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.

Seamus Quirke Road – Cyclists issue safety warning over cycle paths

The Galway Cycling Campaign is issuing a safety warning for users of the Seamus Quirke road where traffic was recently switched over from the existing road to a newly constructed section. The new section of road includes intermittent footpath structures on one side that are eventually intended to become cycle paths. The Cycling Campaign are concerned that some cyclists are using these to cycle on the wrong side of the road against the normal flow of traffic. They point out that using cycle facilities in this manner is associated with up to 12 fold increases in the risk of collision with cars at the side roads. Side roads and junctions already account for 75% of car/bicycle crashes. Researchers in Finland, Germany, the US and Sweden have all identified the issue.

The issue is that, when turning at side-roads motorists are not accustomed to looking for cyclists coming from the wrong side at speed. Calling for vigilance from city motorists campaign PRO Oisín Ó Nidh stated “we have to remember that Ireland is a country where there is little history of cycle training or of educating cyclists in the safe use of roads, also the same goes for motorists – as a result many Irish cyclist’s have no idea of the limitations of these cycle facilities and are putting themselves in danger in the incorrect belief that they are actually safer. This is also the case for cyclists using the cycle path going with the flow of traffic. They also have an increased risks of collisions compared with being on the road” Addressing cyclists using the road he added “it may feel more vulnerable to stay in the main traffic lane but the evidence suggests you may be safer on the road where drivers are looking rather than on the cycle paths.”

The Cycling Campaign have previously expressed serious concerns about the current design for the Seamus Quirke road and view it as unworkable from the perspective of cycling as a form of transport and a highly questionable use of public money. In their analysis, when the road is finished, many cyclists will find it safer and more convenient to stay in the bus lanes and ignore the cycle facilities. PRO Mr Ó Nidh states “if cyclists ignore the cycle facilities it will also make the paths safer for pedestrians. The cycle path chicanes at the Bus Stops will lead to the increased risk of collisions between pedestrians and cyclists”

Sources:

Sweden: Leif Linderholm: Signalreglerade korsningars funktion och olycksrisk för oskyddade trafikanter ─ Delrapport 1: Cyklister. Institutionen för trafikteknik, LTH: Bulletin 55, Lund 1984, In: »Russian Roulette« turns spotlight of criticism on cycleways, Proceedings of conference »Sicherheit rund ums Radfahren«, Vienna 1991.
USA: A. Wachtel and D. Lewiston: Risk factors for bicycle-motor vehicle collisions at intersections, Journal of the Institute of Transportation Engineers, pp 30-35, September, 1994.
Denmark: S.U. Jensen, K.V. Andersen and E.D. Nielsen: Junctions and Cyclists, Velo-city ‘97 Barcelona, Spain .
Finland: M Rasanen and H. Summala: The safety effect of sight obstacles and road markings at bicycle crossings, Traffic Engineering and Control, pp 98-101, February, 1998

Family Treasure Hunt

Family Treasure Hunt

Family Cycling Treasure Hunt

The annual Family Cycling Treasure Hunt is a chance for children and adults to explore Galway by bike and learn more about cycling safety, skills and culture.

Date & Time: Sunday 26th of June, 2011 from 2:00pm to 6:00pm

Venue: Starting at Renmore AFC Clubhouse

Family Treasure Hunt 2010

Event details::

On Sunday the 26th of June 2011 the annual Galway Cycling Campaign Bicycle Treasure Hunt closes this years bike week in Galway. A family oriented event with a focus on junior cyclists, it will start from the Soccer Club on Renmore Avenue. Participants can arrive by car if they choose, and stay within a relatively traffic-free environment following quiet residential roads for a couple of hours of two-wheeled fun. (Helmets optional – entry is free!)

The Treasure hunters will need to collect cycling related facts from volunteers and from information provided on temporary signs. The cycle campaign would provide the personnel to guide the participants in answering questions at various points and provide the facts about the potential for cycling in Galway.

• How long to cycle to Eyre Square from XXXXX?
• How many people live within a 25-minute cycle of school or work?
• Whats your favourite kind of bike?

There will also be cycling skills lessons and “tests”, e.g. “Show me how to give a hand signal”; “Show me how to use your brakes”. Registration runs from 2-3pm and families can take the course in their own time. Everyone gathers back at the soccer club for bike maintenance checks, refreshments and a prize draw at five pm.

Cycling Short Films

Cycling Short Films

Book now!

Enjoy a free night of short films about, featuring and inspired by bicycles, at the Eye Cinema in Galway. Find out more about the event and register for admittance on http://bikemovie.eventbrite.com

About the event

A celebration of bicycles through films.

A bike-inspired cinema night is one of the novelties planned to add a fresh spark to this summer’s National Bike Week festival.

The series of eight short films explores the depiction of bicycles on film and the work of Irish and international filmmakers interested in this topic.

Highlights of the evening’s celluloid celebration include excerpts from Belfast native Andy Yoong’s new film Break the Cycle, starring Maeve Baxter along with Daniel and Gerard Wolfe, whose exploits on bikes are truly inspirational. Set against the stunning backdrop of the Mourne mountains and Dublin mountain biking trails, this film features the best Irish downhill riders  who narrate their passion for the sport and how important this activity is to ‘break the cycle’ of everyday life.

The evening will also see Niamh Kennedy’s directorial outing documenting the exploits of Dublin cycle couriers – a unique subculture of the Dublin cycling scene. Film buffs will be on the edge of their seats for the Irish cinema premiere of Danny MacAskill’s exploits across the Scottish highlands, and the works of international filmmakers including Coline Maldec on Parisian bike culture, and Canadian Mike McKinley’s examination of BMXers in Vancouver locating urban spots to ride.

Chris Tierney, one of the event organisers, says, “It has been a privilege to work with inspiring filmmakers and collaborators throughout, and we hope you enjoy the resulting programme that is on offer this year, which we are sure will be a spectacular movie night to remember.”

The evening will be of interest to cyclists and non-cyclists alike.

The Galway Bike Festival movie night is being held in the Eye Cinema, and is organised by the Galway Cycling Campaign and supported by the Galway City Council and the Eye Cinema.

The festival, which runs from 18–26 June, will also feature public events with live music, and live cycling performances in Eyre Square.

 

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Galway Bike Fest Announced (18th -26th of June)!

The complete calendar of events for Galway Bike Festival has just been released. The festival runs from the 18th to the 26th of June, and this year promises to be a spectacular event, with a huge launch in Eyre Square on the 18th of June, with music, fun games and lots and lots of bicycles. The national bike week event launch is being celebrated in Galway- the first time any city outside of Dublin has hosted this opening event.

The Galway Bike Fest calendar outlines a full programme of activities to celebrate bicycles for all ages and interests, taking place all over the city during the week.

Feel free to check out the full calendar of events in English or Irish, and the Facebook and Twitter details relating to the week’s activities.

We also have a handy draft Google calendar of events on our site- this is still being updated.

The Galway Cycling Campaign will be running two events during the festival. These include the hugely popular annual family treasure hunt, and also a movie night of bicycle inspired films:

Family Cycling Treasure Hunt
The annual Family Cycling Treasure Hunt is a chance for children and adults to explore Galway by bike and learn more about cycling safety, skills and culture.

Date & Time: Sunday 26th of June, 2011 from 2:00pm to 6:00pm

Venue: Starting at Renmore AFC Clubhouse

Find out more…

Cycling Short Films Cycling Film Shorts
Enjoy a night of short films about, featuring and inspired by bicycles.

Date & Time: Monday 20th of June from 7:00 to 9:00pm

Venue: Eye Cinema, Galway

Book online