Design: Institution of Highways and Transportation, Cyclists Touring Club, 1996
* Lancashire the Cyclists County

Cyclists propose roundabout as a way around impasse over Morris Junction changes

The Galway Cycling Campaign is proposing a roundabout on the R339 (Old Monivea Rd) at Ballybane as a way of dealing with local concerns over access. The concerns have arisen as a result of proposals to replace the Morris Roundabout on the N6 with so-called intelligent traffic lights. The new junction layouts will result in banned turns that make it difficult for traffic on the old Monivea Rd to access the Ballybane Rd. The cycle campaign shares these concerns. “The old Monivea Rd is a natural cycling route in and out of the city,” said Campaign PRO Oisín Ó Nidh. When making their submission on the scheme, the cyclists say they “actively considered” recommending a roundabout at this location but left it out in the end due to concerns about rat running. Now that the views of the local community are clear, they say the roundabout is back on the table.
“We should be very clear that we are not talking about a typical Irish roundabout that favours movement by car over people who wish to walk or cycle,” continued Mr. Ó Nidh. Instead the cyclists say what is needed is a “continental” type roundabout as used in the Netherlands that is designed to encourage slower traffic speeds, takes account of the presence of cyclists in the traffic stream and allows pedestrians to cross the road. These roundabouts can also have raised pedestrian crossings or zebra crossings to further improve safety. Zebra crossings are already in use on roundabouts in Portlaoise and Limerick, and the cycle campaign says it would be great to see Galway get on board with modern thinking on traffic management.
In their proposal on the Morris and Font schemes, the cyclists recommended the removal of some cycle lanes and the widening of others, especially where cyclists are directed between lanes of traffic. “If cyclists are travelling between two streams of cars, they need more space — up to 3m,” said Mr. O’Nidh. The cyclists have also questioned the absence of bike boxes at the traffic lights, as found at Moneennageesha, raising concerns of a lack of inter-visibility with HGV drivers. For similar reasons of safety, they have also called for stop lines to be amended so that crossing pedestrians are clearly visible to waiting HGV drivers.

Bike week: Treasure Hunt a winner with the kids again in 2010!

A happy explorer

A happy explorer

The 2nd Annual Family Cycling Treasure Hunt survived some initial summer showers to come out a clear winner with the kids yet again in 2010. An afternoon of cycling fun, training, exploration and adventure was had by over thirty families.

Starting from the Arts Millennium building in NUI, Galway and taking in some of Galway city’s most scenic routes, the treasure hunt used the university campus for traffic-free fun.

Bikes had their NCT with Mike the bike doctor before setting off on the “Explorer” course, designed for smaller children and their adult supervisors. The “explorers” travelled through the university ground, along the River Corrib, and back to the main campus via Corrib Village. Educational questions, relating to cycling benefits and safety, were mixed with fun challenges, such as a slow bike race and cycle slalom. There was also cycling skills education with a qualified UK National Standard Cycling instructor.

Enjoying the slow bike race at the Galway Cycling Treasure Hunt 2010

Enjoying the slow bike race at the Galway Cycling Treasure Hunt 2010

Older children finished with the longer “Adventurer” course; it incorporated the Explorer course and extended along Galway’s canal system, involving some on-road sections of Mill Street and New Street. Volunteers were present along the routes to offer help, stickers, friendly smiles and chats. After completing the courses, cyclists were treated to refreshments — fruit, chocolate, drinks, and a variety of delicious homemade muffins — until the prize draw took place at 4 pm. There were three prizes of vouchers for Nigel’s Cycles on the Tuam Road, and all the children got bells for their bicycles, courtesy of Richard Walsh Cycles on the Headford Road.

The winners of the vouchers were

Albert Hardiman
Cloe Benson
Conor Moran

The Galway Cycling Campaign would like to thank NUI, Galway for hosting the event, the Department of Transport for funding, Galway City Council for their assistance, and the many volunteers who helped make the 2010 Family Cycling Treasure Hunt such a success. The Campaign is very grateful to the Red Cross, who were on hand throughout the day, and to Critical Mass Galway, who provided enthusiastic volunteers. Most of all, we want to thank the cyclists of all ages who took part. We hope they enjoyed the event as much as we did, and we hope to see them again next year!

Galway Cycling Treasure Hunt 2010 Crew

Galway Cycling Treasure Hunt 2010 Crew

A Touch of Green Amid the Asphalt

Last Sunday 11 April, to celebrate World Health Day 2010 and Galway City Council’s decision to close Cross St. and Middle St. to motorised traffic for the afternoon, the Galway Cycling Campaign converted a small section of the road — the size of a single car — into a miniature public park for the people of Galway. It was the second time we created this mini-park in the city.

By temporarily constructing Galway’s newest park, our aim is to creatively explore how urban public space is allocated and used. Inexpensive kerb-side parking results in more motor traffic and less space in our city centre. This in turn hinders the movement of pedestrians, cyclists, and motor vehicles; it adds to the level of CO2 emissions; and it obstructs the creation of a healthy, vibrant human habitat for Galway. We are re-imagining the possibilities of the city landscape.

Our re-interpretation of road space demonstrates that even temporary spatial redesign can improve the character of Galway City. We were also lucky to have a beautiful sunny afternoon. Many curious passers-by stopped to chat, to sample our delicious bicycle biscuits, to sign up to our mailing lists, to read our educational signs and our new Cycling Skills leaflets, and simply to watch the world go by from an unexpected green patch on the road.

We would like to thank Galway City Council for closing Cross St. and Middle St. to traffic for the afternoon, and we’re especially grateful to everyone who stopped and said hello. We’re already looking forward to the next outing of our mini public park!

Survey on Walking/Cycling Infrastructure

Vulnerable road users at the Headford Rd. (Tesco) roundabout

Vulnerable road users at the Headford Rd. (Tesco) roundabout

The Galway City Community Forum has compiled an excellent survey on cycling and walking in Galway. Pleas fill in the survey here.

If you use a single user pc then use this link
If you use a shared pc then use this link

Members of the Galway City Community orum‘s transport group who met last week feel that this survey is much more relevant to the needs and concerns of pedestrians and cyclists than the survey recently promoted by the council’s consultants, and that it is more in line with the Forum’s transport policies.

However, we need to ensure that the survey is completed by a substantial number of local residents to ensure its authenticity before we submit and publicise the results. The results could put considerable pressure on the council to put proper cyclist/pedestrian infrastructure in place, especially if government funds are secured under the Smarter Travel initiative.

Because of the survey’s level of detail, a street-based campaign alone may not succeed: it is not something (as with a petition) that can be completed in 30 seconds from a stall on Shop Street on a Saturday afternoon. So we would be very grateful if you could set aside a few minutes to complete it and pass it on to friends and colleagues.