Athenry to Tuam is shovel ready and should progress without further delay.
The Galway Cycling Campaign is welcoming the news that a delegation from Waterford is to meet Galway County Council to get the benefit of their experience with the recently opened “Deise Greenway” in Waterford. The Waterford greenway opened in March, is 45km long, and has been hailed as Ireland’s new “premier” greenway. The Waterford greenway was created by the conversion of a section of the now closed Dungarvan to Waterford Railway. Like the now closed railway line between Athenry, Tuam, Claremorris and Sligo the Dongarvan Railway remained in public ownership. Over recent years Waterford Council spent a mere €15m to upgrade it to serve as a walking and cycling route – a fraction of the cost of creating such a feature from scratch. A similar scheme following the disused railway between Mullingar and Athlone was also extended recently and one section is reported to have had 1,500 users in one day.
Galway County Council’s attempts to impose greenways on private landowners along the Clifden-Galway-Dublin corridor have been a disaster for the brand of cycling and cycling tourism in Galway. Unlike Waterford or Athenry-Tuam there is no longer any equivalent disused railway available in Connemara or East Galway. When the old Connemara railway line closed in 1935 the line was either sold to landowners or incorporated into what is now the N59. It no longer exists as a coherent corridor. It will take some time to resolve the issues created by the flawed conduct of the Clfden-Galway-Athlone project. Minister Shane Ross recently promised a review of the processes used in that project.
In contrast the Athenry to Tuam line remains in public ownership and there is strong community support in Tuam for the conversion of the line to a Greenway. In effect the Athenry-Tuam project is “shovel ready” and would allow Galway to get on board with creating a long distance cycling product. With this greenway extended to Sligo via Swinford it would be possible to create a branch linking with Knock airport. While a branch to the west could eventually link up with the Great Western Greenway from Westport to Achill.
Greenway experts to outline benefits of proposed Galway greenway
Over 1,500 used Athlone greenway extension on one day
Thursday, 13th April, 2017 2:01pm
Story by Adrian Cusack
Green Light: Ireland’s longest greenway opens in Waterford
March 25 2017 12:00 AM
We move on to review the design options being considered in the latest consultation on replacing the Headford Road (Kirwan) Roundabout with traffic lights. (Please see preceding article for a submission template). This discussion is based on the latest consultation document. The document sets out 6 design options for consideration. However three of the options involve building new slip roads (Options labelled 2a, 2b 2d). This means they can be dismissed out of hand as unsuitable for an urban area.
This leaves three options that merit further consideration.
- Kirwan Roundabout replaced with a 5 arm signalised junction.
- Kirwan Roundabout will be replaced with a 4-arm signalised junction.
- Coolagh Road will no longer be accessed from the Kirwan junction.
- Coolagh Road will be diverted southwards through the ‘Circus Field’ to form a 4-arm signalised junction with the N6 Headford Road and Dunnes Stores Entrance.
- Dunnes Stores Entrance will be moved northwards to facilitate a 4-arm signalised junction.
- Kirwan Roundabout will be replaced with a 4-arm signalised junction. Coolagh Road will no longer be accessed from the Kirwan junction.
- Coolagh Road will be diverted northwards to the front of the Menlo Park Hotel to form a 3-‐arm signalised junction on the N84 Headford Road.
- A left slip lane allowing traffic to access Coolagh Road from the N6 Headford Road is being considered as part of this option.
Discussion: Option 1 (5 arm traffic signals)
Screen grab of Option 1 from the consultation document
One of the complications of Option 1 is that it is a five-arm junction. This is difficult to achieve and is technically challenging. If a way could be found to remove one arm then this would simplify the junction design. The Sandy Road arm is an obvious candidate since the alignment is difficult relative to the other arms.
The question is how to maintain access from the West to Liosbán. There are already three pockets of state or semi-state land that provide a potential route corridor.
