Chief Super Curley responds to Galway Cycling Campaign letter

Galway Cycling Campaign (GCC) wrote a letter to Galway’s Chief Superintendent Tom Curley seeking clarification on his recent comments regarding cycling two abreast at a Joint Policing Committee meeting. A newspaper article quoted him as stating that it is unlawful in Ireland for cyclists to cycle side-by-side, that cyclists must cycle in single file. The reported remarks were at variance with the law.
To see our letter click here:
Galway Cycling Campaign letter to Supt Tom Curley r.e. cycling two abreast comments at Gway Co Joint Policing Committee

He responded to GCC, saying, “At this particular Joint Policing Committee in November 2017, the issue of cycling was discussed as part of a wider conversation on road safety and should not be taken as a legal interpretation of the legislation you have correctly quoted.”
Here is a photo of the letter:

Reported Garda comments wrong in law says cyclists

The Galway Cycling Campaign is to seek clarification from the Gardai regarding statements at variance with the law reported from a recent County Joint Policing Committee (JPC). In its November 10th edition the Connacht Tribune ran a story reporting that Chief Superindentant Tom Curley had claimed before the JPC that it is unlawful in Ireland for cyclists to cycle side-by-side. He is further reported to have made comments regarding risking life and limb in passing cyclists.

The Galway Cycling Campaign understands the traffic law in Ireland to be as follows.

1. There is a primary duty of care on all road users under Article 67 of the the Roads Act 1993 to avoid personal injury or injury to others. There is also a duty to avoid damage to property including personal property.
2. Under the traffic and parking regulations (SI 182/1997) overtaking may not be carried out in a manner that creates risks to others.
3. Under the traffic regulations, cyclists are entitled to cycle in twos side by side. Two cyclists who are cycling side by side may be overtaken by a third cyclist. Cyclists who are cycling side by side and need to overtake other traffic should go in single file to do so.

In our understanding this means that people on bicycles are not obliged in law to permit others to act in a way that places the cyclist’s person or their property in danger. Such as inviting unsafe overtaking manoeuvres at unsuitable locations – of which there are many on Irish roads. On many narrow roads, if it is not possible to overtake two cyclists safely without using the other lane, then the same applies to single cyclists. A key piece of advice for all cyclists is to avoid getting too close the edge of the road. This is due to the danger caused by poor road surfaces and hazards such as drainage grates. Cycling safely requires taking adequate road space. Overtaking cyclists safely also requires taking adequate space. Furthermore there is a view among those cyclists who train in groups that going side by side makes overtaking by other drivers safer and easier by shortening the length of road needed. Clearly like other vehicle operators cyclists need to be mindful and considerate of others and avoid causing obstructions without due cause. However whenever there is a tension between safety and courtesy safety must come first.

Quotes from Irish Roads and Traffic Legislation

Roads Act 1993
Section 67 Road users’ duty of care.

67.—(1) It shall be the duty of a person using a public road to take reasonable care for his own safety and for that of any other person using the public road.

(2) It shall be the duty of a person using a public road to take all reasonable measures to avoid—

(a) injury to himself or to any other person using the public road,

(b) damage to property owned or used by him or by any other person using the public road.

Traffic and Parking Regulations SI 182/1997

It states as follows:

Article 47 Pedal Cyclists

47. (1) A pedal cyclist shall not drive a pedal cycle on a roadway in such a manner as to result in more than two pedal cyclists driving abreast, save when overtaking other pedal cyclists, and then only if to do so will not endanger, inconvenience or obstruct other traffic or pedestrians.

(2) Pedal cyclists on a roadway shall cycle in single file when overtaking other traffic.

Article 10 Overtaking

10. (1) A driver shall not overtake, or attempt to overtake, if to do so would endanger, or cause inconvenience to, any other person.

(2) A driver shall not overtake, or attempt to overtake, unless the roadway ahead of the driver—

( a ) is free from approaching traffic, pedestrians and any obstruction, and

( b ) is sufficiently long and wide to permit the overtaking to be completed without danger or inconvenience to other traffic or pedestrians.

