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!

Ban bendy buses say cyclists

As the City Council meet to consider the recent MVA public transport study, the Galway Cycling Campaign is calling on them to keep the safety of citizens uppermost by banning so-called bendy buses from the city. Although the report has not been circulated to the city council’s transport policy committee, there are indications that it explores the option of bendy buses in Galway.    

Bendy or “articulated” buses are like two normal buses stuck together with a hinge. The bendy buses are 18m (60ft) long and have provoked controversy in Dublin and London. There are concerns that in historic cities with constricted road layouts, bendy buses increase risk for cyclists and pedestrians. There are particular concerns about drivers overtaking cyclists in constricted spaces or turning left at junctions. “Galway needs a first class public transport system based on local conditions and tailored to local needs,” said campaign PRO Oisin Ó Nidh. “It is hard to see how bendy buses could be part of that solution in Galway, which is already Ireland’s walking and cycling city.”  

In Dublin, following complaints by cycling representatives, Dublin bus stated that they have no plans to buy any more of the buses. In London, the buses have been particularly controversial with respect to the safety of pedestrians and cyclists. In his manifesto for the mayoral election, Boris Johnson pledged to eliminate the bendy buses from the city. The buses are now being phased out and the operators are offering them to other cities. Galway Cycling Campaign chair Shane Foran concluded: “If bendy buses are now being advocated for Galway, this would raise concerns that we are being used as a dumping ground for other cities’ failed experiments.”

ENDS

London Evening Standard newspaper

Scrap the bendy bus and bring back Routemasters, says Boris
By Paul Waugh, Evening Standard Last updated at 11:01am on 12.09.07
http://www.thisislondon.co.uk/news/article-23411785-scrap-the-bendy-bus-and-bring-back-routemasters-says-boris.do
 
http://www.thisislondon.co.uk/news/article-23399737-bendy-buses—the-fatal-facts.do
 
http://www.thisislondon.co.uk/standard/article-23437742-accidents-surge-as-bendy-buses-take-over.do

Bendy buses for Brighton and Hove
http://www.bricycles.org.uk/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=89209&Itemid=52

BBC

http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/uk_news/magazine/7306526.stm

http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/uk_news/magazine/7306526.stm

WIKIPEDIA 
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Articulated_buses_in_London

Cycling Campaign criticise Cllr Flaherty for being inconsistent

The Galway Cycling Campaign wonders why Cllr Terry O Flaherty is criticising cyclists for cycling on Shop Street, when she herself has voted for schemes in the past which put cyclists up on footpaths. The Galway Cycling Campaign opposed the Doughiska Road redevelopment scheme because of this very point, i.e putting cyclists up on the footpaths and placing them in conflict with pedestrians. Anybody who has seen the mess that is the Doughiska Road can see that cyclists are in clear conflict with pedestrians on sections of this road and especially with public transport users at the bus stops. Cllr O Flaherty voted for this scheme.

Oisin Ó Nidh, Campaign PRO, says: “On the one hand, Cllr Terry O Flaherty is promoting cycling on footpaths by voting for these schemes in the city council, and then on the other hand she criticises cyclists for cycling on Shop Street. There is no consistency here. The city council and Cllr O Flaherty are sending out mixed messages to cyclists.” The Galway Cycling Campaign has consistently called for cyclists to use the roads in the past — only children should be cycling on footpaths, and if adults are cycling in areas like Shop Street they should only do so at walking speed.

The closure of Shop Street to cyclists has been controversial since it was first proposed in the 1990s. In 1997, a council-sponsored transport study showed Shop St to be a major route across the city for cyclists. The Galway Cycling Campaign brought this to the attention of the city council executive at the time, and the council was made aware of best-practice design guidance from Germany and the UK that specified that such schemes should incorporate provision for cyclists.

This was especially the case for Shop St, since it was a route for schoolchildren accessing the secondary schools concentrated in the west of the city. The city council executive ignored best practice and went ahead with a scheme that simply banned cycling across the city centre. This triggered a complaint to the EU, as EU funds had been used on the scheme. In response, the City Council Executive stated that they had identified alternative routes across the city for cyclists but neglected to indicate what those routes might be. According to the cycling campaign, the only routes are a multilane one-way system via the docks, or a long detour via the Salmon Weir bridge and Nuns Island. Leaving aside the question of cross-city traffic, for years the only cycle parking available was at Mainguard/Bridge St. This meant that cyclists coming from the east to shop in town still had to bring their bikes through the pedestrian zone to park them.