1. The City Council Yard at Liosbán (Yellow boundary below)
2. The County Council Yard at Liosbán (Orange boundary below)
3. The ESB land between Sean Mulvoy Road and Sandy Road (Green boundary below)
Google maps extract showing state/semi-state properties at Liosbán and Sean Mulvoy Rd
These lands provide two potential corridors linking Liosbán to the Sean Mulvoy Road. If this corridor was developed it would also allow traffic from other properties on Sandy Road to avoid Cemetery Cross. It is likely that this route would attract rat running by other traffic trying to avoid Cemetery Cross via Liosbán. This reinforces the identified need to close Liosbán to through-traffic and maintain the internal roads as a resource for people with business in the estate.
Google maps extract showing alternative access corridors using state/semi-state properties at Liosbán and Sean Mulvoy Rd
Discussion: Options 3A and 3B (Coolagh Road diversion)
Options 3A and 3B involve diverting the Coolagh Road to other locations. One north of the current junction and one south. One point of concern is the designers also appear to be threatening to use another slip road with option 3B which would defeat the underlying purpose of removing the roundabout.
Screen grab of Option 3A from the current consultation document.
Screen grab of Option 3B from the current consultation document.
It is likely that neither of these options – by itself – will be satisfactory for stakeholders on the Coolagh road side of the junction. There was prominent opposition from this area to the last set of proposals. In our analysis a solution is to combine both options. It might be these could be linked to Coolagh road using a roundabout based on Dutch (not British) designs. These are designed to slow motor traffic and maintain access for cyclists and pedestrians. This could also link with Dun na Coiribe to provide a four-way junction serving both Dun na Coiribe and the Dunnes retail park. This option might still attract rat-running via Menlo and the Dyke Road. Again the obvious solution is to block the Dyke Road to through traffic and actively engineer the roads in Menlo village to discourage through-traffic.
Google maps extract showing our proposal for a combined Option 3A and 3B.
In January the city council announced a consultation on proposals to replace the Headford Road (Kirwan) Roundabout with traffic lights. The consultation which closes on February 10th is not the first attempt to reach a consensus on the future design of this junction. We will follow up with a discussion of possible designs in another article.
The Kirwan Roundabout is probably most charitably described as “nasty”. It is high-speed roundabout of backward design inspired by previous British practice. These roundabouts are essentially a series of slip-roads chained closely together. As with slip-roads, this type of roundabout creates extremely hostile conditions for vulnerable road users such motorcyclists, cyclists and pedestrians. The construction of the Kirwan Roundabout created a shameful situation with elderly people living in Tirellan having to call taxis to get across the road to do their shopping in Dunnes. At the time that these roundabouts started appearing in Galway nearly 40% of households did not have a car. Roundabouts of this design were established to be dangerous places for two-wheelers back in the 1980s.
Google screen grab of Headford Road Roundabout
A 1987 report on the safety performance of roundabouts on the Swords bypass noted that the crash rate among two-wheelers was 5 times what might normally have been expected on that type of road. At that time serious reservation was expressed about the use of such roundabouts where high numbers of two-wheelers were expected. From the perspective of vulnerable road-users, that thirty years later roundabouts like this are still found a small, university-city does not reflect well on those who have managed Galway since 1987. Unfortunately experience of previous junction replacements has not inspired confidence in the ability of the council to make correct decisions. However hopefully lessons can be learned and applied here. Whatever the final configuration, following some essential principles should ensure an improved level of service and experience for cyclists and pedestrians.
- There should be no slip lanes or merges on any arms of the junction. The use of slip roads at locations used by vulnerable road users is wholly unacceptable.
- Any cycle facilities provided should be of minimum width 2m.
- There should be no cycle facilities that trap cyclists inside turning traffic.
- Waiting areas should provide good inter-visibility in particular with drivers of HGVs.
- Bypasses for left turning cyclists should be provided on all arms.
- If left turn lanes are provided they should be of limited length.
- On arms with no cycle facilities there should be a minimum lane width of 3.65m/4.25m to allow filtering by cyclists in stationary traffic and overtaking by motorists in moving traffic.
