July 2010: Cyclists face doomsday as Director of Services says Doughiska is the model for the City.

The issue of the Seamus Quirke Road came up at the City Council’s Transport Policy committee meeting on Monday 5th of July. The presentation by Joe Tansey, the head of the Galway Transportation Unit (GTU), confirmed that concerns and recommendations suggested by the Community Forum had been rejected almost in their entirety. There will be no ASLs at the junctions running along the main axis. Cyclists will be directed inside left-turning traffic. Cyclist will be required to swerve behind the bus stops and loose priority to crossing passengers. The bus stops will have guard rails to direct passengers out one side only. Cyclists who want to turn right will be expected to pull in to the left hand side of the road and either press a button or wait for the opposing green light. The content of Mr. Tansey’s presentation also reconfirmed his long-stated objective to effectively pedestrianise cyclists at the Dean (Fort Lorenzo) and Browne (Corrib Park) roundabouts. While it was stated that the GTU would look into cycle facilities “at” the roundabouts, in practice this amounts to the same thing.

Doughiska - priority is systematically removed from cyclists. Apparently this is now the model for the rest of the city

Doughiska - cyclists also lose priority at the bus stops.

Councillors Brian Walsh and Derek Nolan asked some pointed questions while Councillor Hildegarde Naughton also expressed concerns. Major concerns were repeatedly expressed by the community reps Derrick Hambleton and Shane Foran, supported by Mary Francis O’Conghaile .

The biggest bombshell of the meeting was a statement By Director of Services Ciaran Hayes that the Doughiska road is now the “model” for the rest of the city in terms of cycling provision.

Doughiska had arguably made Galway City an international laughing stock and has been nominated as one of the worst cycle lanes in Ireland. When the Doughiska scheme was first proposed in 2007, Mr. Hayes and Mr. Tansey were openly accused in the council chamber of conducting a “vendetta” against cyclists. After several votes the city officials succeeded in getting the scheme passed. The final design turned out to be worse than could have been imagined. In the space of 1.4km, cyclists had their priority removed at all 18 side roads, several bus stops, a taxi rank and several pedestrian crossings. The engineers who approved the design also stated that they expected cyclists to yield to turning and crossing traffic at every one of the 43 property entrances on the road.

It would seem that this is what the GTU are planning for the rest of the city if they succeed in winning the €25m on offer under the the Smarter Travel Areas Fund. The Smarter Travel program threatens to be a disaster for cycling in Galway.

Doughiska – Green for stop. The apparent intent of this treatment is to force cyclists to wait for waiting pedestrians, even if they have a green light.

Doughiska – cyclist voting with his feet. The GTU have indicated that in the case of the Seamus Quirke Road, they will use road signs making this illegal — something they have not previously done in the city.

June 2010: Community Forum condemns Quirke road redesign but avoids pulling plug on Areas Fund bid

The Galway City Community Forum acts as an umbrella for over 200 groups in the city and has always had strong and detailed policies on sustainable travel. These policies are developed and promoted by the Forum’s Transport subgroup, which includes community nominees to the Transport Policy Committee of the City Council and the Integrated Transport committee of the City Development Board.

At its quarterly meeting on 8th June 2010, the Forum discussed a motion condemning the Galway Transportation Unit’s activities in relation to Smarter Travel and the Seamus Quirke road design. Several members of the Transport subgroup called for the Forum to withdraw support from the City Council’s bid for funding under the Smarter Travel Areas Fund. The GTU’s activities in relation to the Seamus Quirke Road redesign are seen as a betrayal of the work that went into supporting the bid and were described as a “stab in the back” for those trying to promote sustainable transport.

There was some disagreement on this point and there is reason to believe that some lobbying may have taken place beforehand by political interests in an attempt to save the city’s chances of getting the funding. In the end the meeting agreed to adopt the following wording:

“Galway City Community Forum wishes to reaffirm its support for the Smarter Travel Bid. However, Galway City Community Forum wishes to express serious concerns with regards to the proposed redesign of the Seamus Quirke Road/Bishop O’Donnell Road Scheme. The Forum is appalled by the lack of consultation throughout the redesign process and calls for full consultation on all aspects of the design. It is the view of the Forum that the proposed design is in conflict with the principles of Smarter Travel.”

