It is beautiful to witness whole-hearted support for a city network of greenways and cycle routes. These will result in an inevitable boost to tourism, and increase quality of life for residents.The Salthill Cycleway will be the blue jewel in the Galway’s greenways crown. No other part of the network will go through a vibrant village like Salthill. Salthill deserves a temporary cycleway to make sure that the city delivers a proper permanent greenway.
In 2011, Anne Graham of the National Transport Authority, and now its CEO, presented a report of four priority cycle routes to the city council, identifying the Bearna to Oranmore Route, as well as others originating from Moycullen, Menlo, and Ardaun. Councillors should urgently press the Council to act on these, with the 22 new active and sustainable travel staff allocated by the NTA last February.
In the interim, the 3km seafront two-way segregated cycleway will benefit local residents, children pedaling to sports at weekends, teenagers and families going to the beach, and students and swimmers heading for Blackrock. There will be minimal disruption to people driving from Conamara. It is expected, like elsewhere in Ireland and overseas, that a new quality cycleway will result in many short car trips being replaced by cycle trips.
An interim cycleway can be built now, within existing powers. It is well within the competencies of the current council Executive, and within the available road space. It has the full backing of the Department of Transport.The Minister for Transport declared that full funding is immediately available from the department, if councillors vote yes on Monday. The Minister also announced that new legislation will make it easier for local authorities to create cycle lanes and enable trials. This is welcome; cycle routes are in successive city development plans for over 20 years. Progress is glacial.
Students comprise about 25% of our population; 20% of households do not have access to a car; Galway already is a cycling city. Salthill can rightly be proud that it has among the highest levels of cycling participation in the entire country at 9%, followed closely by Taylor’s Hill and the Claddagh.
We estimate 458 car spaces between the three free council car parks at Seapoint, Claude Toft, and Leisureland, and about the same again on-street, all within about 300m of Salthill village.Reallocating some of the road space to allow safe cycle lanes could lead to a reduction, or an increase, in the total number of car parking spaces, depending on how the remaining road space is allocated.There are five disabled parking spaces along the Prom. We have asked the council to allocate the entire front row of 40+ car parking spaces at Seapoint to blue badge holders and Age Friendly spaces.
We have also asked for more pedestrian crossings between Grattan Road and Blackrock.Walking the Prom will become a more pleasant experience, as the Salthill cycleway will act as a buffer between people and traffic. People in cars and cafés will have a better view of the bay and limestone hills, as the view will no longer be blocked by stationary cars.We have seen such a surge in people cycling since the pandemic.
Imagine what it would be like if people of all ages and abilities could do it safely? Irish and international research has shown that once active travel is safe, car use and parking requirements go down. If Salthill bucks this trend, that can be explored and addressed. We should try something new to get Galway moving. The beauty of this temporary Salthill Cycleway is that nothing is absolute. This is a unique chance to see what works. We should seize the opportunity with grateful hands.
On Monday, Galway City Councillors once again have the opportunity to be world leaders in Active Travel and Climate Action by supporting a much longed for temporary Salthill Cycleway, as permanent plans for an urban greenway for Galway and flood defences are progressed.
Top of the agenda of the Galway City Council Meeting is a vote for a temporary two-way segregated cycleway along the coastal side of the Prom from Knocknacarra Cross to the junction of the R336 with Grattan Road.
The motion is a clear statement from our elected representatives that this cycleway is a priority, and that a temporary Salthill Cycleway will be urgently made while permanent plans are developed. Galway Cycling Campaign invites all councillors, city residents, Salthill locals, and businesses to make their support public.
From our engagement with councillors, we are pleased that our tally shows that the motion for a temporary Salthill Cycleway will be passed on Monday; however, we would like unanimous support for this project to get Galway moving. Safer cycling routes benefit everyone: residents, visitors, school and sport communities, and businesses.
At just over 3km in length, this interim project would connect Knocknacarra, the most densely populated area of the city, to Salthill and the city centre and beyond. It would be a ‘spine’ to connect people going to work, restaurants and cafés, beaches, and shops, as well as providing a safe route for children going to school in the city centre, Salthill, and Knocknacarra. It will take about 10 minutes to cycle this route at a gentle pace.
Last year, a council Covid mobility survey revealed that a safe cycle route along the Prom was the most popular concern of Galway residents. In spring, Principals for Change, a group of 28 principals of primary and secondary schools in the city, pleaded with councillors for better bike infrastructure in an open letter. One commented, “What would really help our school for both teachers and students would be a proper cycle lane on the Prom – that comes up all the time.”
