Cycling Officers should be appointed before new city development plan begins

Cycling Officers need to be quickly appointed to Galway City and County Councils according to the Galway Cycling Campaign, who has written to both councils seeking a timeline for the hiring process. 

The Programme for Government emphasises expertise and quality in the €360 million annual cycling infrastructure spend. It promises to appoint a Cycling Officer to every local authority, a role which has yet undefined “real powers”. 

The Cycling Officer in each council executive is to ensure that each local authority “adopts a high-quality cycling policy, carries out an assessment of their roads network and develops cycle network plans.”

Cécile Robin, deputy chairperson of the Galway Cycling Campaign, says that the Cycling Officer should be appointed at a senior level with the ability to oversee budgets and have authority to ensure local authorities implement national cycling policy and design guidance to the highest standard.

“Our Roads departments are filled with talented engineers. The Cycling Officers should have a complementary skillset, such as in urban geography, sociology or psychology. The council’s ambition should be to create liveable neighbourhoods that prioritise people who walk, use wheelchairs, cycle or scoot,” said Ms Robin.

The appointment is particularly urgent because the process for the new Galway City Development Plan begins in January. 

“We need an expert in sustainable safety to be at the heart of developing our city,” said Ms Robin. “The 15-minute city is the ambition of Paris, where everything you need should be within a 15 minute walk or cycle of your front door such as local shops, cafés, schools, and even work. To paraphrase a great Irish sports commentator, neither France nor Paris are known as cycling strongholds.”

“Paris is adding another 650km of ‘corona cycleways’ to it’s 700km network to enable people to keep cycling after lockdown. Our city needs a senior decision maker within the council executive to champion active travel like walking, cycling and scooting from people’s front doors to wherever they need to go on a regular basis, like school, work, the GP, shops, and restaurants. We are already a cycling city, second only to Dublin in terms of people cycling to school and work.”

Cycling Officers are to work closely with new Regional Cycle Design Offices, as promised in the Programme for Government. 

“The 2009 National Cycle Policy Framework, introduced when Fianna Fáil and the Greens were last in government, continues to have good guidelines for people-centred planning and sustainable development. It has ambitious national guidelines to enable cycling within urban and rural areas. This needs to be embedded within the new city development plan, and a Cycling Officer should have the power to do so,” concluded Ms Robin.

‘Crazy’ 80kmph speed limit outside Boleybeg primary school

Locals have expressed concerns over proposals by Galway City Council to set a “crazy” 80kmph speed limit outside the gate of a Galway City primary school.

St Joseph’s primary school and Naíonra Cháit

In the draft speed limit bye-laws, the council has designated all of Rahoon Road west of Clybaun Road as 80kmph, including the section outside the site of Scoil Naomh Sheosaimh primary school and naíonra in Boleybeg. This would make it the only school in Galway City with an 80kmph speed limit outside the school gate. 

Neil O’Leary, parent of a child at the naíonra, said, “It’s crazy that Galway City Council would even consider making this section of road 80kmph. There are hundreds of children arriving at the school gates here every day. Yet the bicycle rack remains empty as parents choose to drive to school because it feels safer, and who could blame them? If a child is hit by a vehicle whizzing by at 80kmph, a socially distant funeral is all but guaranteed. At 30kmph, that same child has a 90% chance of surviving and returning to the playground.”

“I cycle my son to and from here most days and I know other parents would like to do the same, or walk with their kids, but don’t feel safe enough to do so. A lower speed limit would make for a much less hostile road environment, help attract more parents out of their cars and fill up the bike-rack at the school” said Mr O’Leary. 

Public consultation on the proposed speed limit bye-laws is open until 16th September. Any concerns or proposals to Galway City Council can be made at

Cycle Bus recognised as international changemakers

The Galway Cycle Bus is delighted to announce it has been invited to join the ChangeX community. The Knocknacarra-based initiative promotes active travel for school children by experienced volunteers, parents and teachers escorting children to school by bike at various ‘pick up’ points in housing estates en route from Cappagh Road to Knocknacarra NS and Gaelscoil Mhic Amhlaigh near Millers Lane.

ChangeX provides turnkey solutions for companies investing in communities worldwide. It is a platform that gets proven ideas and funding directly to anyone ready to lead impactful projects in their communities. The Galway Cycle Bus joins Irish Men’s Sheds and Playworks Ireland in the ChangeX community. 

The Galway Cycle Bus’s step-by-step 51-page guide to creating a cycle bus has been used by families and schools across Ireland from Dublin to Leitrim and Limerick. It is now available online to an international community. 