Bike week: GTU continues to generate controversy and bad publicity

The view from the Salmon Weir end

The view from the Salmon Weir end

The Galway Cycling Campaign wishes to disassociate itself from the Galway Transportation Unit’s controversial Newtownsmyth one-way street experiment and is questioning claims that it was intended to benefit cyclists. At the start of Bike Week 2010, the City Council announced a “contraflow” cycle lane in Newtownsmyth, a street that already has two-way traffic and where there was therefore no logical requirement or demand for contraflow cycling.

The Council did not consult the Cycling Campaign on this scheme. The Campaign is unlikely to have endorsed a scheme that had no formal benefit to cyclists and that did nothing to solve existing problem locations. In addition, we would never have supported a scheme whose execution demonstrably flew in the face of established best practice. The provision of two-way cycling on suitable one-way streets is a long-established and widely endorsed method for improving cyclist access and safety — one that was actually suggested for Galway in a report compiled in 1979.
Newtownsmyth entrance to contraflow cycle track;

Newtownsmyth entrance to contraflow cycle track


Local businesses were left feeling like the street was a building site

Local businesses were left feeling like the street was a building site

German cities like Bremen began providing two-way cycling on one-way streets in the early 1980s. In central Brussels, 60% of one-way streets are two-way for cyclists; in Liege, 70%. Belgian research indicates that the accident rate for cyclists is lower on these streets. In Ireland, as in Belgium, it is often possible to provide two-way cycling simply by putting up a sign at the entrance to the road. Irish traffic law was amended in 1998 so that in its simplest form, councils could provide two-way cycling by just adding an exemption plate ‘Except Cyclists — Ach Amháin Rothaithe’ to existing No Entry signs. The provision of two-way cycling on one-way streets was adopted as a stated objective of the Galway City Development Plan 2005–2011, but there has been no sign of any attempt by the city council executive to meet this requirement.
Dublin street sign showing exemption for cyclists entering one-way street

Dublin street sign showing exemption for cyclists entering one-way street

There are various one-way streets in Galway where this could have been piloted with minimal changes to road layout. Instead, the street at Newtownsmyth was made one-way for a week and a “cycle track” was implemented by bolting an unsightly row of traffic cones into the street surface. The result was disruption to local businesses and users of the street, and the attendant criticism that was widely reported in the media. The 2007 bus study included a proposal to ban right turns from Newtownsmyth toward the courthouse. This suggests that the Newtownsmyth experiment was a test run for a long-planned extension of the city’s one-way street system, under the guise of a cycling scheme.
Dublin: Gateway treatment at entrance to one-way street

Gateway treatment at entrance to one-way street. This is only necessary if there are formal no-entry markings. If there are just signs then an exemption plate is all that is needed.

Business fury over ‘barmy’ cycle lane Galway City Tribune June 18 http://www.galwaynews.ie./13461-business-fury-over-%E2%80%98barmy%E2%80%99-cycle-lane Get on your bike for National Bike Week Galway Advertiser, June 10, 2010. http://www.advertiser.ie/galway/article/27214 (Includes announcement of contra flow scheme)

Bike week: Treasure Hunt a winner with the kids again in 2010!

A happy explorer

A happy explorer

The 2nd Annual Family Cycling Treasure Hunt survived some initial summer showers to come out a clear winner with the kids yet again in 2010. An afternoon of cycling fun, training, exploration and adventure was had by over thirty families.

Starting from the Arts Millennium building in NUI, Galway and taking in some of Galway city’s most scenic routes, the treasure hunt used the university campus for traffic-free fun.

Bikes had their NCT with Mike the bike doctor before setting off on the “Explorer” course, designed for smaller children and their adult supervisors. The “explorers” travelled through the university ground, along the River Corrib, and back to the main campus via Corrib Village. Educational questions, relating to cycling benefits and safety, were mixed with fun challenges, such as a slow bike race and cycle slalom. There was also cycling skills education with a qualified UK National Standard Cycling instructor.

Enjoying the slow bike race at the Galway Cycling Treasure Hunt 2010

Enjoying the slow bike race at the Galway Cycling Treasure Hunt 2010

Older children finished with the longer “Adventurer” course; it incorporated the Explorer course and extended along Galway’s canal system, involving some on-road sections of Mill Street and New Street. Volunteers were present along the routes to offer help, stickers, friendly smiles and chats. After completing the courses, cyclists were treated to refreshments — fruit, chocolate, drinks, and a variety of delicious homemade muffins — until the prize draw took place at 4 pm. There were three prizes of vouchers for Nigel’s Cycles on the Tuam Road, and all the children got bells for their bicycles, courtesy of Richard Walsh Cycles on the Headford Road.

