31/10/09 A Touch of Green amid the Galway Asphalt

Parking Day Justyna and Catherine

Parking Day Justyna and Catherine

On Saturday the 31st of October, a city centre car parking space was temporarily reclaimed for the people of Galway. What used to be a car parking space was transformed into a mini public park to celebrate Galway’s first ever Park(ing) Day.

The aim of Park(ing) Day is to convert a single metered parking space into a temporary public park in an area of Galway City that is underserved by public open space. The objective is to creatively explore how our urban public space is allocated and used. Inexpensive kerb-side parking results in increased traffic & less space in the city centre. This hinders the movement of pedestrians, cyclists and motor vehicles, adds to the level of CO2 emissions and prevents the creation of a healthy, vibrant urban human habitat. Park(ing) Day is about re-imagining the possibilities of the metropolitan landscape.

Galway’s newest green space was offered (and used) as a space to sit down to have a chat with friends, read the newspaper or simply to watch the world go by. The Galway Cycling Campaign also provided muffins and Justyna’s famous “bicycle shaped” cookies!

Bicycle cookies

Bicycle cookies

The parking meter was always running and contributions were taken from passers by to feed the meter and make sure the new “Park” was paying its way!

September ’09 Cycling Campaign marks mobility week with competition in Uni

GCC Bike Stand Sep 09

GCC Bike Stand Sep 09

On the 24th of September the GCC marked mobility week ’09 with an “edutainment” event in NUI, Galway.  There was a competition using the information signs from the summer bicycle treasure hunt which were arrayed along the main concourse.  (Reputedly the longest enclosed space in the country). University vice president Keith Warnock, sponsored two bicycles worth EU250 each and mountain trail sponsored some bike accessories.   To enter the draw participants had to answer questions on measures to promote cycling and improve safety. The information signs covered the usual suspects: Roundabouts, one-way streets, permeability, cycle-parking, 30kph zones and so on.

The stand was manned in shifts by a team of GCC members: Indiana, James, Amy, Martin, Justyna, Oisin, Andrew, Catherine, Fionnuala.

The winners of the competition were Jennifer O’Grady, Eimear Tuohy and Brendan Dineen.

Indie and Catherine fight off last minute entrants as they try to take the stand down

Indie and Catherine fight off last minute entrants as they try to take the stand down

The event  really got the message out there and was an event worth repeating we have had more people express interest in getting involved as a result.   Big thanks go from the committee to all who helped out.  Particular thanks go to Indie Olbert who was our contact with the college and made it happen on the day.

Mobility week bike winners with college VP Keith Warnock

Mobility week bike winners

“Cycling Motorists” – a new survey

A study by the UK-based Institute of Advanced Motorists indicates that 45% of motorists cycle occasionally or regularly, and suggests that there is great potential for more motorists to begin cycling or to cycle more than they already do. A spokesperson for the IAM said: “Millions of motorists are already taking to the roads on two wheels. The IAM study identifies the huge potential for getting them to cycle more, and for getting motorists who know how to ride to take up cycling again.”

A summary of the findings is online here, and the study “Cycling Motorists” is available here (PDF, 2.35 MB; to download: right-click, “Save Link As…” or “Save Target As…”).

Impromptu meeting in NUI, Galway: Tuesday, 6 pm

Hello all, we will be having a meeting on Tues. 18 August at 6 pm in Smokey Joe’s on the Arts/Science Concourse in NUI, Galway. It shouldn’t last more than an hour. The aim is to get a handle on, and make a few decisions about, upcoming issues and events, such as Smarter Travel funding, Mobility Week 2009, and the proposed Galway city cycling strategy.

There is great potential in these initiatives, but unless we get in there with good information and a bit of groundwork, this potential could be wasted. Many a development is well-intentioned but ultimately unhelpful and even dangerous. Familiar faces and newcomers are equally welcome to come along and offer help and suggestions.

Galway Cycling Campaign is now on Twitter

A few days ago the Galway Cycling Campaign joined Twitter. If you’re unfamiliar with the service, there is a useful introduction here, and further information on Wikipedia. The London Cycling Campaign and the CTC already put the technology to good use.

If you’re on Twitter you can follow the Galway Cycling Campaign here; you can also visit our page without having to join. Either way, there will inevitably be some overlap with the material that gets circulated to our email subscribers – but Twitter brings its own benefits. We’ll be using it to distribute information, tips, and news, and to interact with other cyclists and interested parties both locally and around the world.

Bike Week closes with fun-filled afternoon by the Corrib

On Sunday, the Dangan sports ground at NUI, Galway and the canals through the city were overrun by a 98-strong horde of apprentice cyclists and their parents. The Galway Cycling Campaign was hosting the “Cycling Treasure Hunt for all the Family”, the closing event of Bikeweek 2009 in Galway. Children and their parents had a chance not only to enjoy a scenic cycle route, but also to have a fun challenge in the process.