Campaign chair Shane Foran observed, “While we have no remit for inconsiderate cycling, the fact is that trying to shut down the major cross-city cycling route in a medieval university city was always likely to be unenforceable for the Gardai. Shop Street joins a litany of projects whose management by the council executive has been highly questionable.”

Walking and Cycling Strategy: Consultants don’t need cycling skills says council official

In the latest twist in the ongoing controversy over the consultants (AECOM) assigned to Galway City and Environs Walking and Cycling Strategy, the Council’s Director of Services Ciaran Hayes has argued that they do not have to have passed an approved cycling skills course. Last November, the Galway Cycling Campaign wrote to Mr Hayes to establish that the consultants had taken an approved cycling skills course, or had formal training that would allow them to assess roads used by cyclists. Objective 18.3 of the Irish Government’s National Cycle Policy Framework (NCPF) states: “We will also stipulate that all local authority roads engineers and any engineer wishing to tender for government road contracts should be required to have taken an approved cycling skills course”. Cyclist.ie, the national cycling lobby group, also state that completing an approved cycling skills course is a standard requirement for all consultants undertaking such work. Mr Hayes has responded that his interpretation of national cycling policy is that the undertaking of such training will not be mandatory for road design work. He has also argued that the consultants on the Walking and Cycling Strategy are not engaged in design work, and that there is no approved training course in place.

The Cycling Campaigners dispute Mr. Hayes’s interpretation on various grounds. Galway Cycling Campaign chair Shane Foran said, “The first thing this line of argument suggests is that the council have managed to employ cycling consultants who have never been independently assessed on their understanding of cycling in traffic. Why would they argue that the cycle skills training isn’t needed unless their consultants haven’t done it?” Although they reject Mr. Hayes’s line of reasoning, the cyclists point out that his own interpretation is undermined by the consultants’ brief which his office issued for the work. The brief states that the consultants must proof their work with regard to the NCPF: “If they are working to the policy document as part of their brief, this suggests that to fulfill their brief the consultants must have done the training,” continued Mr. Foran.

On the claim by Mr. Hayes that the strategy does not include design work, the cyclists point out that the consultants’ brief includes “retrofitting and making modifications to the existing travel routes, footpath and cycletrack linkages in all developments, integration with public transport, integration with public amenities and recreational facilities, and accessibility for people with disabilities”. “As far as we are concerned these are all design activities,” said Mr. Foran.

Finally, the cyclists reject Mr. Hayes’s argument that there is no “approved” cycling skills course. In fact, there is only one accredited cycling skills course available: the UK National Standard for Cycle Training, which is overseen by an official Cycle Training Standards Board and whose instructors must be inspected to obtain accreditation. The Irish Green Schools Travel staff, who work with 400 schools, have been trained as UK National Standard instructors. The Galway Cycling Campaign hold that this provides a reference cycling skills course against which the AECOM staff can be evaluated. “AECOM are based out of a main office in London,” the campaign PRO spokesperson Oisín Ó Nidh pointed out, “they are within a short distance of several accredited training providers who could do the course with them for around a few hundred pounds. You would think they would just go and do the course.”

Irish National Cycle Policy Framework
http://www.transport.ie/upload/general/11387-0.pdf

“NCPF 18.3 Training of Professionals

We will organise training workshops / sessions for all design professionals in understanding and using the new guidance produced.

We will also stipulate that all local authority roads engineers and any engineer wishing to tender for government road contracts should be required to have taken an approved cycling skills course, together with a course on cycling friendly infrastructure design.”

Campaign Welcomes City Council’s Smarter Travel 30km/h Speed Limit Proposal

The Galway Cycling Campaign has welcomed the City Council’s proposal to introduce a 30km/h speed limit as part of its proposal to secure funding of €25 million for the Galway Metropolitan Area from the Smarter Travel fund.

Commenting on this proposal, Shane Foran, the Chair of the Galway Cycling Campaign, stated:
“During the “big freeze” it was clear that traffic speeds in the city were reduced. Motorists have been driving at the speed limit on main roads, at 30km/h on secondary roads and at walking speed in housing estates where the roads are the children’s main play area.  In other countries, this would be considered normal driver behaviour all year round and gives a glimpse of how the city could be all the time with reduced traffic speeds creating a more cyclist and pedestrian friendly environment.”

The Campaign also believes that the City Council’s target of a 100% increase in cycling over the next 5 years can be achieved and exceeded if the sensible measures are put in place, and if the money allocated is not wasted on white-elephant cycling schemes.