The winners of the vouchers were

Albert Hardiman
Cloe Benson
Conor Moran

The Galway Cycling Campaign would like to thank NUI, Galway for hosting the event, the Department of Transport for funding, Galway City Council for their assistance, and the many volunteers who helped make the 2010 Family Cycling Treasure Hunt such a success. The Campaign is very grateful to the Red Cross, who were on hand throughout the day, and to Critical Mass Galway, who provided enthusiastic volunteers. Most of all, we want to thank the cyclists of all ages who took part. We hope they enjoyed the event as much as we did, and we hope to see them again next year!

Galway Cycling Treasure Hunt 2010 Crew

Galway Cycling Treasure Hunt 2010 Crew

Families invited to take part in bicycle treasure hunt

Galway Cycling Campaign is inviting families to come out and join in
the fun of a bicycle treasure hunt this weekend.

The event is one of the highlights of Ireland’s National Bike
Week/Seachtain na Rothaíochta (13–20 June 2010). The bicycle treasure hunt
is an ideal fun activity to bring your kids to, this Sunday 13 June.
Not only will it give children and teenagers the opportunity to enjoy
some of Galway’s most scenic cycleways, it will also give them a fun
challenge in the process. All participants are in with a chance of
winning cycle-related prizes.

Families can choose from two different scenic routes: the Explorer
course is aimed primarily at younger riders and their adult
supervisors and will be completely traffic free, while the Adventurer
course will feature some short on-road sections around Galway’s canal
system. Participants will collect cycle-related trivia en route, which
will outline the benefits of cycling for the individual, the community
and the planet.

Last year’s event was hugely successful, with around 100 people
participating. Stewards will be on hand to man all the on-road
junctions, but it is recommended that participants under 18 be
accompanied by an adult. Registration is between 12 noon and 1 pm at
the Arts Millennium Building, NUIG. Light refreshments will also be
provided.

What better way to spend a lovely June day than on your bike cycling
along the beautiful River Corrib? If that doesn’t tempt you, then the
opportunity to win a prize should twist your arm. Bike Week is a
series of nationwide events organised by cycling groups, communities
and local authorities, supported by the Department of Transport.

Volunteers are always needed for events like this, so if you or anyone
you know are interested in lending a hand, you can contact the Galway
Cycling Campaign on 086 1611587 or e-mail info@galwaycycling.org. A
brochure listing the full schedule of Galway events is available to
download from www.bikeweek.ie.

City Council to spend €6 million to slow down City buses

The Galway Cycling Campaign has reacted with incredulity to Galway City Council’s latest redesign of the Seamus Quirke/Bishop O’Donnell Road, saying it will lead to increased danger for pedestrians and cyclists and serious inconvenience for public transport users.

As of 2007, the proposed design included an on-road solution for cyclists for the length of the corridor via a 4.5m-wide shared bus/cycle lane. The use of wide bus/cycle lanes is considered international best practice and is endorsed by the Government’s National Cycle Policy Framework. For instance, the Parisien “Mobilien” Bus Rapid Transit System has over 100km of shared bus/cycle lanes.

It has now been revealed that the Galway design has been dramatically changed without stakeholder consultation. The new design will incorporate a reduced bus lane of 3.125m width, and ramped cycle paths that will run alongside pedestrian walkways. Cyclists will be intermittently ramped up and down onto raised cycle paths (some as short as 60–70m) between junctions, and these cycle paths will swerve behind all bus stops along the route. The ramped cycle paths will not provide cyclists with access to the road on the approach to the Deane (Fort Lorenzo) and Browne (Corrib Park) roundabouts; as a result, cyclists will be forced to become pedestrians at either end of the corridor.

According to the Galway Cycling Campaign, the majority of cyclists will refuse to use the planned cycle paths due to the danger and significant inconvenience they will cause. It is the view of the Campaign that cyclists will stick to the safest and most expedient option and continue to use the shared bus lanes. With the formerly 4.5m-wide bus/cycle lanes being narrowed to 3.125m, public transport users will face significant inconvenience, as bus drivers will be unable to safely overtake cyclists (current city buses measures 3.1m in width). Through this dramatic redesign, the city council will impose an assumption that at times of traffic congestion, buses will have to travel at cycling speed. The Seamus Quirke/Bishop O Donnell corridor is a vital section of the City Council’s flagship Bus Rapid Transit scheme.

