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 Get on your bike for National Bike Week Galway Advertiser, June 10, 2010. (Includes announcement of contra flow scheme)

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)

Galway cycling and walking news

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]

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.

For more like this, bookmark or subscribe to our Twitter feed, which is updated frequently with short snippets of links, news, tips and ideas. (You don’t have to join Twitter.)

“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…”).

Bike Lights Initiative GCC PRO – Update

Tuesday night the 26th February 2008 Bike Lights Initiative(had to be changed from Monday due to adverse weather conditions), in partnership with the Garda ‘bike squad’, went very well. There was good positive feedback from all participants. Cycling Campaign members distributed reflective vests and armbands. Thanks to everyone who took part.

Photo supplied by Simon. The Galway City Tribune photographer will also send us another photo which we will also post.