While welcoming the fact that the City Council have made it to Stage 2 of the Smarter Travel fund, the Galway Cycling Campaign is wary of some the Council’s proposals and the omission of obvious issues facing pedestrians and cyclists. Oisin Ó Nidh of the Galway Cycling Campaign says: “First, roundabouts are not addressed at all. Large multi-lane roundabouts are one of the biggest deterrents for many walkers and cyclists trying to navigate in this city. Second, the money must be spent wisely, especially in this economic climate. Half a million Euro would provide top quality cycle parking stands all around the city, not just the city centre. Developing cycle-only routes can be very expensive, and the benefit can be limited to a small number of cyclists and usually for only part of their journey. We encourage Galway City Council to use the Department of Transport’s “National Cycle Policy Framework” document as a template when implementing cycling measures.”

Walking and Cycling Strategy: Query raised re consultants’ qualifications

The Galway Cycling Campaign have written to City Council Director of Services, Ciaran Hayes, seeking clarification on the qualifications of the consultants assigned to Galway City and Environs Walking and Cycling Strategy (AECOM). The Campaigners say that they have been unable to establish that the consultants have taken an approved cycling skills course or have formal training that would allow them to assess roads used by cyclists.

The Irish Government’s National Cycle Policy Framework states: “We will also stipulate that that all local authority roads engineers and any engineer wishing to tender for government road contracts should be required to have taken an approved cycling skills course”. The stated policy of the National Cycling Lobby Group, Cyclist.ie also specifies that the completion of an approved cycling skills course is a standard requirement for all consultants undertaking such work.

The Cycling Campaign have requested documentary evidence showing that the consultants (AECOM) have taken such a course.

Shane Foran speaking for the campaign added “In the UK and Ireland , the only accredited cycling skills course dealing with the full range of on-road traffic skills is the UK National Standard for Cycle Training. The Green Schools Travel staff currently working with 400 schools, including schools in Galway, have been trained as UK National Standard instructors” The Cycle Campaign states that current best practice for drafting viable cycling strategies requires consultants who are able to audit the existing roads, and any proposed new designs, with reference to “design cyclists” who come under the different ability levels defined under the National Standard curriculum. The cyclists say that it is totally unacceptable that the City Council should apparently be seeking to develop a cycling strategy in isolation from the advice that child and adult cyclists are being given with regard to using the roads.

The cyclists say the issue of consultants being able to show that they have necessary training is non-negotiable issue, because having untrained and unassessed consultants advising on cycling measures is viewed as equivalent to employing general traffic engineers who don’t possess driving licences or any independent verification of driving competence.

Survey on Walking/Cycling Infrastructure

Vulnerable road users at the Headford Rd. (Tesco) roundabout

Vulnerable road users at the Headford Rd. (Tesco) roundabout

The Galway City Community Forum has compiled an excellent survey on cycling and walking in Galway. Pleas fill in the survey here.

If you use a single user pc then use this link
If you use a shared pc then use this link

Members of the Galway City Community orum‘s transport group who met last week feel that this survey is much more relevant to the needs and concerns of pedestrians and cyclists than the survey recently promoted by the council’s consultants, and that it is more in line with the Forum’s transport policies.

However, we need to ensure that the survey is completed by a substantial number of local residents to ensure its authenticity before we submit and publicise the results. The results could put considerable pressure on the council to put proper cyclist/pedestrian infrastructure in place, especially if government funds are secured under the Smarter Travel initiative.

Because of the survey’s level of detail, a street-based campaign alone may not succeed: it is not something (as with a petition) that can be completed in 30 seconds from a stall on Shop Street on a Saturday afternoon. So we would be very grateful if you could set aside a few minutes to complete it and pass it on to friends and colleagues.

Galway cycling and walking news

3244345783_2378d5a9a2_m
A few links for your attention. The first is a very good piece in the Sentinel about a few of the things the Galway Cycling Campaign is lobbying for. Here’s an excerpt:

Roundabouts have become particularly hazardous for Galway cyclists. “To negotiate a roundabout, a cyclist has to be in the same traffic flow for entering or exiting, yet motorists are trying to overtake them by racing past. They are only delayed by a few seconds if they allow the cyclist to go in front. We’d appeal to motorists to give cyclists the space to get on and off the roundabout safely,” Mr Foran said. [That's Shane Foran, of the Galway Cycling Campaign and Cyclist.ie.]

Item no.2: Galway City and County Councils are planning a cycling and walking strategy, and have provided an online survey requesting feedback.

Finally, for your amusement, here’s a Flickr pool of bad cycle lanes.

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