An August Bank Holiday with a different spin – a gentle social cycle from Renmore to Roscam hosted by the Galway Cycling Campaign
CycleCoffeeCake pedalled away to the Galway city east for the August Bank Holiday with new and returning faces joining the group.
The route was led by Dan Clabby, Treasurer of Galway Cycling Campaign and a local, who gave shared some local history as the route travelled from The Huntsman Inn, down the Black Path to Lakeshore Drive for stunning views of Lough Atalia, a stop at Ballyloughane Beach, and on to a mostly unknown short lane between Lurgan Park and the Dublin Road.
The direct route from Moneenageisha junction to Supermacs on the Old Dublin Road near the entrance to Merlin Park University Hospital is 2.1km on a busy arterial route, which is unpleasant to cycle. It includes an identified bicycle blackspot for collisions and injuries.
The quiet route that CycleCoffeeCake explored shows that it possible to make this journey on quiet calm streets away from the noisy main road with buses, trucks and vans.
After a brief dismount to walk the footpaths in front of Galway Crystal, the group continued to the Rosshill Road, a quieter road which connects to the Old Dublin Road and the coastal route to Oranmore.
The group returned along most of the same route, only changing after Lurgan Park to continue by the Kingfisher sports centre, Renmore Scouts Den, Renmore Playing Fields, Scoil Chaitríona primary school, the Galway Hospice and Church of St Oliver Plunkett, to the Full Duck Café on Renmore Road.
The next CycleCoffeeCake will take place as part of Galway Community Pride on Sunday 16 August 2020 in the city centre.
Galway needs to follow the example of Wales and decrease its speed limits for urban areas from 50km/h to 30km/h. All welcome to our online public meeting with Gwenda Owen of Cycling UK- Wales.
Galway city council is currently in the process of a public consultation about revising speed limit bye-laws throughout the city and Kevin Jennings, chairperson of Galway Cycling Campaign, believes that Galway should be inspired by the Welsh Government’s report that is recommending 30km/h replace 50km/h as the default speed limit on urban roads throughout the country and should embrace the benefits of slower speeds.
If the legislation is passed, Wales will become the first country in the world to reduce the default speed limit for urban areas to 20mph.
He said: “If someone is struck by a vehicle at 30km/h, their chance of survival is up to 97 per cent. This decreases with every kilometre driven faster.
There is also evidence that injuries are reduced when 30km/h limits are introduced and that 30km/h limits lead to more walking and cycling and lower noise levels. It’s more important now than ever to have safer streets and spaces for walking and cycling.
“A lower citywide speed limit would be life-changing because slower speeds will improve the places where we live, work, and go to school. We saw during lockdown that people were encouraged to walk and cycle more because they felt safer doing so.
“We look forward to working with Galway City Council to support lower speeds limits. We are happy to see public support for citywide lower speed limits from An Garda Chief Superintendent Tom Curley and chair of the Joint Policing Committee, Cllr Níall McNelis.”
On Friday 7 August, between 7.30pm and 9.30pm, the advocacy group will host its monthly meeting online via Zoom with Gwenda Owen of Cycling UK – Wales the special guest speaker.
Owens has played a significant role creating public support for the benefits of slower speeds in cities, towns, and villages by working closely with grassroots and community organisations and sat on the Welsh Government’s Walking and Cycling Action Plan Steering Group, which produced the Walking and Cycling Strategy for Wales in 2014.
Spokesperson for Galway Cycling Campaign Martina Callanan said; “The majority of our primary and secondary schools, primary care centres, community centres, and sports grounds are in our suburbs, outside the inner city zone, as well as Galway University Hospital, Bon Secours and Merlin Park hospital campuses, and GMIT.
“These are places that many people arrive at by foot and bike. Lower speed limits will make it safer, healthier, and much more pleasant, to choose active travel.”
Join us this Saturday 18 July 2020 for CycleCoffeeCake at 10.30am from Nimmo’s Pier through our vibrant city centre and ending at the wonderful Ciarlantini of Woodquay. This is a gentle inclusive cycle for new or nearly-new adults on bikes. All ages and abilities are welcome. We particularly welcome mams who want some confidence before cycling with their children to school in September. Please register – we have limited numbers and need details for contact tracing.
