The minutes of Galway Cycling Campaign meetings are circulated to current members via email.
Composed of stunning photographs by up-and-coming talents Chris Tierney and Peter Fedrizzi, the calendars cover all aspects of cycling in Galway and the cyclists who make up all facets of life in Galway city and county. There are cycling teachers, cycling college lecturers, and the smiling children at Galway’s annual Bike Week Treasure Hunt. The amazing success of the Green Schools Travel program is epitomised in a photo of the children of Eagles Nest national school in Renvyle tearing down a local beach on their bikes. There are stories of how cycling helped people overcome adversity, such as Liam Cullinane, who was able to regain his independence after a severe bout of meningitis, and local hurling star Dave Collins, who cycled back to fitness after a catastrophic injury on the pitch.
There is a cycling Garda and a bus driver who cycles to work every day. The arts are featured, with Páraic Breathnach relating the story of his first bike, and Natalia Surina, a harper whose bike is her first choice in transport. The sport of cycling is celebrated with local champion Sadhbh Baxter of the West Coast Wheelers. The grass roots of cycling activism in Galway is also captured in the monthly Critical Mass bike rides, with balloon-festooned cyclists flying the flag for fun (and politics with a small p)!
The calendars are just one aspect of a larger €28,000 Image of Cycling in Galway project co-ordinated by Justyna Kocjan on behalf of the Galway Cycling Campaign. As part of the project, a unified brand and logo for cycling in Galway has been developed by graphic designers Simon Fleming and Alexa Mottram under the catchphrase “Treibheanna ar Rothair” (“Tribes on Bikes”) and will be promoted via various promotional items across the city and county.
The calendars are freely available in bike shops, outdoors shops, Green Schools, Charlie Byrne’s bookshop, Galway City Council, Galway Transportation Unit, HSE Health Promotion, NUIG, and GMIT, and can also be requested by emailing [email protected].
Notes for journalists
Galway Cycling Campaign:
Formed after a large public meeting in 1998, the Galway Cycling Campaign works to promote cycling as a healthy, convenient and accessible form of transport in Galway city and county. The €28,000-funded “Image of Cycling in Galway” is just one of a number of projects the Cycling Campaign is involved with to promote Galway as Ireland’s Cycling City. Working with the Chamber of Commerce, the campaign has also obtained Smarter Travel projects funding of €400,000 for bike parking at city businesses and €8,000 to train and support Workplace Cycle Champions at offices and factories. Other activities include the annual Bicycle Treasure hunt for the city’s younger cyclists and the Faster by Bike in Galway project (co-funded by the City Council and the HSE), which puts signs up on traffic lights with safety messages, indicating typical cycling times to key destinations. The Cycling Campaign also produces cycle skills leaflets that are now being reproduced in Waterford and Dublin.
Irish text translation and editing:
Gearóid Ó Casaide
Liam Ó hAisibéil
- Engagement with city officials and city councillors; catch up on the Seamus Quirke Road scheme and City Development Plan.
- Traffic light signs – Signs are collected and the cable ties bought we need to get wood for the mountings and then get it dome
- Cycling Champions in workplaces
- Image of Cycling project.
- Quick report on national events.
The Galway Cycling Campaign have written to City Council Director of Services, Ciaran Hayes, seeking clarification on the qualifications of the consultants assigned to Galway City and Environs Walking and Cycling Strategy (AECOM). The Campaigners say that they have been unable to establish that the consultants have taken an approved cycling skills course or have formal training that would allow them to assess roads used by cyclists.
The Irish Government’s National Cycle Policy Framework states: “We will also stipulate that that all local authority roads engineers and any engineer wishing to tender for government road contracts should be required to have taken an approved cycling skills course”. The stated policy of the National Cycling Lobby Group, Cyclist.ie also specifies that the completion of an approved cycling skills course is a standard requirement for all consultants undertaking such work.
The Cycling Campaign have requested documentary evidence showing that the consultants (AECOM) have taken such a course.
Shane Foran speaking for the campaign added “In the UK and Ireland , the only accredited cycling skills course dealing with the full range of on-road traffic skills is the UK National Standard for Cycle Training. The Green Schools Travel staff currently working with 400 schools, including schools in Galway, have been trained as UK National Standard instructors” The Cycle Campaign states that current best practice for drafting viable cycling strategies requires consultants who are able to audit the existing roads, and any proposed new designs, with reference to “design cyclists” who come under the different ability levels defined under the National Standard curriculum. The cyclists say that it is totally unacceptable that the City Council should apparently be seeking to develop a cycling strategy in isolation from the advice that child and adult cyclists are being given with regard to using the roads.
The cyclists say the issue of consultants being able to show that they have necessary training is non-negotiable issue, because having untrained and unassessed consultants advising on cycling measures is viewed as equivalent to employing general traffic engineers who don’t possess driving licences or any independent verification of driving competence.
On Saturday the 31st of October, a city centre car parking space was temporarily reclaimed for the people of Galway. What used to be a car parking space was transformed into a mini public park to celebrate Galway’s first ever Park(ing) Day.
The aim of Park(ing) Day is to convert a single metered parking space into a temporary public park in an area of Galway City that is underserved by public open space. The objective is to creatively explore how our urban public space is allocated and used. Inexpensive kerb-side parking results in increased traffic & less space in the city centre. This hinders the movement of pedestrians, cyclists and motor vehicles, adds to the level of CO2 emissions and prevents the creation of a healthy, vibrant urban human habitat. Park(ing) Day is about re-imagining the possibilities of the metropolitan landscape.
Galway’s newest green space was offered (and used) as a space to sit down to have a chat with friends, read the newspaper or simply to watch the world go by. The Galway Cycling Campaign also provided muffins and Justyna’s famous “bicycle shaped” cookies!