The Cycling Campaign believes that the use of €6 million by the City Council to effectively slow buses down to cycling speed, increase the risk of pedestrian/cyclist collision, and force cyclists to dismount at roundabouts, is a significant waste of limited funds.

May 2010: Key section of “flagship” Smarter Travel cycle route may not have provision for cyclists.

An Oranmore-to-Barna coastal cycling route is a central feature of the Galway Metropolitan Area’s bid for the Smarter Travel Areas fund. This scheme is also mentioned in the current Programme for Government.

A key component of the route is the section between Blackrock in Salthill and Silver strand in Barna. It was raised at a meeting earlier this year between the Galway Cycling Campaign and the Galway County Council.

If the coastal cycle route is to reach Barna via the coast, then works will be needed to bring it across the mouth of Rusheen bay, which is a conservation area, to Silver strand. The county council staff involved in the Smarter Travel bid saw this as the key challenge in linking with the rest of the proposed route.

Subsequently, in the City Tribune of 14 May 2010, it was revealed that the City Council is working on a plan for coastal protection works in the same area. According to the Tribune, these works will include a boardwalk to cater for the extension of the Promenade walkway to Silver strand. The same article, however, explicitly states that the new structure will “not include a cycle path”. Subsequently in a conversation with Senator Niall Ó Brolcháin at the 8th June city community forum meeting he confirmed that it is also his understanding that there is no provision for cycling in the plans for this section of the route.

May 2010: City Council starts explicitly removing priority from cyclists along Headford Road and in Newcastle.

Entry to Kearneys bike shop looking South

New road markings removing priority from cyclists on Headford Rd. Motorists are given the message they no longer need to yield to crossing cycilsts.

The cycle paths on the Quincentennial bridge and associated roads have been a source of controversy since they were first constructed in the 1980s. From that time, cyclists have been asking questions about how they were expected to make lawful use of these paths. (It was first pointed out to the council engineers at the time of construction that the Newcastle road junction required separate traffic lights for cyclists in order to work – their response at the time was that they didn’t know anything about that kind of thing.)  Over the intervening years the city council executive have been happy to leave the issue of priority on these routes unspecified.

Then in May 2010, the council started placing new road markings the paths. The council had the option of following practice elsewhere and putting in markings that emphasised priority for cyclists over turning and crossing traffic. Instead, the council has chosen to use road markings that systematically remove priority from cyclists at every location where a choice could be made. The new markings imply that cyclists must yield to following motor traffic and that cyclists must stop for green lights. The city council did this while at the same time they were in the middle of a bid for 25 million in Smarter Travel funding for measures to promote walking and cycling.

Crosswalk at entrance to Dunnes

Although there is also a crosswalk clearly marked across the entry to Dunnes, priority has still been removed from cycle traffic

Pedestrian lights at Dunnes

Pedestrian lights at Dunnes: Instead of regularising the road marking to comply with legal requirements for traffic signals, the council executive have removed priority from cyclists at all times. (Green for stop)

A Touch of Green Amid the Asphalt

Last Sunday 11 April, to celebrate World Health Day 2010 and Galway City Council’s decision to close Cross St. and Middle St. to motorised traffic for the afternoon, the Galway Cycling Campaign converted a small section of the road — the size of a single car — into a miniature public park for the people of Galway. It was the second time we created this mini-park in the city.

By temporarily constructing Galway’s newest park, our aim is to creatively explore how urban public space is allocated and used. Inexpensive kerb-side parking results in more motor traffic and less space in our city centre. This in turn hinders the movement of pedestrians, cyclists, and motor vehicles; it adds to the level of CO2 emissions; and it obstructs the creation of a healthy, vibrant human habitat for Galway. We are re-imagining the possibilities of the city landscape.

Our re-interpretation of road space demonstrates that even temporary spatial redesign can improve the character of Galway City. We were also lucky to have a beautiful sunny afternoon. Many curious passers-by stopped to chat, to sample our delicious bicycle biscuits, to sign up to our mailing lists, to read our educational signs and our new Cycling Skills leaflets, and simply to watch the world go by from an unexpected green patch on the road.

We would like to thank Galway City Council for closing Cross St. and Middle St. to traffic for the afternoon, and we’re especially grateful to everyone who stopped and said hello. We’re already looking forward to the next outing of our mini public park!