The government of Fianna Fáil, Fine Gael, and the Green Party have provided a €1.8 billion budget for active and sustainable travel. The National Transport Authority allocated 22 new staff in February to Galway City Council for active and sustainable travel projects. The Minister for Transport has confirmed that funding will be immediately available for a temporary Salthill Cycleway, if councillors vote yes.
Every temporary cycleway and every greenway in Ireland has resulted in increased footfall in surrounding areas, and a local boom for businesses.
In one year from 1 September 2020 to 1 September 2021, there were almost two million walking and cycling trips on the interim Coastal Mobility Route in Dún Laoghaire-Rathdown. There has been a 4x increase of people cycling from 5,000 people per week to 20,000 people per week. The quieter and more attractive public realm has enticed more people into the urban villages, and new independent retailers and cafés have opened.
Studies from TU Dublin and overseas show that traders can overestimate spending by customers who arrive by car rather than other transport modes. Business owners should be relieved, and excited, to learn that multiple studies have shown that people who shop by foot or bike tend to spend more money with more frequent visits. Cycle parking delivers five times the retail spend per square metre than the same area of car parking.
BEDEVILLED BY FEAR
Sustainable transport initiatives in Ireland are often bedevilled by a familiar pattern of fear of change, predictions of chaos, and selective analysis of technical merits. Dublin’s DART and LUAS roll out followed a similar pattern, and, far from chaos, they now carry almost 70 million passengers each year.
Does anyone remember our Shop Street before it was pedestrianised in 1998? The narrow footpaths, heavy traffic, bus whistling by, the death-grips as you held your childrens’ hands? Does anyone miss it?
Businesses benefited, due to hugely increased footfall in this vibrant retail and hospitality area that stretches from Eyre Square down the now self-styled Latin Quarter and Spanish Arch, perpetually abuzz. Once a trial project is perceived as being successful, there is very little risk in accepting, or, indeed, embracing it.
Our streets are subject to continual, and largely successful, process of renewal. And these streets have changed radically as Galway has developed into a vibrant city. This was no accident. It was the result of our choices.
Children should not need to be brave to cycle to school, or the beach, or the shops or playground. Courage should be found in our councillors as they face Monday’s vote.
It is not safe to cycle along the Prom to Knocknacarra or towards town: there is no protection for people on bikes, there are high volumes of traffic, the carriageways are very wide with hatching which leads to increased speeding, there is a high risk of being ‘doored’ by people in cars parked along the road. This is unacceptable, and we should fix this.
This is not hard engineering, if you have courage.
Sometimes the best way to remove barriers to active travel is to add one. A safe and separate temporary two-way cycleway is technically feasible; the progressive council engineers are the most appropriate professionals to design this.
Last week, the Minister for Transport promised new legislation to make it easier for local authorities to create cycle lanes, bus lanes, and enable trials. This is warmly welcomed; cycle networks and greenway plans are in successive city development plans for over 20 years. Progress has been glacial.
Given the wide carriageways, there is the possibility of moving car parking to the northern side of the Prom road. There is also green space available either side of the Seapoint car-park to create a cycleway away from the road, and so avoid the entrances to the car-park and the roundabout at Salthill Village.
To facilitate people with mobility impairments, Galway Cycling Campaign has requested that the full seaside row of 40+ spaces in the Seapoint car-park should be Blue Badge and Age Friendly spaces only.
There are appropriate infill sites that could be converted into Blue Badge and Age Friendly Spaces for older people who want to look at the sea, and for short-term car-parking for Blackrock swimmers.
We have also asked for more pedestrian crossings to be added.
PARIS – THE CITY OF BIKES
Reallocating road space to protected cycling space is something cities are doing the world over, and reaping the benefits of better road safety and ringing tills. By creating a high quality space, retail and hospitality spending increased by over 400% in Auckland. People, not cars, are the economic power of cities.
Over the last seven years, Paris has slashed vehicle traffic, promoted cycling, and built up the city’s defenses against climate impacts. The results transformed the streets of the capital: car ownership in Paris is down 20% from 1999, and bike usage has risen 54% between 2018 and 2019 alone. With the onset of the pandemic, the city created 50 km more of pop-up bike lanes called “coronapistes,” including along the Rue de Rivoli. The city of lights is now the city of bikes.