The parking meter was always running and contributions were taken from passers by to feed the meter and make sure the new “Park” was paying its way!
Venue: Galway Social Space, 24 Middle St.
Present: Shane, Tiernan, Indy, Mairéad, Catherine, Robert, Stan.
Apologies: Oisín, Simon, Kristin.
1. National Cycle Policy Framework
2. National Bike Week
Note: The prominence and proximity of National Bike Week (14–21 June 2009) means that it has been given priority over other items, which are either discussed in the context of Bike Week or not discussed at this meeting, with one exception (see (1) below).
1. The Irish government launched its National Cycle Policy Framework some weeks ago. Those at the meeting who had read it or looked through it agreed that it was an impressive and aspirational document, but that it had obvious drawbacks: it contains no figures, no dates, and no deadlines. Whether good intentions can be turned into policy and practice is a big unknown, but the document’s publication is definitely a positive step by the government towards genuine promotion of cycling. Some of the aims described in the document were mentioned and discussed.
2. Ireland’s first ever Bike Week takes place from 14 to 21 June. The Galway Cycling Campaign does not have much time or resources to prepare for it, but is nonetheless determined to do as much as possible for it. Shane and other representatives have been in contact with the City Council and other bodies, but the Volvo Ocean Race has taken centre stage for a while. A comparison with Dublin is instructive, not just in terms of organisational power: Phoenix Park is to be closed to traffic, an event management company has been hired, and a cycling officer has been preparing for Bike Week for months. Our financial and personal resources are more modest.
Tiernan of Green Schools said that the Green Flag has moved on to Travel, so there is now more of an emphasis on cycling and other alternative forms of transport. Cycle parking is to be launched in several schools, and projects such as Cycling On Wednesday (COW) and Beauty and the Bike are also being pushed. He acknowledged that the fear factor – the perception of road danger – was a considerable obstacle for some parents (more on this below). Robert asked whether any teachers were championing cycling.
Wednesday of Bike Week is “Bike to Work” day. Shane pointed out that for many people this is not something that can be decided on or prepared for on a whim, or even a few days beforehand – there needs to be an information campaign, ideally to include the local media, with a few weeks’ lead-in to give potential participants time to get their bikes checked for safety and roadworthiness. Some cyclists might not have cycled for some weeks, months or even years, and will need time to practise basic skills off- and on-road.
The Galway Cycling Map project is coming along well. Stan and Shane gave a quick summary, mentioning the online version being plotted with Google Maps but focusing on the physical maps. Galway City and several county towns have had their streets colour coded as per Warrington’s scheme. Shane and Oisín have sourced map plans and have entered and organised as much data as possible. Some town maps, e.g. Tuam, need local input. Stan has written text for the maps, some of it adapted from the Galway Cycling Campaign’s popular “Share the Road” leaflets.
Sunday 21 June concludes Bike Week, and the Galway Cycling Campaign is hoping to have a family treasure hunt that afternoon. A mostly off-road route has been planned, from Dangan through the university, down the canal, out by the Claddagh and South Park as far as Mutton Island. This event was discussed in detail by all at the meeting, since there was a lot to consider and not a lot of time to prepare. Mairéad asked if this kind of event had been done before. Shane said it hadn’t – at least not in Galway; Tiernan said that something similar had been done in Cork. Apparently Patrick St. was closed off for it.
Catherine suggested having refreshments on offer, especially for the children taking part. This was an excellent idea that hadn’t yet come up. Tiernan spoke of a cyclist with a smoothie-making bike; he also suggested balloons and face painting. All such ideas were enthusiastically received, as they would contribute to the fun and festival feel of the event. Prizes were discussed – different prizes would be needed for different ages. Children under a certain age would need to be accompanied by a parent or adult. But what age?
A code of conduct was proposed, to be signed at registration, containing instructions such as “No racing”, “Yield to pedestrians”, etc. Catherine asked if we had permission from NUIG, liability insurance, etc. Shane said that we needed feedback from NUIG about this as soon as possible, and suggested that Catherine, Mairéad and Indy form a subcommittee to tick the NUIG boxes. Indy thought of someone she could ask about some of these matters. Indy also pointed out that there were tricky parts on the route, such as a narrow pass between rocks along Dangan. Catherine asked whether there was or would be a special map for the treasure hunt.
Catherine said that we should have bikes for people who don’t have bikes, or don’t have usable bikes, or would have difficulty bringing bikes to the event. This was immediately agreed on, and provoked some discussion. Bikes to be used on the day would need to be ordered in advance if possible. Catherine also asked about funding. Shane said that there was national funding, but that locally it was unclear. Financial support from the Council was unpredictable, as last year’s Mobility Week showed.
A list of potential volunteers needs to be drawn up, and an ad hoc media blitz should be done, to include Galway Bay FM, posters, emails, local press and so on. Catherine volunteered to approach GBFM, and there was some discussion about what a daily 2-minute slot could include. A different skill subject each day, for example, or local tips and routes. Robert suggested that a willing radio employee could cycle for a week and report on air each day, hopefully with positive progress regarding his/her skill level and experience on the road. Tiernan concurred, adding that when parents began walking their children to school their first reaction was of fear or apprehension, projected from their in-car perception of traffic danger, but that they soon came to love the walking experience. Tiernan added that the Green Schools could spread the word through participating schools.
It’s obvious that we need volunteers – as many as possible – to help out on the day, as well as official support. Robert said that a competitive approach could help, especially to get businesses involved. Shane agreed but said that time and resources might preclude this. Shane said that he would set up an email list for everyone involved in Bike Week.