CycleCoffeeCake is a new initiative of the Galway Cycling Campaign and aims to encourage new, nearly-new, and returning cyclers to hop on their saddles and join together in gentle, inclusive cycles around Galway city.
The event particularly welcomes women on bikes, especially mums who want to get more confident cycling around the city before the school year begins, and women of all ages and abilities who are returning to cycling. The bike boom of 2020 is a result of these two groups buying bikes in Galway, and indeed across Ireland.
Galway Cycling Campaign hopes to encourage those who want to become more comfortable cycling and those who would enjoy some support as they gain confidence in cycling around the city.
Please register for this Saturday’s event for contract tracing purposes. Numbers are limited. People who arrive on the day without signing-up will not be accommodated.
Saturday 18 July 2020 10.30am – 12 noon Meet: Claddagh Hall, Nimmo’s Pier Route: Galway city centre routes, detours, things to watch out for, and bike parking spots Coffee & Cake: Cafe Bar Ciarlantini, Woodquay
The inaugural CycleCoffeeCake event took place last month and the sounds of chats and bell chimes was heard as the group cycled from the Claddagh Hall to Blackrock before enjoying coffee and cake sponsored by Kevin Nugent and Ground & Co in Salthill.
CycleCoffeeCake sponsor: Bar Italia Ciarlantini of Woodquay
This month, CycleCoffeeCake will again start at 10.30am at the Claddagh Hall and explore routes around the city centre, show useful detours away from major routes, and point out bike parking. The social cycle will end in Woodquay at Bar Italia Ciarlantini.
Lolita of Ciarlantini will sponsor coffee and cake for the first 15 registrations.
Martina Callanan, spokesperson for Galway Cycling Campaign, said, “Cycling is an easy, fun activity for people of all ages and abilities. We want to show newbies and novices safe and pleasant bike trails across the city that end at local cafés where we can enjoy coffee, cake and chats.”
“As we kickstart the economy, we want to support our friends and neighbours who own local businesses, especially those that have safe and secure bicycle parking nearby,” she added.
Kevin Jennings, chairperson of the Galway Cycling Campaign, commented, “As we look ahead to schools reopening in a few weeks, we want to help parents, particularly mams, feel more comfortable cycling their kids to school, especially if they do not have a local Cycle Bus. CycleCoffeeCake is a great way for adults to meet with others who feel the same way and to share tips from more experienced people on bikes.”
As the route will be on roads shared with buses, vans and cars in the city centre, numbers will be limited and only those who have registered in advance will be able to participate.
Keep an eye on our social media @GalwayCycling on Twitter and Facebook.
COULD IT REALLY be that Santa has arrived six months and one week ahead of schedule? In the programme for government, we are told that €1 million euro a day, every day, will be invested in safer cycling and walking during the lifetime of the next government.
This Opinion piece first appeared in TheJournal.ie on Thursday 25 June, 2020.
Not so long ago, buses, vans and Ford Cortinas vroomed through the towns and cities of Ireland. Just two decades later, we hope to move ever closer to safe strolling, an abundance of food offerings, street conversations, and bike bells. Investment in cycling and walking in the programme for government is a smart and progressive deal for transport, health and revitalising town centres.
Hopefully, this time next year, we will have spent €360 million on cycling and pedestrian infrastructure, more than has ever been spent before. Investing almost €1 million a day, every day, for the lifetime of the programme for government means that people in Irish cities, towns, villages and suburbs will enjoy safer, more vibrant and attractive streets.
With an emphasis on quality and oversight, these efforts, if agreed and implemented, could make the places we live better for people, business, the environment and our sense of community.
Cycling is the solution to a myriad of intimately intertwined social and economic problems of congestion, public health, and quality of life. And since cycling does not produce emissions, it reduces air pollution and carbon as well.
And as many of us rediscovered recently due to the coronavirus lockdown, cycling is social, fun, and inexpensive.
