In the latest twist in the ongoing controversy over the consultants (AECOM) assigned to Galway City and Environs Walking and Cycling Strategy, the Council’s Director of Services Ciaran Hayes has argued that they do not have to have passed an approved cycling skills course. Last November, the Galway Cycling Campaign wrote to Mr Hayes to establish that the consultants had taken an approved cycling skills course, or had formal training that would allow them to assess roads used by cyclists. Objective 18.3 of the Irish Government’s National Cycle Policy Framework (NCPF) states: “We will also stipulate that all local authority roads engineers and any engineer wishing to tender for government road contracts should be required to have taken an approved cycling skills course”. Cyclist.ie, the national cycling lobby group, also state that completing an approved cycling skills course is a standard requirement for all consultants undertaking such work. Mr Hayes has responded that his interpretation of national cycling policy is that the undertaking of such training will not be mandatory for road design work. He has also argued that the consultants on the Walking and Cycling Strategy are not engaged in design work, and that there is no approved training course in place.
The Cycling Campaigners dispute Mr. Hayes’s interpretation on various grounds. Galway Cycling Campaign chair Shane Foran said, “The first thing this line of argument suggests is that the council have managed to employ cycling consultants who have never been independently assessed on their understanding of cycling in traffic. Why would they argue that the cycle skills training isn’t needed unless their consultants haven’t done it?” Although they reject Mr. Hayes’s line of reasoning, the cyclists point out that his own interpretation is undermined by the consultants’ brief which his office issued for the work. The brief states that the consultants must proof their work with regard to the NCPF: “If they are working to the policy document as part of their brief, this suggests that to fulfill their brief the consultants must have done the training,” continued Mr. Foran.
On the claim by Mr. Hayes that the strategy does not include design work, the cyclists point out that the consultants’ brief includes “retrofitting and making modifications to the existing travel routes, footpath and cycletrack linkages in all developments, integration with public transport, integration with public amenities and recreational facilities, and accessibility for people with disabilities”. “As far as we are concerned these are all design activities,” said Mr. Foran.
Finally, the cyclists reject Mr. Hayes’s argument that there is no “approved” cycling skills course. In fact, there is only one accredited cycling skills course available: the UK National Standard for Cycle Training, which is overseen by an official Cycle Training Standards Board and whose instructors must be inspected to obtain accreditation. The Irish Green Schools Travel staff, who work with 400 schools, have been trained as UK National Standard instructors. The Galway Cycling Campaign hold that this provides a reference cycling skills course against which the AECOM staff can be evaluated. “AECOM are based out of a main office in London,” the campaign PRO spokesperson Oisín Ó Nidh pointed out, “they are within a short distance of several accredited training providers who could do the course with them for around a few hundred pounds. You would think they would just go and do the course.”
Irish National Cycle Policy Framework
“NCPF 18.3 Training of Professionals
We will organise training workshops / sessions for all design professionals in understanding and using the new guidance produced.
We will also stipulate that all local authority roads engineers and any engineer wishing to tender for government road contracts should be required to have taken an approved cycling skills course, together with a course on cycling friendly infrastructure design.”
The Galway Cycling Campaign have written to City Council Director of Services, Ciaran Hayes, seeking clarification on the qualifications of the consultants assigned to Galway City and Environs Walking and Cycling Strategy (AECOM). The Campaigners say that they have been unable to establish that the consultants have taken an approved cycling skills course or have formal training that would allow them to assess roads used by cyclists.
The Irish Government’s National Cycle Policy Framework states: “We will also stipulate that that all local authority roads engineers and any engineer wishing to tender for government road contracts should be required to have taken an approved cycling skills course”. The stated policy of the National Cycling Lobby Group, Cyclist.ie also specifies that the completion of an approved cycling skills course is a standard requirement for all consultants undertaking such work.
The Cycling Campaign have requested documentary evidence showing that the consultants (AECOM) have taken such a course.
Shane Foran speaking for the campaign added “In the UK and Ireland , the only accredited cycling skills course dealing with the full range of on-road traffic skills is the UK National Standard for Cycle Training. The Green Schools Travel staff currently working with 400 schools, including schools in Galway, have been trained as UK National Standard instructors” The Cycle Campaign states that current best practice for drafting viable cycling strategies requires consultants who are able to audit the existing roads, and any proposed new designs, with reference to “design cyclists” who come under the different ability levels defined under the National Standard curriculum. The cyclists say that it is totally unacceptable that the City Council should apparently be seeking to develop a cycling strategy in isolation from the advice that child and adult cyclists are being given with regard to using the roads.
The cyclists say the issue of consultants being able to show that they have necessary training is non-negotiable issue, because having untrained and unassessed consultants advising on cycling measures is viewed as equivalent to employing general traffic engineers who don’t possess driving licences or any independent verification of driving competence.
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.
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.
Parking Day Justyna and Catherine
On Saturday the 31st of October, a city centre car parking space was temporarily reclaimed for the people of Galway. What used to be a car parking space was transformed into a mini public park to celebrate Galway’s first ever Park(ing) Day.
The aim of Park(ing) Day is to convert a single metered parking space into a temporary public park in an area of Galway City that is underserved by public open space. The objective is to creatively explore how our urban public space is allocated and used. Inexpensive kerb-side parking results in increased traffic & less space in the city centre. This hinders the movement of pedestrians, cyclists and motor vehicles, adds to the level of CO2 emissions and prevents the creation of a healthy, vibrant urban human habitat. Park(ing) Day is about re-imagining the possibilities of the metropolitan landscape.
Galway’s newest green space was offered (and used) as a space to sit down to have a chat with friends, read the newspaper or simply to watch the world go by. The Galway Cycling Campaign also provided muffins and Justyna’s famous “bicycle shaped” cookies!
The parking meter was always running and contributions were taken from passers by to feed the meter and make sure the new “Park” was paying its way!
A study by the UK-based Institute of Advanced Motorists indicates that 45% of motorists cycle occasionally or regularly, and suggests that there is great potential for more motorists to begin cycling or to cycle more than they already do. A spokesperson for the IAM said: “Millions of motorists are already taking to the roads on two wheels. The IAM study identifies the huge potential for getting them to cycle more, and for getting motorists who know how to ride to take up cycling again.”
A summary of the findings is online here, and the study “Cycling Motorists” is available here (PDF, 2.35 MB; to download: right-click, “Save Link As…” or “Save Target As…”).