- The signals should be timer based with minimum wait times at off peak hours and with all arms getting a green in every rotation of the light sequence.
- The arrangement of pedestrian crossings at the junction should comply with the Design Manual for Urban Roads and Streets.Low resolution version (5Mb)
- On arms where vehicles have a red signal there should be an automatic green for pedestrians.
- There should be no guardrailing or other similar injury hazards such as poorly located poles.
Likely effect on cycling on the outer Headford Road corridor.
This scheme will only partially solve issues for cyclists on the Headford Road corridor. The presence of a series of hostile concrete traffic-islands and painted ghost-islands endangers cyclists and pedestrians and has sterilised the road as a place where people might feel welcome cycling. In effect, unprotected human beings are being used as a form of mobile “traffic-calming” within streams of moving motor vehicles. The removal of this chain of traffic islands should be included along with the scheme at the junction.
Google screen grab showing hostile and inappropriate road layout on the outer Headford Road
Observation on the consultation document.
Finally people reading the consultation document will find this controversial claim “Queueing and congestion during peak times This causes “rat-running” through residential and commercial areas”. This claim is unsupportable in our view. The main cause of the rat-running is that the city council has chosen to encourage rat-running. Examples include widening roads in Menlo and permitting through-traffic to use routes like the Liosban Estate and the Dyke road. Much of the rat-running could be eliminated be closing the Dyke road to through-traffic, closing Liosban to through-traffic and making it difficult to use Menlo as a though route. The requirement for measures to stop rat-running through local roads stands independently of any changes to the Headford Road Roundabout.
The city council notice includes contact details for making submissions.
Galway Cycling Solutions were quietly happy with the response received from Transport Minister Shane Ross TD at a meeting held in the Dail on Thursday 19th January. A delegation met the minister to raise community concerns regarding the handling of the western section of the proposed Dublin to Clifden Greenway. The group represent both cycling interests and affected landowners from the proposed route.
Galway Cycling Solutions is in favour of a cycling project and discussed the well-established Eurovelo guidelines that have seen the creation of 70,000km of international cycling routes in mainland Europe. The Eurovelo approach does not rely on compulsory purchase of private farmland but uses a menu of options including farm tracks and country lanes with low traffic volumes. The group used an example of the existing Golden Mile initiative in Galway where local communities work together to celebrate local boreens as a resource for the community.
The Eurovelo routes criss cross Europe on 15 main corridors. The Clifden to Dublin proposals are actually just a small section of Eurovelo 2 “the Capitals Route”. This passes through Dublin, London, the Hague, Berlin, Warsaw, Minsk and finishes up in Moscow. The formal proposal for the Galway Moscow route has been around since the late 1990s. Only a small component of the Eurovelo routes are completely traffic free. In fact, at the last count, 56% of the Eurovelo routes use existing low-traffic roads such as country lanes and forestry or agricultural routes. This is also an establish model for extensive national and local cycle routes elsewhere such as in Germany.
In the Golden Mile program local communities work with Galway Rural Development, Rural Recreation officers and the County Council. They identify, “adopt” and celebrate sections of low-traffic local country lanes and boreens. The routes are assessed for safety and local children do projects on the wildlife and features of interest whether natural or historical. As of 2017 there are 166 Golden Mile projects in Galway. This program is seen as a better model for delivering cycle routes than the current top down approach.
Golden mile video on youtube
Galway Cycling Solutions includes cycling interests but also represents up to 1,000 landowners and home owners. The group made it clear to the Ministers that the issue is not one that can be resolved through increased financial compensation. Many of those affected are adamant that money cannot make up for the disruption that the current proposals would bring. The meeting was also attended by Junior Minister Patrick O’Donovan, Minister Sean Canney, Deputy Michael Fitzmaurice and Deputy Ciaran Cannon and officials from the Department of Transport, Tourism and Sport. Ministers Ross and O’Donovan indicated that the matter had been on their minds since entering office and accepted that there had been flaws with the process to date. The Department is shortly to announce a public consultation designed to achieve a changed process for delivering a national cycle network.
