As part of the Change Our Streets initiative, we are hoping to gather as many suggestions as possible from people looking to make changes to Galway City to make 2m social distancing easier, safer and nicer in Residential, Recreational, and Retail areas.
Please fill out the following form if you would like to see some specific changes…
Cycling advocates have written an Open Letter to Galway City Council offering ideas to begin a creative conversation to ‘Change Our Streets’ to quickly and cheaply make public spaces safer for all ages and abilities for the duration of the COVID-19 emergency.
Nearly 200 organisations and individuals have co-signed the Open Letter, including Galway Chamber, Westend Traders, hospital consultants, Engineers Ireland west region, Royal Institute of the Architects of Ireland west region, and residents associations. All five Galway West TDs have co-signed the Open Letter, as well as councillors and Senators.
This broad city-wide alliance, led by Galway Cycling Campaign, suggests many ways Galway City can be inspired by Milan’s Open Street scheme, where 35 km of road space will be reallocated to people walking and cycling. In addition, the city at the heart of Italy’s coronavirus outbreak will cut the speed limit to 30 km/h to reduce risk of road traffic collisions and make public spaces more pleasant for people walking.
The COVID-19 pandemic is the most significant public health threat many of us will experience. The advocates for cycling point out that many local authorities have already taken action, such as the installation of a new contra-flow cycling lane in Dublin’s Nassau Street, car-free zones by Fingal County Council, and the pedestrianisation of Cork’s Marina.
Kevin Jennings, chairperson of Galway Cycling Campaign outlined,
“In the absence of a vaccine or effective treatment for COVID-19, city life will only begin to thrive again if people feel safe to keep social distance. This is important for cocooners going for a stroll, parents with buggies, walking to the pharmacy, and anyone queuing for a coffee or outside a local shop. There is a narrow window of opportunity to ‘Change Our Streets’ while motorised traffic is at a lifetime low. We have high hopes for the ambition and action of Galway City.”
Molly Byrne, Professor of Psychology at NUI Galway, and member of the COVID-19 National Public Health Emergency Team (NPHET) Behavioural Change Subgroup said,
“People’s environments need to enable them to change their behaviours to adhere to social distancing in the months ahead. Urban design is critical to this. Choices that the City Council makes can encourage these new behaviours we need to adapt in order to survive the COVID-19 pandemic. Reallocating road space to people walking and cycling and reducing speed limits during the coronavirus pandemic are quick and cheap ways that Galway city can help keep people in good physical and mental health.”
Martina Callanan, spokesperson for Galway Cycling Campaign added,
“We have a unique opportunity to pilot new street arrangements, widen footpaths, and install temporary cycle lanes. These can be quick and cheap to do by using cones and planters. About 5,000 people use public transport in Galway. With the capacity less than 25% due to social distancing requirements, nearly 4,000 people will need an alternative way to move about the city. With almost 600,000 people on COVID-19 unemployment benefit, the humble bicycle offers an affordable transport option to many who may never have considered it since childhood. Together, we can trial low-cost car-free ideas that have worked elsewhere and ‘Change Our Streets’ in the city centre and residential areas for the duration of the pandemic.”
Galway’s streets and roads are witnessing more small children learning to cycle and families cycling together for exercise and fun. Looking to the future and returning to school in September, Eric Heneghan, age 7, a pupil of St Patrick’s Primary School, said, “I’d like to have a safe cycle path from the Coolough Road, Menlo, so my sisters and I can cycle to school in the city.”
Commenting on reduced road congestion, Dr Brian McNicholl, Consultant in Emergency Medicine, Galway University Hospital (GUH), said,
“We have seen a significant drop in car crash attendances at the Emergency Department at GUH as there are less cars on the road. Cycling reduces the risk of interpersonal transmission of COVID-19 in cars and public transport. In the long term it reduces risk of heart attack, cancer and stroke.”
Racing cyclist Paralympian, World Champion medallist, and civil engineer Eoghan Clifford added that ‘Change Our Streets’ will have significant benefits for people with disabilities, mobility issues, and older people.
“Poor transport and urban planning limits people with disabilities significantly. While still fit and able to walk with aids, I make decisions on moving around the city based on trying to avoid poor or narrow footpaths which can cause – have caused – me to fall or lose balance. I know of someone who needs to use an electric wheelchair and is frequently pushed onto the roads by cars parked on footpaths”.