SI 182/1997
Traffic: “traffic” does not include pedestrians;

Quotes attributed to Superintendent Tom Curly in City Tribune edition of 10 November
Article: In a spin over cyclists
Sub head: Two bikes side by side on road is illegal Joint Policing Committee meeting told.
By Denise McNamara


Chief Superintendent Curley said one bike was entitled to cycle on a road – not two. “One thing that happened in the Celtic Tiger is we lost our patience. There’s been more examples of verbal altercations – nearly going to fisticuffs – over cyclists. Sunday morning is a particular issue. The man [a questioner from the floor] then reiterated his point: “So cyclists are not allowed cycle two abreast?” “No,” replied, the Divisional Garda chief, “One.”
Another member of the public said Judge Mary Devins had thrown out a prosecution in Westport District Court in connection with a cyclist. “It was announced by Judge Devins that we were the only country in Europe which hasn’t a law in place regulating bicycles.” He remarked. Chief Supt Curley said it was hard enough to pass one bike. “But multiples of two, you’re definitely risking life and limb passing more than one … it is single file from where I’m sitting”

Proposed Ardaun Suburb roadlocked and inherently car-dependent

The controversial city council proposals for a new suburb at Ardaun have again provoked serious concern regarding safety and suitability as the latest Public Consultation closes this Friday 20th October at 4pm. The Galway Cycling Campaign are again rejecting claims that the controversial site has good connectivity with the city. They are also rejecting claimed comparisons with urban villages like Salthill. City planner claims of a community that favours walking and cycling are being treated as unsupportable.

According to the cyclists the proposed roads around the site remain of an unsuitable character. It seems the Martin Roundabout at the Galway Clinic is to be the main means of access to the site for cyclists and pedestrians. There is only reference in the draft plan to “investigating” removing the roundabout. There are no concrete proposals for foot/cycle bridges into the site across the dual carriageways that sever the site from Roscam and Doughiska.

There is mention of a “public transport” bridge into the site from Doughiska but this is not stated as a prerequisite for the development. It seems to be mentioned as feature that might be delivered by the Galway Transport Strategy but is not a deliverable for the Ardaun Local area plan. Furthermore it is now clear that the public transport proposals have generated significant opposition in Doughiska. This makes it likely that the public transport bridge simply will not happen. The plans also show a “Primary Cycling / Pedestrian Network” joining the high speed Coolagh roundabout at the end of the M6/N6 at ground level. This “Primary Cycling / Pedestrian Network” then crosses into Ardaun by crossing the slip road onto the southbound dual carriageway.

Since the 1980s Irish guidance has raised serious reservation about using roundabouts at locations where cyclists are expected due to the high collision risk. The 2009 National Cycle Policy Framework defines roundabouts as a matter needing remedial action if more cycling is to be encouraged. Overall the cycling campaigns analysis is that this plan represents more “planned car dependency” for Galway that will put more unnecessary car journeys into a location near Parkmore already noted for traffic problems.

Quotes from Irish Guidance

National Cycle Policy Framework 2009
Download the Irish version here.
Download the English version here.
Page 20
2.6 Remedial Measures
We will carry out remedial measures on existing cyclist-unfriendly urban roads with a special focus on roundabouts, multi-lane oneway streets and road narrowing schemes. Without addressing the difficulties posed by high capacity, high speed roundabouts in urban locations – and particularly those between residential areas and schools – it will be very difficult to encourage more of the public to cycle.

R.286 Design and Use of Roundabouts in Ireland, An Foras Forbatha, 1987.

This has been the standard text Irish on such matters for the last 16 years. In this document the most relevant study is one that takes an in depth look at traffic accidents on the roundabouts on the Swords bypass in Dublin. A particular finding was that the accident rate for the two-wheelers was five (x5) times higher than they were expecting.

Section 4 General Observations on Specific By-Pass Accident Groupings

Page 95:
” (d) One of the worrying features of the safety performance of the Swords By-pass is the high incidence of two-wheelers in personal injury accidents (over 50% of all injury accidents as shown in Table 5). Significantly this trend reflects that of the T.R.R.L. report where accident involvement rates […] of two-wheeler riders were about 10-15 times those of car occupants. Comparative Irish figures of fatal and injury accidents for pedal cycles and motorcycles outside build up areas are 4.6% and 6.8% respectfully. Thus the combined rate is approximately 20% of that for the By-pass accidents”

Section 5 Conclusions

Page 101
“4) The high incidence of two wheeler accidents on the Swords bypass allied with similar findings in the major accident study carried out by the TRRL on roundabouts shows that roundabouts on high speed roads do not provide a safe environment for two wheelers and consequently give serious reservation as to their use where high numbers of this road user class is expected”.

Galway Cyclists welcome Waterford as a model to progress Athenry to Tuam Greenway


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.

Further reading

Greenway experts to outline benefits of proposed Galway greenway

Westmeath Independent
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

10 February 2017 Headford Road Roundabout – where to from here?

Final_GCC_logo_7_06_2010 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.

Option 1

  • Kirwan Roundabout replaced with a 5 arm signalised junction.

Option 3A

  • 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.

Option 3B

  • 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.



City council announces consultation on Headford Road (Kirwan) roundabout replacement

Final_GCC_logo_7_06_2010 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.