Venue: Massimo, Sea Road.
Present: Oisín, Kristin, Shane, Indy, Simon, Stan
1. Mobility Week
2. Signs project
3. Doughiska Road
4. Cycling maps
5. National groups
6. Press & public relations
1. Mobility Week was considered a great opportunity to encourage cycling and to inform people about alternative modes of transportation. Given the high proportion of single-occupant car journeys in Galway and nationwide, every convert to cycling will have a positive effect on the state of traffic.
Shane gave a seminar in NUI, Galway entitled “Tips and Tricks for Bicycle Users in City Traffic”. It was well-attended and provoked some interesting discussion. John Franklin, the renowned cycling advocate and road safety educator, launched the second edition of his book Cyclecraft in the City Library on September 16. Among the attendees were Chris Coughlan of the Galway Chamber, City Councillor Catherine Connolly, and members of the Galway Cycling Campaign and general public. John gave a talk, followed by a Q&A session.
At the monthly meeting it was quickly agreed to send thank-you cards to John and the Library, as well as to Sarah Knight and the City Museum for the parts they played during Mobility Week. Sarah did great work promoting Shane’s presentation in NUI, Galway, and the Museum were courteous and helpful in granting us space for presentations by Shane and Oisín on September 17. Kristin agreed to follow up on this.
Bart gave two bike maintenance workshops during Mobility Week, one in the university and one in Eyre Square. The Eyre Square workshop was combined with a folding bike demo in a marquee organised by the City Council. We also handed out road safety leaflets and bike lights, and we have more of these for the next time. Although the location wasn’t ideal for passing cyclists, Bart was kept busy and the sunshine helped make it a successful and enjoyable afternoon.
Other Mobility Week news: Shane spoke with a member of the Tuam Chamber of Commerce on the subject of one-way streets, specifically the possibility of making them two-way for cyclists in the town. John Franklin met with members of the City Council, the County Council, and the RSA in Ballina. John helped design the UK standard safety course, so his ideas and expertise received interest and appreciation in all quarters. For example, cycle training in Ireland is traditionally off-road, but this doesn’t prepare children and learner cyclists for traffic; John’s system allows them to progress towards traffic situations of growing complexity.
Oisín proposed writing to the Road Safety Authority (RSA) to follow up on their meeting with John Franklin. Shane said that ideally we would be having regular meetings with these bodies, especially the County Council. County councils nationwide are putting together development plans, and we need to be involved. Engineers and planners in the county seem to be quite open to new ideas, especially since Mobility Week.
2. The signs project with the County Council (“Burn fat not oil”; “Commuter not polluter”) is progressing nicely – the signs are completed and are big, clear and durable, sure to catch the public’s eye in their destined towns. Meanwhile, Shane and Oisín are seeking funds to replace the damaged signs in the city. Regarding the city signs, Kristin felt that the text was too small and might warrant a redesign, e.g. with a landscape layout rather than portrait. This would make them slightly more hazardous, but some kind of redesign was not ruled out.
3. Oisín went to the Doughiska Road residents association meeting, and he and Indy both attended the launch, where Oisín conveyed the Galway Cycling Campaign’s problems with the scheme. Oisín and Shane had a meeting with Minister Eamon Ó’Cuív, Joe Tansey, Ciaran Hayes, Mary Leahy and Michael Crowe. Shane and Oisín explained how the redevelopment design would endanger cyclists and pedestrians alike. Minister Ó’Cuív showed very good knowledge of the issues being discussed, backing the Galway Cycling Campaign’s positions and challenging Mr Hayes. The latter, unfortunately, was not budging, though he may consider minor changes. Joe Tansey said that the best way to make roads safer for cyclists was to have more cyclists on the roads; maybe John Franklin’s wisdom is finally spreading to officials.
Shane launched a legal complaint against the lead engineer on the Doughiska Road Safety Audit. This audit is considered a farce, with 12 of its 15 comments partly or totally about cycling, but without any understanding of cyclists’ concerns or needs on the road. And there was little or nothing about pedestrians, bus users or motorised vehicle users. The proposed signs for the road are the mixed-use pedestrian/bicycle signs, and under Irish law compulsory use rests on “cycle track” signs. At the meeting with the Minister, councillors and city officials, Shane was challenged about the legal action, and he pointed out that he would much rather not have to go through the ordeal, and that a little consultation early on would save a lot of people a lot of bother. As Oisín put it, the cycling group members would much rather be out promoting cycling. There was also some discussion about what cyclists we represented, and about the need to address cycling in the context of sustainable transport. In any event the Doughiska Road redevelopment scheme is to go ahead and will soon begin.
4. There was some discussion about the cycling maps for Galway, e.g. who they could benefit, what symbols we could use to denote what facilities, and where funding was being sought.
5. Shane and Stan gave a quick update on the national group (Cyclist.ie) – basically, things are progressing fine, a couple of press releases are being prepared, and the consensus policy paper is being distributed to various authorities. The RSA approached us for ideas on a draft warning sticker to be placed on the back of heavy goods vehicles. Stan had some problems with the basic layout, while Adam from the Cork group contributed his own design, but the important thing is that we were consulted in good faith and will respond in kind. The sticker needs to get the message of danger across as quickly and unambiguously as possible, with little or no English required to interpret this message.
6. Press and public relations. Kristin suggested a press release on the economic benefits of cycling, which would be a timely push given the current economic climate. The cost of fuel is very high, something City Bus have made use of in their ads. For families with two or more cars, motorised transport costs are likely to keep rising. Stan added that the cost and hassle of parking would continue to affect motorists – another angle for encouraging more cycling.
Indy mentioned Greg Power at the university Buildings Office: another possible source for collaboration. The bike lights initiative with the Guards was discussed, and all meeting attendees agreed that it would be worth doing again. We should try to get more armbands and reflective vests. According to Indy, the reflective jackets project in the university is still ongoing. Kristin said that the timing was right because of the dark evenings. Indy remembered Simon’s press release last year calling for cyclists to be well lit at night – time for a similar call, perhaps. Indy asked about overtaking on the left. Stan said that as far as he knew, if was a legal grey area. Shane affirmed this and expanded on the subject. Indy had been knocked off her bicycle twice in recent months, and wanted to establish where the responsibility lay, so she recounted the incidents and we discussed them. Oisín reported receiving verbal abuse from a van driver (“Get off the road!”). It was recommended to report all such incidents to the Gardai.
7. AOB. Simon proposed the idea of a leaflet for new members, to introduce them to the group and its basic aims. Stan suggested including the Hierarchy of Provision as described in the national document. Shane met with Jeremy Franco to discuss cycling provisions during next year’s Yacht race stopover in Galway. Jeremy wants to push cycling, and Shane advised him on how to approach it. Simon suggested a yearly work plan to help plan for major events such as Mobility Week and Road Safety Week. The latter was announced quite suddenly and the cycling advocacy community were not exactly inundated with invitations. Eoin is looking into Irish Rail matters and will report back. There was some discussion about how to distribute material, online and offline. A wiki might be a good way to do it, and it’s something we’ve touched on before. The idea of business cards for the Galway Cycling Campaign was put forward and roundly supported. Stan said he’d look into free services online.