Remember, every single time you hear someone say “We’re not Amsterdam,” that the safe cycling haven of the Netherlands began only in the late 1970’s, thanks to the persistence of mothers and local groups.
COMMUNITY CYCLE THIS SUNDAY
The mums and dads of Galway Urban Greenway Alliance (GUGA ) are hosting a special community cycle this Sunday, 26 September. This family fun cycle is an invitation to the people of Galway to show support for the temporary Salthill Cycleway. The meeting point is the Claddagh Hall at 11am.
Communities in the east and west of the city will join in too. The East of the Corrib cycle-bus will depart from the Maldron Hotel, Sandy Road, at 10.15am, and the Galway Cycle-Bus and Knocknacarra Community Group will pedal from McGrath’s Field.
Please register for the “Galway Urban Greenway Community Cycle” on EventBrite.com
Status quo says, “There’s only a few people cycling; we can’t invest more.” Leaders say, “There’s only a few people cycling; we must invest more.”
Sometimes, it only takes one word to be a leader. We don’t have another 20 years to wait.
This year Bike Week looks a little different. We’ve organised online meetings, info sessions and working groups since March, and so we’re using this experience to bring you a series of webinars with guests from Ireland, Europe, and the USA.
Bike Parking and the Bottom Line
The Covid-19 pandemic has had a huge impact on local businesses and retail in Galway city and county. We’re all living our lives more locally these days and government advice is to walk or cycle where possible. International research and the experience of Dublin shows that quality and inclusive bike parking is an investment in local and loyal customers.
His Excellency, Adriaan Palm, Ambassador at The Netherlands Embassy to Ireland
Chris Bruntlett, Dutch Cycling Embassy and co-author of Building the Cycling City: The Dutch Blueprint for Urban Vitality
Richard Guiney, CEO of Dublin Town
Clodagh Colleran, Development Studies Association of Ireland, Trinity College Dublin
MOTHERLOAD, virtual community screening in Galway and Q&A with director Liz Canning
Date: Sunday, 27 September 2020, 7.30pm – 10pm
Our grand finale to Bike Week 2020 is hosting MOTHERLOAD as a virtual community screening and covideo party. We’re delighted that director Liz Canning will join us for a Q&A on Zoom immediately afterward for a panel discussion with urban liveability and health experts.
This 86 minute documentary from the USA captures a new mother’s quest to understand the increasing isolation and disconnection of modern life, its planetary impact, and how cargo bikes could be an antidote. It won a Sundance Special Jury Prize in 2019.
Join the covideo party on Twitter using the hashtags #MOTHERLOAD #MOTHERLOADgalway
Post-screening Q&A with
Liz Canning, director of MOTHERLOAD
Neasa Bheilbigh, Galway Cycle Bus
Síle Ginnane, co-founder of Better Ennis
Jo Sachs-Elderidge, organiser of the Leitrim Cycling Festival and co-author of A Vision for Cycling in Rural Ireland by the Rural Cycling Collective
Galway Cycling Campaign was awarded funds this week from Galway city and county councils for an ambitious, diverse and inclusive range of events for Bike Week 2020 which begins this Saturday 19 September and runs until Sunday 27 September.
Webinars, live streaming events, social media events, social media engagement, online video, and podcasting are some of the ways Galway Cycling Campaign will engage people in everyday cycling.
“We’re disappointed that with covid restrictions, it’s not possible to offer people as many changes to engage with us face to face,” said Martina Callanan, deputy chairperson.
“Since March we’ve hosted many online events and we’re pleased to offer a terrific programme with high profile guest speakers on a range of everyday cycling topics, as well as creative ways for people to share their everyday cycle journeys.”
Are bikes good for business?
Dutch Ambassador to Ireland, HE Adriaan Palm will be the special guest at a lunchtime webinar on Thursday 24 September on “Bike Parking Means Business: investing in bicycle parking is investing in local and loyal customers”.
Ambassador Palm will be joined by a Dutch expert and CEO of Dublin Town, Richard Guiney.
This event will be of particular interest to local businesses and retailers in the city centre, suburbs, and county.
The finale for Bike Week will be a special covideo party of MOTHERLOAD on Sunday 27 September at 7.30pm. This 86 minute documentary from the USA captures a new mother’s quest to understand the increasing isolation and disconnection of modern life, its planetary impact, and how cargo bikes could be an antidote. It won a Sundance Special Jury Prize in 2019.