However it is to be assumed that the project teams remain in place and consider that they still have mandate under the original process.
- Deirdre Grealish – Rosshill
- Adrian Kelly – Mullagh
- Martin Gibbons – Oughterard
- Michael Burke – Moycullen
- Shane Foran – Galway Cycling Campaign
- Eddie Punch – Irish Cattle and Sheep Farmers and Roscommon
The issue was also covered on the Keith Finnegan show on January 20th and 23rd
Starts at around 15:20
The Keith Finnegan Show – Monday January 23rd 2017
On Friday 16 December just as the Christmas holidays were arriving, the Department of Transport, Tourism and Sport (DoTTS) announced a “consultation” on the Irish section of Eurovelo 2 (the Capitals Route) which starts in Galway and finishes in Moscow. Unfortunately this latest consultation demonstrated that the DoTTS had learned nothing from previous experience and were still set on confrontation with local communities. The consultation itself is part of a Strategic Environmental Impact assessment process and invites feedback on documents associated with that process.
However the “vision statement” or terms of reference given for that process reveal no backing away from the extreme position taken by the Department in its conduct of the project so far.
Develop a segregated cycling and walking trail to international standards, extending from Dublin City to Galway which is of a scale that will allow Ireland to harness the potential of an identified growing tourism market for cycling. This route will form part of an interconnected National Cycle Network of high quality, traffic free, inter urban routes, which will establish Ireland as a quality international tourism destination for a broad range of associated recreational activities and pursuits.
Some of this appears to be verbal smokescreen such as the reference to “international standards”. The stated objectives within the document also refer to “best practice” along with other reference to “standards”. However no actual sources of practice or standards are actually provided. It is likely this is because there aren’t any credible sources that would support such a restricted approach. The problem lies with two words: “traffic free”. High quality international tourist cycling destinations do not rely exclusively on traffic-free routes. They use a range of options that build into a network of routes serving a range of user types. The term “traffic free” is not necessary to the creation of high-quality cycle routes. It is necessary however if the real goal of the project is to build 60km or more of completely new road through East Galway farmland. And at its essence this project does not seem to be about providing for cycling or walking but about finding excuses for roads engineers to construct a new road. A side effect of this will be to significantly increase the cost to the state of providing a route.
The relevant standards in this case are the EuroVelo guidelines under which 70,000km of international cycling routes have been created. This list shows the percentage share of the infrastructure components making up the established EuroVelo routes:
o Bicycle path/lane: 14%
o Trafﬁc-free asphalted road: 8%
o Trafﬁc-free non-asphalted road: 6%
o Public low-trafﬁc, asphalted road: 56%
o Public non-asphalted road: 3%
o Public high-trafﬁc, asphalted road: 14%
On some individual routes the proportion of low-traffic roads is higher. In France 64% of EuroVelo 4 uses low-traffic roads. Some routes will have extensive traffic-free sections because they run along disused railways, canals or river banks. However the underlying philosophy is practical and uses existing features, or existing roads, wherever they are suitable. Tourist cycling routes should be kept well away from heavy traffic but they do not need to be completely traffic-free. Across Europe cycling tourists and family groups make extensive use of low-traffic roads as part of local and national cycle networks.
The EuroVelo guidance on route development states.
Route infrastructure components:
• Public roads: if the speed limit exceeds 30km/h, the road should not carry more than 2,000 motor vehicles per day, preferably under 500 vehicles. In exceptional circumstances public roads carrying up to 4,000 vehicle units per day may be used on a temporary basis. Shared lane marking, trafﬁc reduction, calming measures and speed reduction can all contribute to improving safety. In urban areas and roads with high levels of motorised trafﬁc, 30km/h speed limits are a good solution
In order for the DoTTS “traffic free” vision statement to be defensible on technical or standards grounds, the Department must be able demonstrate that there is not a single farm track, bog track, green road, country lane, or boreen within the route corridor that is suitable to be repurposed as part of Eurovelo 2. No such assessment has been produced. Furthermore local residents report that in dealing with the project team the option of using existing features is being dismissed out of hand. Therefore it does not appear that the vision statement was guided by anyone with a good understanding of the practice of cycle route provision. Instead it would appear that a decision to build a new road through farm holdings was taken first and justification is being sought in unnamed standards (and cyclists) after the fact.