The younger cyclists on the “Explorer Course” had a traffic-free route where they had ten challenges, including counting the parked bicycles, learning to lock bikes securely, learning to use their brakes, a “slow race” and a “winding road” to test their handling skills. The older Adventurers met these challenges and took a longer route down the canals to South Park. Along the way, the “Adventurers” found out about ways to make towns more cyclist friendly, with different stations set up highlighting the potential for cycling in Galway, and different aspects of cycle-friendly town planning and road design.

As the Adventurers and Explorers returned to Dangan, there was a bike maintenance session with brakes fixed on the spot; discount vouchers were available for more complex repairs. When all were back by 4pm there was a draw for prizes. The winners included the Breathnach, Wall, Crampton, Hardiman and Shimuzu families who all won bikes worth €250 sponsored by the Department of Transport. The Regan family won a bike worth €250, sponsored by Mountain Trail Bikes, while Max Chivers won a helmet worth €50, sponsored by Nigel’s Cycles in Liosban. The Higgins family won two sets of bicycle lights, and Lexi Ensor (aged 4) also won lights. Ursula Crampton (aged 11) won a lock, repair kit and reflective bicycle clips, as did Siobhan and Mark Regan Junior from Moycullen.

The volunteer marshals from the Galway Cycling Campaign, Volunteer Centre and NUI, Galway Alive programme were overwhelmed by the enthusiasm of the participants, and everybody took advantage of the sunny weather for some old fashioned outdoor fun. The Galway Cycling Campaign would like to thank NUI, Galway for hosting the event, the Department of Transport for the funding, Galway City Council for their kind assistance, and all the volunteers who generously gave their time and worked so hard to make it such a fine event. We are also very grateful to the Garda bicycle unit and the Red Cross, who provided support on the day. Most of all we would like to thank all the cyclists, young and not so young, who took part in the treasure hunt.

Cycling Treasure Hunt for all the Family!

The Cycling Treasure Hunt, a family event for National Bike Week, takes place on:

Sunday 21 June from 12 noon to 4 pm.
Registration from 12 noon to 1 pm.
Location: NUI, Galway Sports Ground Pavilion in Dangan.

Five bikes to be won! Discover facts about cycling in Galway and get entered into a draw. Win spot prizes.

Your chance to teach the adults about the potential for cycling in Galway!

Bring your parents, bring your teachers, bring your aunts and uncles!

Show them how they could organise the city so that kids could cycle to school and adults could cycle to work!

There are two courses on offer:

The Explorer Course will be based entirely off-road around the NUI, Galway Campus. It will suit small children – parents can even walk with children on their bikes.

The Adventurer Course will run all the way to Mutton Island/South Park via the Canals. Total length is 10 km. This course is better suited to groups entirely on bicycles. Some on-road travel at University Road and Dominick Street/Claddagh will be more suited to families with older children or teenagers. A map of NUI, Galway Campus is available here.

Further information from:
Galway Cycling Campaign,
Tel. 087 9935993.
A member of cyclist.ie, Ireland’s national cycling lobby group.

Participants enter at their own risk. Under 18s must be accompanied by an adult.

10% Bike Repair Discount. “Download the PDF, Print and bring to one of Galway’s Bike Shops (don’t forget to bring your Bike)”

Entitles bearer to 10% off bike maintenance/repair at participating bike
shops for the month of June 2009. One voucher per customer/

Interesting FACTS about cycling in Galway(Census 2006):

In Galway, 44% of workers, 56% of 2nd-level students and
71% of 3rd-level students commute less than 5km (or a
distance reachable in 20-25 minutes by bike).
Between 2002 and 2006 cycling by Galway workers grew
by 51%. Cycling accounts for 4.4% of city commuter
journeys (the highest level in the country).
Between 2002 and 2006 cycling by Galway third level
students grew by 38%.

Meeting minutes 11 May 2009

Venue: Galway Social Space, 24 Middle St.

Present: Shane, Tiernan, Indy, Mairéad, Catherine, Robert, Stan.

Apologies: Oisín, Simon, Kristin.

1. National Cycle Policy Framework
2. National Bike Week

Note: The prominence and proximity of National Bike Week (14–21 June 2009) means that it has been given priority over other items, which are either discussed in the context of Bike Week or not discussed at this meeting, with one exception (see (1) below).

1. The Irish government launched its National Cycle Policy Framework some weeks ago. Those at the meeting who had read it or looked through it agreed that it was an impressive and aspirational document, but that it had obvious drawbacks: it contains no figures, no dates, and no deadlines. Whether good intentions can be turned into policy and practice is a big unknown, but the document’s publication is definitely a positive step by the government towards genuine promotion of cycling. Some of the aims described in the document were mentioned and discussed.