Cycling doesn’t make sense for everyone and that’s ok. But we want to get those within cycling distance to the places they need to be on a daily basis to feel cycling is a very real and very safe option.
The bike boom of 2020
The bike boom of 2020 is a global phenomenon. Bicycles are sold as fast as they are assembled. People are waiting for bike orders to be delivered in August. Bike repair services are rammed.
With the absence of HGVs, vans, and the school commute during the lockdown, unoccupied roads turned into urban parks with families and small crews of happy teenagers strolling, cycling, and scooting. Empty car parks became cycle training grounds for very young children. We have found that women, especially, felt a little braver when it came to cycling in this time:
“For the first time in 12 years,” said Anne Bedos of Café Rothar in Dublin’s Phibsborough, “we are selling more bikes to women than to men.”
More space, less speed
Everyone is a pedestrian, whether they’re standing at the bus stop or walking to their car. A safe street is where you’d let your five-year-old play with peace of mind. According to Prof. Kevin Leyden of NUI Galway, ‘‘If we want to get more people cycling, we need to make cycling feel safer. Key to that is slowing the speed of cars and providing a cycling infrastructure that reduces the probability that cyclists will be killed or injured by motorists.”
If this programme for government goes ahead, towns with smart travel strategies will have funding and expertise to develop comprehensive networks of safe paths and attractive lanes connecting commuters to their workplaces and children and teenagers on safe routes to their schools.
Residential areas need to be conveniently connected to retail and recreational spaces. Protected footpaths and cycle lanes need to be considered as ‘mobility lanes’ and be comfortable for people using wheelchairs, adapted bicycles and adult tricycles.
The seven new Regional Cycle Design Offices promised in the programme would expand and enhance the expertise available to support local authorities. Every local authority would be supported by a Cycling Officer. Along with the funding, this emphasis on expertise and quality infrastructure would be a game-changer.
The commitment to reduce speed limits doesn’t grab headlines, yet slower speeds and their enforcement are a huge part of what it takes to get more people cycling and walking.
Mairéad Forsythe of Love 30, Ireland’s campaign for lower speed limits, says, “Reducing speed limits in towns, villages and cities to 30 km/h will make our roads safer for people walking and cycling. It lowers the risk of collisions and the risk of injuries. Most important of all, slower streets make our neighbourhoods more pleasant places to live, shop, and work, and for children to play.”
We want more people cycling, and more types of people cycling. Measuring only fatalities and injuries is crude. We need ambitious targets for children cycling to primary and secondary school, in particular teenage girls. In Ireland, just 2.1% of teenagers cycle to secondary school. In The Netherlands, that figure is 75%.
Lessons from abroad
Fianna Fáil, Fine Gael and the Green Party have clearly incorporated international evidence into the programme for government. From Seattle to Sydney, cities are being radically reshaped in favour of people walking and cycling.
The Belgian port city of Ghent implemented a light, quick and cheap traffic circulation plan in 2017 and witnessed a 60% rise in cycle use. It reached its target of 35% cycling last year, 13 years earlier than planned for. There has been a 17% increase in restaurant and bar startups.
Before coronavirus, the Mayor of Paris unveiled her plans to transform Paris into a ‘15-minute city’ of self-sufficient neighbourhoods with grocery shops, parks, sports facilities, and schools just a walk or bike-ride away.
Since then, Mayor Anne Hidalgo has urged ‘those who can’ to cycle plus announced a €300 million investment to install up to 650 km of new temporary and permanent bicycle lanes. This is about three times the length of the total Paris Métro network.
Return on investment
European research last year showed that every 1-kilometre drive costs the public purse €0.11 in terms of congestion, pollution, and time. Every 1-kilometre cycle brings a benefit of €0.18. Walking is even better. Each 1-kilometre walk adds €0.37 to economy and society in terms of improved public health, tourism, and quality of life.
More than 23,000 people live within a 10 minutes cycle of Carlow Post Office, for instance. Over half of all journeys by adults in Ireland are 6 km or less, according to the Central Statistics Office. This is a comfortable distance on a bike for most people – providing you have a bike and a safe route to go where you want to go.