We are talking about the state taking land off farmers in Galway on the basis of no apparent technical need, or route constraint or geographical constraint. That suggests a process that is about the exercise of power rather than about the provision of cycle routes. And this is where things get really, really strange. This is Galway and 2016 was the 100th anniversary the 1916 rising. East Galway was one of the few places outside Dublin to actively join the rising. The republican activity in Galway and in particular the east of the county was directly linked to agrarian agitation. As a History Ireland article on the rising in Galway states:
An agrarian secret society had existed in Galway since 1907 and was largely responsible for the waves of land agitation that swept across the county during the first two decades of the new century. However, this secret society was itself a revival of a secret society that had originated in the early 1880s, and probably had roots in the secret society tradition of the early nineteenth century.
There was a bitter land war in the county since the 1800s particularly around Loughrea and Craughwell. (Loughrea is one of the three locations where the documents for the current consultation are being made available for review.) A summary of a recent book captures the time.
In Ireland, during the Land War of 1879-1882, Galway was regarded as dangerously disturbed because of the large number of agrarian incidents reported. These included murders, the wounding of persons and animals, arson, widespread boycotting, and intimidation. In an attempt to restore public order, the authorities implemented repressive legislation in the form of two Coercion Acts in 1881 and 1882. The result was the arrest and internment without trial of 166 individuals, the majority in the Loughrea and Athenry police districts. In Loughrea, there was a sense that the town was under siege because of the intimidating presence of military and police.
So, despite all this history, on the anniversary of the 1916 rising, somebody in the DoTTS decided they were going to arrive in Galway and compulsorily purchase (CPO) farmers’ land. This was clearly not being done as an unavoidable act for a public good where there was no alternative. Instead this was apparently a straightforward demonstration of power by those involved.
What could possibly go wrong?
The latest consultation period closes on Friday 27th January – see below for a submission template
EuroVelo Strategy 2012 2020
EuroVelo Guidance on the Route Development Process
History Ireland: The Easter Rising in Galway
Published in 20th-century / Contemporary History, Features, Issue 2 (Mar/Apr 2006), Revolutionary Period 1912-23, Volume 14
The Easter Rising in Galway
Loughrea, ‘That Den of Infamy’: The Land War in Co. Galway, 1879-82
by Pat Finnegan (Author)
Publisher: Four Courts Press (July 18, 2014)
If people are making submissions the template below captures a solution to the current impasse.
The address is: firstname.lastname@example.org
Template: Latest consultation on EuroVelo2 (Galway – Dublin – Moscow) Cycle Route
To whom it may concern
Please find below a submission on the latest EuroVelo 2 (Galway – Dublin) cycle route consultation as announced on December 16.
The current terms of reference for the project are unworkable and a recipe for conflict with local communities. In order to protect the brand of cycling tourism and recreational cycling in Galway the current project should be suspended. A revised project should be put together based on the following five points
- The Westernmost section of EuroVelo 2 should be developed and delivered according to the established EuroVelo guidelines
- There is no need for the entire route to be completely traffic free and roads with low-traffic conditions should be used where suitable or traffic conditions modified it necessary.
- The routes should avoid main roads to the greatest extent achievable – where main roads must be followed the route must be away from the influence of main road traffic.
- It is not necessary that the main route visit every town directly – spurs can be provided from the main route to the towns and villages.
- The project should involve stakeholder and community involvement using established local structures at all stages in the process, including preplanning and process definition.
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?