The Galway Cycling Campaign is calling on Minister for Transport Paschal Donohoe to either drop a recently announced road sign or bring Irish traffic law into line with how the same sign is used in international traffic law. The controversy has arisen out of the Minister’s response to a campaign by Jake’s Legacy and other groups seeking lower speed limits in housing estates and residential streets. Calls for a housing estate limit of 20km/h have grown since the death of Jake Brennan in Kilkenny.
The use of such limits where children are playing has been standard elsewhere in Northern Europe for decades. The laws of other countries go further and legally define particular streets as “living streets”, “residential areas” or “play streets”, where children and other pedestrians have legal priority over cars and are legally entitled to use the entire road – playing on the street is permitted and protected by law.
The international sign for residential area with pedestrian priority and legal protection for playing children.
In 1993 the legal concept of a residential area with pedestrian priority and a maximum speed of 20km/h was incorporated into international traffic law – the Vienna Convention on Road Traffic. Under this UN Convention a sign with pictures of a house, a car and two people playing on the road with a ball indicates a “residential area” (sign E17a). The following countries have the same law and similar or related signage: the Netherlands, Germany, Belgium, Austria, Sweden, Poland, Czech Republic, Slovakia, Spain, Belarus, France and Switzerland. The Netherlands, Germany, Belgium and Austria also specify a speed limit of walking speed in these zones.
Proposed Irish sign for residential area without pedestrian priority and no specific legal protection for playing children
On 19 March 2015 Minister for Transport Paschal Donohoe announced a proposal for “Slow Zones” with a speed limit of 30km/h in residential areas – effectively rejecting international standards. The Minister’s proposal includes a road sign identical to the standard E17a format, but has not announced any supporting legislation to give playing children legal priority or protection. Irish traffic law confines pedestrians to “footways” unless crossing the road. “By using this sign under existing laws the Minister has effectively given it a meaning opposite to common understanding” said Campaign PRO Oisin Ó Nidh.
In a submission to the Minister, the Galway Cycling Campaign points out that Ireland has free travel to and from other European countries. We have a duty to people from other cultures, including children, not to use commonly understood road signs in a way that is confusing and contradicts their original meaning. The Cycling Campaign has called on the Minister to either retract the new road sign or bring Irish traffic law into line with international law.
Galway Cycling Campaign support proposal to build new road for HGV’s
There will be a massive increase in the number of HGV’s coming through the city during the construction of the proposed extension to Galway Harbour.
Galway Cycling Campaign is concerned about the impact this substantial upsurge in heavy vehicles will have on the citizens of Galway.
The Environmental Impact Statement estimates that during the first stage of construction there will be 305 HGV movements per day. This is on top of an average of 376 HGV’s that currently pass along Lough Atalia on an average weekday. In total- during operational hours for the harbour construction- it will result in an average of 52 HGV’s clogging up Lough Atalia Road every hour.
Galway Cycling Campaign PRO Oisin O’Nidh commented, “HGV’s are particularly dangerous for cyclists and pedestrians. There is a significant body of solid evidence out there which clearly demonstrates the link between HGV’s and increased cyclist and pedestrian fatalities.”
Galway Cycling Campaign support Galway City Council’s proposal to build a special road that follows the route of the railway line which would provide an alternative route for construction traffic. When the harbour is built this road could continue to provide a means for heavy freight to avoid the city centre. Plans for this road are set out in the City Development Plan 2005-2011.
Galway Cycling Campaign members presented their concerns at the An Bord Pleanála oral hearing regarding the proposed extension to Galway Harbour on Thursday January 22nd.
“HGV’s cause a sense of intimidation and fear, and are an unsafe environment for young children. They make the city an unattractive place to walk and cycle, not to mention the noise,” added Mr O’Nidh.
The HGV’s with their heavy loads will be making their way to the harbour along a number of designated routes. Second and third level students will be affected in addition to young children attending primary schools. The following schools and colleges are on the proposed haulage routes: Moneenageisha Community College, Coláiste na Coiribe, GMIT, Holy Trinity Girls and St Michael’s Boys in Mervue, Shantalla NS, Galway Educate Together, St Joseph’s Special NS and St Francis NS.
According to Dublin City Council, between 2002 and 2006 11 cyclists died on the roads; 8 of these people were killed by HGV’s that were making a left turn.
In London, half of the 44 cyclist fatalities between 2011 and 2013 were as a result of a collision with a HGV. Of these 21, ten involved a collision with a left-turning HGV.
To read what we said at the oral hearing, please click here Harbour Oral Hearing (speaking note)
Galway Cycling Campaign has welcomed the launch of the city Bike Share scheme (Coca-Cola Zero Bikes) but has criticised City Hall for failing to maximise on the potential benefits of the milestone event.
As highlighted by the recent online petition by An Mheitheal Rothar, which has over 650 signatures to date, Galway Cycling Campaign has expressed its disappointment with the decision to remove current bike parking facilities in order to make way for the new Coca-Cola Zero docking stations. “Galway is significantly underserved in terms of bike parking facilities and the removal of already limited bike parking is a regretful decision by City Hall. Bike parking and docking stations for the Bike Share scheme can and should exist side by side”, explained Oisin O’ Nidh, Campaign PRO. The Campaign has estimated that 50 parking spaces have been removed in the city centre during the recent installation works.