Restaurants, cafés, and bars have already called for more car-free areas. Jp Mcmahon of ANIAR Restaurant and Tartare Café and Wine Bar, said,
“Restaurants, cafés and bars need more street space so people can ‘eat-on-the street’ and enjoy outdoor dining this summer while social distancing. Making more space to help restaurants and cafes to survive is paramount if we are to get through this pandemic together.”
People on bikes are taking their lives into their hands cycling on the Headford Road
Galway Cycling Campaign is calling for immediate improvements to the Headford Road during the coronavirus pandemic.
The advocates for everyday cycling welcome the Noteworthy in-depth investigation into cycling infrastructure, which was published today. It reveals that the Headford Road is ablackspot for bikes as there were 16 cyclist collisions, including two serious injuries, along a 1km length of this route, from 2005 to 2016.
Martina Callanan, spokesperson for Galway Cycling Campaign, and a resident of the Headford Road area, said, “This is a dangerous route for adults and children on bicycles making their way from home into town to work and school. The bike lane is essentially an extended piece of pavement. It is cut across by access roads to retail parks so you have to come off the path frequently where other traffic is given priority.”
She added, “The Headford Road is a congested main route from north Galway into the city and onto the university. Though Galway has the second highest percentage of commuters cycling in a city, you are mainly sharing the roads with other motor vehicle users and there are very few dedicated and segregated cycle tracks”.
Galway is a perfect city for bikes due to its size. During the coronavirus more people are taking up cycling as a way of transport and for exercise, and children are learning and enjoying this important life skill.
However, combining the poor infrastructure with speeding vehicles on mostly empty roads, it is a deeply unpleasant experience for people to cycle on the Headford Road right now.
Kevin Jennings, chair of Galway Cycling Campaign, proposes two temporary solutions.
“Galway City Council should temporarily reduce the four-lane Headford Road to two lanes for vehicle traffic, and reallocate the other two lanes for people on bicycles. This will do three things: give more space and better road conditions to cyclists, double the width of footpaths for pedestrians, and encourage motorists to slow down. The Council can do this for all four-lane roads across the city to make our roads safer and a more pleasant experience for people walking and cycling.“
He continued, “Secondly, the Council should temporarily reduce the speed limit to 30 km/h within the city. If a car moving at 50 km/h hits a person walking, there is a 50% chance that person will die. At 30 km/h, that same person has a 95% chance of surviving injuries.“
Ms Callanan pointed to recent ambitious plans announced by European cities. She said, “Last week Milan and Brussels announced even lower speed limits of 20 km/h for the summer during coronavirus. They both will reallocate road space to people on foot and on bikes. These two actions will give more space to people trying to social distance and stay well during a deadly pandemic. Galway should take inspiration from these cities and act immediately.”
As part of Census 2016 everyone in Ireland on Census night had where they live along with the location of their workplace, school or college recorded and processed. These data, along with people’s primary mode of transport (and other demographics) have been made publicly available on a neighbourhood-level.
Here we have mapped these data at a neighbourhood level in and around Galway City. This shows each area by the levels at which people begin their trip by bike to work or education (by origin). This can be displayed as the total number or as the percentage in a neighbourhood. We also show areas which are the destinationof peoples journey to work or education by similar summaries.
Other data include the total numbers of people travelling from an area to work, school or college, or travelling to an area. The percentage of households which have access to a car/van, can also be displayed.
Each location is clickable with more information, including the proportions of “Active transport” (walking and cycling) and “Private transport” (driving or being driven in a car/van/other private vehicle).
Example of how to read the map
In this example we choose checkbox
‘Cycling to destination (%),
In the resulting map can see that area marked 2 is the darkest shade.
This means that Salthill Village has the highest percentage of all trips to Salthill by Bike in Galway City.
This does not mean that Salthill has greater numbers cycling to it as a destination compared with Galway City Centre, it just means as a percentage of all trips it has a greater proportion relative to other modes.
The elipse shape(marked in light yellow) shows Galway Golf Club Course. So pretty obvious no Galway Golf Club Golfers take the Cargo Bike to the Golf Club :¬)
Your journey, your story?
What about where you live or where you work or go to school? Are they cycling hot-spots or cycling deserts? Let us know what it is like to cycle your daily journey in the comments, or get in touch via email ([email protected]) and maybe we could profile your neighbourhood? Could the cycling infrastructure be improved (yes, of course it’s Galway!) and if so how?
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.