‘We’re thrilled to have been asked to join the ChangeX platform and we hope that other communities all over Ireland and abroad will use our Cycle Bus experience and  to create similar initiatives facilitating more active travel for primary school children,” said Alan Curran, parent, teacher, and co-organiser. “We also welcome financial and in-kind support from local businesses.”

“Cycling to school with your classmates and neighbours is an ordinary thing yet absolutely fun. We start off every day brimming with joy. It’s just great,” said Neasa Bheilbigh, also a local parent, teacher, and co-organiser. “Our Galway Cycle Bus continues to grow and it’s wonderful that from now it will bring even more communities across the world together.” 

Lower citywide speed limit makes it safer for children to get to school on their own fuel

Tonight, Thursday 3 September Galway Cycling Campaign will host its regular monthly meeting online from 7.30 to 9.30pm on Zoom. Top of the agenda are discussions of safe routes to school and the Galway Cycle Bus, and the ongoing citywide review of speed limits. 

Galway Cycle Bus was established in 2018 in Knocknacarra, Galway

The group of Galway residents welcomes the proposed speed reduction to 30kmph within the inner city centre. This will make it safer for children and students to access city centre schools and colleges by foot, bike, scooter and wheelchair. 

They believe that all schools and educational institutions across the city should have the same protection from traffic. 

“Most of our children go to primary and secondary schools in the suburbs where the standard speed limit on the school road and approach roads is 50kmph. If one of my children walking or cycling to school is hit by a car moving at that speed, which doesn’t feel fast to a person driving, she’ll have a 50:50 chance of surviving. At 30kmph, her chances are 90%. It’s that simple,” says Kevin Jennings, Chairperson. 

He also points out that reducing speed limits on roads close to places of education will make it safer and more pleasant for students to walk, wheel, cycle or scoot to school, college, NUI Galway, and GMIT. Slower speeds reduce noise pollution, fuel emissions, and air pollution.

“Parents biggest – and reasonable – fear preventing them from encouraging independent travel in their children and teenagers is the behaviour of road users,” said Mr Jennings. “I understand this too. My five-year-old started school last week and I chose to drive her there. She’s well able to cycle the distance but I didn’t feel safe to cycle with her on busy roads. She was upset – she sees her bigger brother and sister cycle and wants to be like them.”

Dublin City Council is planning for a 30kmph speed limit almost everywhere within the M50 to improve road safety and reduce violent death. It received over 2,000 submissions during its public consultation. 

Dublin City Council said that an examination of international experience and the existing 30km/h limited areas in the city “recorded only positive outcomes in terms of this road safety objective”. Residents already living in a designated 30km/h area, signalled continued support for retaining the limit. 

“Dublin is showing us that with leadership from council and elected councillors, it’s possible to change our streets to create safer, healthier, and happier streets,” said Martina Callanan, deputy chairperson. 

“We expect our council and public representatives will share Dublin’s ambition to keep people of all ages and abilities safe as we walk to the local shops and cafés or cycle, scoot or wheel to work and school. If Dublin can lower speeds and build cycle paths and coastal mobility lanes, so can we,” concluded Ms Callanan. 

Also on tonight’s agenda are the Change Our Streets Campaign, the recent announcement of Active Travel grants to both City and County councils as part of the July Stimulus, Galway-Dublin Greenway, and bike parking. 

All members and guests are welcome to attend. Email [email protected] to receive the Zoom meeting link. 

Active Travel funds welcome

Galway Cycling Campaign welcomes stimulus funding for mobility measures

We welcome this funding which will stimulate employment and lead to some public realm improvements.

We particularly welcome the plans to carry out preliminary design works on a new cycling bridge across the River Corrib along the old rail abutments. This route would be much used and much loved and would inspire active communities on both sides of the river, linking people, places and nature. This should allow the Council be ready to apply for funding in the future to carry out this wonderful and useful project.

We do have some safety concerns about a hard shoulder along the N6 between Ballybane and Briarhill becoming a cycleway but will comment on this if and when we see detailed plans from the Council.

We are happy that the road and cycle lane resurfacing works will make it easier to push buggies, wheel, walk and drive about our city.

The introduction of lighting along the fragmented coastal cycle paths are to be praised and will make these routes more attractive and useful during the dark evenings.

We do think an opportunity was missed to remove the ‘kissing gates’ at Mutton Island – swing gates which are intended to prevent horses and scramblers from accessing facilities but whose effect is to make access difficult for double buggies, certain wheelchairs and non standard bicycles. These are being systematically removed in other areas of the country.

It is to the credit of the National Transport Authority (NTA) that they are stimulating the economy while carrying out works which will benefit businesses and provide safer mobility in our towns and cities.