Get bikes, get cycling
We need to help people purchase bikes and get cycling. The Cycle to Work Scheme is a good start. The same wide access for e-car grants must be made possible for bike grants. New help to buy e-bikes and cargo bikes is particularly welcome. Bike share schemes should be expanded and include e-bikes and e-scooters.
“Sharing schemes are low cost and e-bikes help cities reduce congestion and meet climate change targets,” says Colin Barry, founder of Brite Mobility, Galway. “The motor’s assistance level attracts users who would have been afraid of the exertion of cycling before.”
So, what happens now?
Immediately, each local authority will be mandated to assess where road space can be re-allocated for walking and cycling. We want plans to be audited for quality and involve input from local communities.
Already, we have heard government radio ads asking us to cycle and walk where possible. Children need to be able to park their bikes at sports grounds.
Like wildflowers, we expect to see bike parking sprouting up everywhere – outside local shops, cafés, retail parks, parks, and beaches. Wherever bikes are tied to poles, there should be bike parking.
Bikes are good for business
Local businesses can request installation of quality bicycle stands from their local authorities. Customers by bike are local and loyal. Cycle parking delivers five times the retail spend per square metre than the same area of car parking, according to Transport for London research.
Safe cycling for all
By this time next year, I hope we will have experienced a major cultural shift in transport policy, in moving people safely and sustainably around our towns, villages and cities. Cycling will be seen as the solution to congestion, a key contributor to better public health, and a powerful tool in developing a better quality of life for all of our people.
Cycling has arrived and there’s no going back. Let’s pedal onwards to our new normal.
Martina Callanan is the spokesperson for Galway Cycling Campaign and a member of the Executive Council of Cyclist.ie – the Irish Cycling Advocacy Network, helps organise CycleCoffeeCake for women and novices on bikes, works in strategic communications, and tweets at @MartinaCallanan and @GalwayCycling.
He said: “We are delighted that the two principles of the ‘Change Our Streets’ initiative for More Space and Less Speed are at the heart of our city’s plans to get Galway moving and thriving again as restrictions begin to lift.
We outlined our desire for More Space and Less Seed in our Open Letter to Galway City Council Chief Executive on Wednesday 7 May 2020, which was co-signed by over 200 organisations and individuals, including many representatives of local businesses, community groups, sports clubs and health professionals.”
He continued: “We are heartened to hear that the Framework will be a live and dynamic document, and that it prioritises active travel modes of cycling and walking. Walking and cycling are fast and affordable ways to travel short distances, and exercise is vital for our mental and physical health during the Covid-19 pandemic.”
Martina Callanan, spokesperson for Galway Cycling Campaign, said: “We welcome the statement that Community Wardens will place ‘particular emphasis…on enforcement of illegal and unauthorised parking that impairs mobility, such as parking on footpaths, yellow lines, loading bays, taxi and bus designated areas and disabled parking bays.’ There can be no tolerance of inconsiderate behaviour which places cocooners, parents with buggies and small children at risk of stepping out into the road instead of continuing on footpaths.
She added: “We welcome the provision of extra bike parking and expect all will be safe, secure and sheltered. People on bikes are good for local business. Having a bike parking outside your shop or business means space for potentially ten customers right outside your door, and bike parking helps keep your shopfront visible.”
The letter to the City Mobility Team pointed out that mobility obstacles and touch points should be eliminated where possible, for example kissing gates, beg buttons at pedestrian crossings, and narrow stiles.
Actions to reduce speed should also consider measures to temporarily alter road design and provide traffic calming.
Kevin Jennings concluded: “We look forward to engaging with the City Mobility Team in the weeks and months ahead to create a safer Galway for all ages and all abilities during coronavirus. As they start their work this week we say, Pedal on!”
Galway Cycling Campaign is a voluntary group which represents cyclists in Galway. We promote cycling as a common and accessible form of transport with the goal of creating a more liveable Galway for everyone.