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!

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.”