Filmmaker Liz Canning cycled everywhere until her twins were born in 2008. Motherhood was challenging and hauling babies via car felt stifling. She googled ‘family bike’ and discovered people using cargo bikes: long-frame bicycles designed for carrying heavy loads. Liz set out to learn more, and documented her journey.
MOTHERLOAD will be streamed online and people are invited to join in the covideo party and Twitter conversation using the hashtag #MOTHERLOADGalway. Free tickets are available.
Director Liz Canning will join a panel of health and urban liveability experts for a post-screening discussion and Q&A on Zoom.
There will be two virtual events on social media with prizes for creative participation. Galway will join the annual international “Fancy Women Bike Ride’ of women reclaiming streets by celebrating cycling on Tuesday 22 September. Teenage girls, mums and older women are especially invited to post videos and photos on social media of cycling with family and friends and tag @GalwayCycling plus #FancyWomenGalway
On Saturday 26 September, Galway Cycling Campaign will host a virtual Pedal Parade. This is a call to people of all ages and abilities who cycle a wide range of bicycles to be visible on our streets, city, towns and in society. Post videos on social media of videos and photos and tag @GalwayCycling plus #PedalParadeGalway.
There will be prizes for creative participation of bike racks, baskets, panniers and high quality bike lights and bells.
Galwegian and road engineer Conor Geraghty will be a guest speaker at a special online webinar tonight, Thursday 17 September, to discuss ‘The Art of the Possible: The Coastal Mobility Route’ with two of his colleagues from Dún Laoghaire-Rathdown County Council, lead architect Bob Hannan and Robert Burns, Director of Services.
The Coastal Mobility Route in dlr connects the five south Dublin villages of Blackrock, Monkstown, Dún Laoghaire, Glasthule and Dalkey and has become an inspiration for many with the quality of its design and build.
The dlr council radically reimagined the five urban villages as havens for people walking, wheeling and cycling as they lacked space for people to queue while social distancing.
Now with wider footpaths and more on-street tables and chairs, people are coming to these places, lingering, and spending money in local businesses, cafés and restaurants in the town centres.
Last weekend, there was a 230% increase in people on bikes cycling along the coast at Dún Laoghaire compared to a similar weekend last year.
The Coastal Mobility Route has witnessed an increased diversity in the type of people using the two-way mobility route including motorised wheelchairs, families with cargo bikes, and other bicycles adapted for people with disabilities.
Conor Geraghty of Crestwood, Coolough Road, is the Technical Design Lead. A graduate of NUI Galway in mechanical engineering, he switched to civil engineering after a year in Australia. He has worked with dlr since January 2008.
Conor cycled to school everyday down the Dyke Road to St Patricks’ primary school in the city centre. As a student in the Bish, he made the journey four times daily, returning home each day for lunch.
As well as supporting business, a local primary school is also benefiting from the protected two-way mobility route. “Scoil Lorcáin is the school closest to the coastal route,” says Conor. “The school has more people cycling now than they can accommodate in their bike parking, which is a direct result of the route. Parents and grandparents collect their kids and grandchildren by bike. Lots of children aged 8, 9 and 10 years cycle independently along the route.”
Lead architect Bob Hannan will be familiar to Galway audiences as he was a special guest speaker at Architecture at the Edge in 2019, Galways’ annual weekend celebration of exceptional architecture in the West of Ireland.
Roscommon man Robert Burns is Director of Services in dlr. Previously, he was a senior engineer within that council, and prior to that was an engineer in Clare County Council. He is familiar with the challenges faced by urban and rural communities to provide better walking and active travel facilities.
Event organiser Síle Ginnane of Better Ennis is delighted that there’s interest from people in Galway in the event. “Everyone is welcome. Covid-19 has brought its many difficulties, yet webinars and the dlr Coastal Mobility Team show what’s possible in challenging times. We’re delighted that Conor’s fellow Tribes people are interested in attending. We hope that dlr can inspire communities along the west coast to develop attractive mobility routes and open up access to our towns and villages so they can thrive again.”
The webinar takes place at 8pm on Thursday 17 September at 8pm. This event will be of interest to people curious about healthy cities, urban design, active travel and creating liveable places.
Free tickets are available on EventBrite for the event ‘The Art of the Possible: The Coastal Mobility Route’ which is organised by Better Ennis.
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.
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.