2. Ireland’s first ever Bike Week takes place from 14 to 21 June. The Galway Cycling Campaign does not have much time or resources to prepare for it, but is nonetheless determined to do as much as possible for it. Shane and other representatives have been in contact with the City Council and other bodies, but the Volvo Ocean Race has taken centre stage for a while. A comparison with Dublin is instructive, not just in terms of organisational power: Phoenix Park is to be closed to traffic, an event management company has been hired, and a cycling officer has been preparing for Bike Week for months. Our financial and personal resources are more modest.

Tiernan of Green Schools said that the Green Flag has moved on to Travel, so there is now more of an emphasis on cycling and other alternative forms of transport. Cycle parking is to be launched in several schools, and projects such as Cycling On Wednesday (COW) and Beauty and the Bike are also being pushed. He acknowledged that the fear factor – the perception of road danger – was a considerable obstacle for some parents (more on this below). Robert asked whether any teachers were championing cycling.

Wednesday of Bike Week is “Bike to Work” day. Shane pointed out that for many people this is not something that can be decided on or prepared for on a whim, or even a few days beforehand – there needs to be an information campaign, ideally to include the local media, with a few weeks’ lead-in to give potential participants time to get their bikes checked for safety and roadworthiness. Some cyclists might not have cycled for some weeks, months or even years, and will need time to practise basic skills off- and on-road.

The Galway Cycling Map project is coming along well. Stan and Shane gave a quick summary, mentioning the online version being plotted with Google Maps but focusing on the physical maps. Galway City and several county towns have had their streets colour coded as per Warrington’s scheme. Shane and Oisín have sourced map plans and have entered and organised as much data as possible. Some town maps, e.g. Tuam, need local input. Stan has written text for the maps, some of it adapted from the Galway Cycling Campaign’s popular “Share the Road” leaflets.

Sunday 21 June concludes Bike Week, and the Galway Cycling Campaign is hoping to have a family treasure hunt that afternoon. A mostly off-road route has been planned, from Dangan through the university, down the canal, out by the Claddagh and South Park as far as Mutton Island. This event was discussed in detail by all at the meeting, since there was a lot to consider and not a lot of time to prepare. Mairéad asked if this kind of event had been done before. Shane said it hadn’t – at least not in Galway; Tiernan said that something similar had been done in Cork. Apparently Patrick St. was closed off for it.

Catherine suggested having refreshments on offer, especially for the children taking part. This was an excellent idea that hadn’t yet come up. Tiernan spoke of a cyclist with a smoothie-making bike; he also suggested balloons and face painting. All such ideas were enthusiastically received, as they would contribute to the fun and festival feel of the event. Prizes were discussed – different prizes would be needed for different ages. Children under a certain age would need to be accompanied by a parent or adult. But what age?

A code of conduct was proposed, to be signed at registration, containing instructions such as “No racing”, “Yield to pedestrians”, etc. Catherine asked if we had permission from NUIG, liability insurance, etc. Shane said that we needed feedback from NUIG about this as soon as possible, and suggested that Catherine, Mairéad and Indy form a subcommittee to tick the NUIG boxes. Indy thought of someone she could ask about some of these matters. Indy also pointed out that there were tricky parts on the route, such as a narrow pass between rocks along Dangan. Catherine asked whether there was or would be a special map for the treasure hunt.

Catherine said that we should have bikes for people who don’t have bikes, or don’t have usable bikes, or would have difficulty bringing bikes to the event. This was immediately agreed on, and provoked some discussion. Bikes to be used on the day would need to be ordered in advance if possible. Catherine also asked about funding. Shane said that there was national funding, but that locally it was unclear. Financial support from the Council was unpredictable, as last year’s Mobility Week showed.

A list of potential volunteers needs to be drawn up, and an ad hoc media blitz should be done, to include Galway Bay FM, posters, emails, local press and so on. Catherine volunteered to approach GBFM, and there was some discussion about what a daily 2-minute slot could include. A different skill subject each day, for example, or local tips and routes. Robert suggested that a willing radio employee could cycle for a week and report on air each day, hopefully with positive progress regarding his/her skill level and experience on the road. Tiernan concurred, adding that when parents began walking their children to school their first reaction was of fear or apprehension, projected from their in-car perception of traffic danger, but that they soon came to love the walking experience. Tiernan added that the Green Schools could spread the word through participating schools.

It’s obvious that we need volunteers – as many as possible – to help out on the day, as well as official support. Robert said that a competitive approach could help, especially to get businesses involved. Shane agreed but said that time and resources might preclude this. Shane said that he would set up an email list for everyone involved in Bike Week.

Meeting ends.