The Coca-Cola Zero Bikes launched on Monday with many unfinished docking stations and two fewer stations than originally planned. The station at Forster Street is to be installed in 2015 under the Fair Green Road Scheme but the planned station on University Road will no longer go ahead. City Hall, in a last minute U-turn, decided to remove one of the three largest docking stations from the entire scheme due to concerns over loss of car parking. “The decision to completely remove a station capable of holding up to 30 bicycles, one of only three of that size, seems to indicate the current priorities of City Hall. UHG and NUIG have lost their primary docking station link to the city centre even before roll out”, said Robert Mc Kenny, Campaign Chair.
The issue of one-way streets has also been highlighted by the local advocacy group. The Jacobs Report, which was the initial feasibility study for the Bike Share Scheme, described Galway as being ‘awkward to navigate by bike’ and recommended providing two-way cycling on one-way streets. The Campaign is quick to point out that this recommendation has not been implemented, “Two-way cycling on one-way streets has been in the City Development Plan for a decade now and The Jacobs Report stressed the importance of this in its Executive Summary. One-way streets lead to long detours for cyclists and we need to do everything we can to make the new Coca-Cola Zero Bikes scheme successful. City Hall have the power to do this”, said Mr. Mc Kenny
The Galway Cycling Campaign has raised concerns about proposals to
rearrange the junction at the Fire Station on Fr Griffin Rd. The
proposals are due to come before the City Council meeting on Monday
9th September. The cyclists say this is a key junction, serving
districts with the highest levels of cycling in the city and that the
changes could have negative effects for these road users. They are
calling for cycle lanes to be included in the redesign.
The proposals will convert the one-way section of Fairhill opposite
the Fire Station to two-way use and will allow cars to turn into this
section from Fr Griffin Rd. For the cyclists, the issue is that the
council are proposing to put dedicated right-turn lanes on Fr Griffin
Rd. They say that this will have the effect of pushing the main
traffic queues into the edge of the road thus blocking out cyclists on
a key route into the city. According to the Cycle Campaign, the
changes will have the effect of pushing cyclists up onto the footpaths
to keep moving.
According to Campaign spokesperson Oisin O’Nidh “There
aren’t cycle lanes at this junction but it works well for cyclists at
the moment because motorists using tend to stay in the right hand lane
when queuing at the lights”. He continued “this means there is usually
space for cyclists to keep moving – our reading of the new design is
that it will push cars into this space leaving cyclists with nowhere
to go”. Census data in the draft Galway Walking and Cycling Strategy
show that Salthill, the Taylors Hill area and the Claddagh have the
highest levels of cycling to work. In 2006, 9% of Salthill, 8% of
Taylors Hill residents and 7% of Claddagh residents cycled to work or
education. The junction at the Fire Station is on the direct route
into the city for many of these cyclists. In an alternative proposal
the Galway Cycling Campaign is a calling for cycle lanes to be
provided on Fr Griffin Rd as part of these works.
At today’s (9th of September 2013) City Hall meeting the council will also consider proposals for traffic calming at various locations including Dr. Mannix and Rahoon
Rds. The cycling campaign is in favour of this part of the proposals
and welcomes these measures as creating safer more attractive places
for cycling and walking.
The Galway Cycling Campaign has welcomed changes proposed by Galway County Council to the Oughterard to Clifden Greenway at the An Bord Pleanala oral hearing held in Clifden last week. The cyclists had serious concerns about an initial design that would put a recreational cycle-path directly beside high-speed traffic on the N59 for over 11km. At the hearing, held over two days in the Station House Hotel Clifden, the County Council offered an amended design. The new design would use sections of the old railway line and the old Clifden road to provide an additional 6.35Km away from the N59.
Some of the alternatives brought to the Oral Hearing by Galway Cycling Campaign that where adopted. Routes No 1 and No 4 shown below
The hearing heard some opposition from local landowners, particularly from the Bunscanniff and Glengowla townlands. Keith Geoghegan of Glengowla mines expressed serious concerns about possible ill effects on his business but offered an alternative route through his property away from the old railway track. Some observers expressed the view that visiting tourists should be charged a fee to cross individual land holdings. Mr. Liam Gavin, Senior County Engineer, expressed a preference for following the old Clifden-Galway Railway embankment to the greatest practical extent. Local hoteliers and business owners spoke in favour of the scheme. Mr. Paul Dunne, a Lecturer in Tourism at GMIT spoke in favour of placing the route away from the N59 and cited research on feedback from users of the Great Western Greenway in Mayo. Some contributors took an opposing position arguing for the incorporation of the route into the N59 or of dropping the scheme altogether in favour of investing in local roads.
Evidence was presented at the hearing pointing out that the incorporation of recreational cycle-routes into roads with high-speed traffic is directly contrary to both the 2007 Failte Ireland Tourism Strategy and guidance from the National Trails Office.
According to the cyclists, the overall proposal to develop a 50km Greenway from Oughterard to Clifden, and costed at EU7million, is welcome. If sensitively carried out, the scheme could create a huge asset for the community of West Connemara. They point out that the Western Greenway in Mayo has generated EU7million per year for the local community – indicating significant unmet demand for a particular cycling experience.
An Bord Pleanala recently rejected a Kerry County Council application to put a tourist cycle route directly beside the N86 on the Dingle Peninsula. The Cycle Campaign is hopeful that the eventual Board decision on the Galway greenway may identify further sections of the route that can be taken off road. Even with the changes proposed, 5.15km will still be right beside the traffic on the N59.