Venue: Galway Social Space, 24 Middle St.

Present: Shane, Oisín, Conor, Urs, Stan.

Apologies: Simon, Indy, Kristin, James, Eoin, Martin, Alan.

Agenda:
1. Doughiska Road update
2. Volvo Race / City centre action plan
3. National issues (report), national cycling strategy, safety audits
4. Cycle training (report)
5. Chamber of Commerce transport initiative
6. Canal works
7. Dublin road
8. Website
9. Map project
10. AOB

Minutes were read from the GCC meetings in October and November 2008. Matters arising: Shane called the RSA re HGV stickers handed this task over to Adam in Cork. The minutes were proposed, seconded and adopted.

Brief introductions were made, there was some informal chat, then Shane asked the first-time attendees what they would like to see out of the GCC. Both Conor and Urs cited practical measures – something hands-on and effective to improve conditions for cyclists in Galway.

1. Oisín met Martin McElligot from the Transportation Unit, who offered to meet every few months. Shane mentioned the current work on the Ballybrit roundabout, where a hole in a wall by the bus stop would greatly convenience pedestrians and anyone getting off the bus at that stop – this would be a low-hassle, easy-win measure.

Urs asked about planning in Galway. Stan mentioned the City Development Plan, that its modest demands are there in writing more than in reality. Oisín and Shane elaborated on this and on the transportation studies. There seems to be little or no real enthusiasm in city management for public transport, still less for walking and cycling. Oisín referred to the bus lane earmarked for the Seamus Quirke Road since 2003. The plan is apparently being sat on.

2. There followed a discussion about the Volvo Race, the cycling map project and local politics. One idea that arose for discussion was the possible conversion of selected one-way streets to two-way for cyclists. Shane proposed to make a list and pick the one-way streets that could be converted with minimal cost and engineering requirements, and maximal benefits to cyclists. Conor suggested that this could be integrated with the map project. The suggestion was well received, though it was acknowledged that much would depend on resources, timing, circumstances and other unknown variables.

Urs asked about lobbying tactics, and how changes are best effected. Oisín explained how the Renmore Road redevelopment signalled a better process of communication between the GCC and the consulting engineers. The engineers approached the GCC and took its ideas on board before finishing the design plan, resulting in a creditable final design.

3. Shane gave a brief report on Cyclist.ie, the new national cycling lobby group. Urs compared Ireland’s cycling situation with that of his native Switzerland. After years of active lobbying there are now five cycling routes across the country, as well as training in schools. Registration and insurance were set through the Ministry of Transport. There followed some discussion about attitudes to cycling and cyclists, the importance of visibility and lights (and Ireland’s legal shortcomings in this matter) and the problem of planning.

The national cycling strategy is set for publication, and what its final version will contain and propose is anyone’s guess. We may need to prepare a comment for a national press release, outlining what we expect to see in the publication to best promote cycling in Ireland. Cyclist.ie should also seek another meeting with Ministers Noel Dempsey and John Gormley, to call for enforcement of speed limits, and (on-road?) cycle training for all schoolchildren.

4. Oisín and Shane received cycle instructor training in Manchester and London, respectively, which qualifies them to train cyclists to the UK national standard. There is to be a follow-up over the coming months, to complete the qualification. Getting insurance may be a sticking point and therefore needs to be assessed. It’s £60 a year in the UK. Their training standard depends heavily on safe mechanics – checking everything on the bike before entering traffic. Oisín said he was eager to start training: it would involve more cycling and positive activity – not the usual relentless politics and bureaucracy.

Shane explained that some non-national roads require a safety audit from the points of view of various road user types, but that assessors are generally ignorant of a cyclist’s perspective. Maybe we could call for engineers to receive cycle training.

5. Oisín will contact Chris Coughlan and Simon to follow up on the Chamber of Commerce transport initiative.

6. The canal path from Dominick Street to University Road has been resurfaced where necessary and looks very well. The new surface is smooth and light-coloured, which increases safety and visibility. Stan has taken photos and is preparing a press release to thank those concerned.

7. At Oisín’s meeting with Martin McElligot of the Transportation Unit, Mr McElligot said that the Moneenageisha roundabout on the Dublin Road was to be removed as part of the Volvo Race city centre action plan.

8. Alan told Shane that the website needed to change hosts, and that the email archive was liable to disappear. Since several of us archive these emails personally, this was considered acceptable.

9. See also 2., above. Simon received €500 from Galway County Council towards the map project. Licensing and copyright issues need to be investigated. We also need to examine our graphic design resources – can we do it ourselves, do we know someone who can help us, or will we need to budget for design?

10. Urs described the cycle training he carries out with children in Ballybane. He is insured by Foróige and has good relations with the local community guard. In Switzerland there are “traffic parks” where school children are trained to cycle. Oisín said there was one in Dublin. It was agreed that they should be fairly straightforward to assemble – a bit of paint and a few props – once the logistics and location were satisfactorily established. Urs offered to assemble relevant information on the Swiss training and legal environments.

Meeting ends.