World Bicycle Day saw cross-party support for 30 km/h speed limits for Dublin’s city centre and suburbs. We expect Galway to follow suit. Join us for a special guest speaker event this Wednesday, 17 June 2020, from 8 pm to 9 pm about how lower speed limits will make a happier and healthier Galway with investigative journalist Maria Delaney from Newsworthy, Mairéad Forsythe of Love 30 – Ireland’s campaign for lower speed limits, and Prof Kevin Leyden of NUI Galway. Event open to all.
This one change to our streets will have an immediate impact on improving road safety. It will also make cycling and walking easier and more pleasant for people of all ages and abilities.
Lower speed limits will enable road redesign and so with narrower road carriageways there will be more space for cycle paths and wider footpaths. Lower speeds reduce the risk of road traffic collisions, reduce the risk of fatalities, and reduce the risk of life-limiting and life-changing injuries.
More Space and Less Speed are the two principles of our Change Our Streets campaign.
We are delighted to invite you to a special guest speaker event this Wednesday event at 8 pm on Zoom.
This Wednesday, 17 June 2020 8 pm to 9 pm ‘Doors’ at 7.45 pm ‘Drinks’ afterwards until 9.30 pm
Join Zoom meeting at this link Meeting ID: 826 4005 1920 Password: 320894 All welcome
Change Our Streets
Less Speed is the second principle of #ChangeOurStreets campaign. We need our Council and Government to lower speed limits and redesign roads to enable adherence to lower speeds.
Less Speed supports the More Space principle of re-allocating road space to people walking and cycling.
Join Galway Cycling Campaign
Our public events are free events and open to all. If you’d like to get involved, please join us and our everyday cycling community. Our membership contribution is €10 or €5. If you would like to donate more, you’d be most welcome!
CycleCoffeeCake is a new initiative of the Galway Cycling Campaign which aims to encourage women and novice cyclists to hop on their saddles and join together in a gentle, inclusive cycle around Galway city. We hope to encourage those who are comfortable cycling and those who would enjoy some support as they gain confidence in cycling around the city.
The inaugural CoffeeCakeCycle event takes place this Saturday, 13 June 2020, from 10.30am to 12 noon, meeting outside the Claddagh Hall at Nimmo’s Pier. From there, the group will make their way to Salthill on off-road cycle tracks along The Swamp and then go on-road at Grattan Road and out along the Prom before returning and ending at Ground & Co Salthill at the Aquarium Building.
Over the summer months, we hope to host regular CycleCoffeeCake spins and help people feel more confident cycling about town. Each event will take a different route and will offer a theme, a guest guide, or a guest speaker.
Kevin Jennings, chairperson of Galway Cycling Campaign
For this inaugural event, the theme is ‘On Your Bike!’ and a local bike mechanic from An Mheitheal Rothar will give a short talk about basic bicycle maintenance.
Cycling is an easy, fun activity for people of all ages and all abilities. We want to take people on bike trail across the city that ends in green and blue areas where we can enjoy coffee, cake and chats in safe and pleasant surroundings, like Terryland Forest Park, the Seven Galway Castles’ Heritage Cycle Trail / Slí na gCaisleán, Cappagh Park, and Ballyloughnane Beach. We want to support local businesses, especially those that have safe and secure bicycle parking outside.
Martina Callanan, spokesperson for Galway Cycling Campaign
“These are social events, with the added bonuses of exploring our city, sharing experiences, exchanging tips, and, very importantly, enjoying coffee, cake, and chats,” she added.
The bike boom of 2020 is well reported here in Galway, and indeed across the country and the world. Bike shops can barely keep up with demand as bikes – and even parts – sell out.
It has felt safe, even for families, without the traffic. It is not just bike sales that have gone through the roof; it’s entry-level bike sales for day-to-day journeys or with the kids.
Many shops are reporting for the first time that more bikes are being sold to women than men. Stepthrough frames are the most popular type of bike.
Cathy Coote of An Mheitheal Rothar points out that stepthrough bikes are useful and inclusive.
People with mobility and hip issues can get on them without pain. You can put a child seat at the back without running the risk of kicking your kid in the face. Emergency stops are easier if you feel nervous as a beginner – you can simply hop off the saddle and be on your two feet.
Cathy Coote, An Mheitheal Rothar, Galway Shopping Centre
Research shows that women tend to benefit more from higher cycling levels. Since women tend to take more care of childrens’ and older adults’ mobility in families, they gain more time if the children and older family members can take independent journeys by bike. Reducing the Mammy taxi service means women gain more time.
Kevin Nugent, owner of Ground & Co, is sponsoring the event and providing all participants with a complimentary coffee and cake or pastry.
Due to limited parking, more people are arriving by bicycle and the bike stands outside Ground & Co Salthilll have never been so busy. We’re delighted to support CycleCoffeeCake and sponsor this first-ever event.
Kevin Nugent, Ground & Co Salthill
CycleCoffeeCake follows similar inclusive cycle projects in Dublin and Wexford.
Dublin Monthly Cycles and Wexford’s Bikes & Brunch Huns say that combining cycling, coffee and cake is a wonderful way to spend a weekend morning – and help people feel more comfortable cycling around their hometowns.v
Best of luck to Galway this weekend. It’s such a laugh and I can’t even explain the pure joy of seeing people who were once scared of cycling on the roads head off with their new gang of gals around them – it’s just brilliant. Cycling, coffee, cakes, chats – what’s not to love?
Ruth O’Connor of Bikes & Brunch Huns, a project of Wexford Bike User Group (WEX-Bug)
For future events, Galway Cycling Campaign is keen to hear from people for ideas for routes and suggestions for local cafés with bike parking.
Due to government restrictions, the group will be limited to a maximum of 15 people. Register here.
You don’t need to be a member to join us for CycleCoffeeCake – join us to get involved with our projects and activities and be part of a community working together for a safer, happier and healthier Galway.
He said: “We are delighted that the two principles of the ‘Change Our Streets’ initiative for More Space and Less Speed are at the heart of our city’s plans to get Galway moving and thriving again as restrictions begin to lift.
We outlined our desire for More Space and Less Seed in our Open Letter to Galway City Council Chief Executive on Wednesday 7 May 2020, which was co-signed by over 200 organisations and individuals, including many representatives of local businesses, community groups, sports clubs and health professionals.”
He continued: “We are heartened to hear that the Framework will be a live and dynamic document, and that it prioritises active travel modes of cycling and walking. Walking and cycling are fast and affordable ways to travel short distances, and exercise is vital for our mental and physical health during the Covid-19 pandemic.”
Martina Callanan, spokesperson for Galway Cycling Campaign, said: “We welcome the statement that Community Wardens will place ‘particular emphasis…on enforcement of illegal and unauthorised parking that impairs mobility, such as parking on footpaths, yellow lines, loading bays, taxi and bus designated areas and disabled parking bays.’ There can be no tolerance of inconsiderate behaviour which places cocooners, parents with buggies and small children at risk of stepping out into the road instead of continuing on footpaths.
She added: “We welcome the provision of extra bike parking and expect all will be safe, secure and sheltered. People on bikes are good for local business. Having a bike parking outside your shop or business means space for potentially ten customers right outside your door, and bike parking helps keep your shopfront visible.”
The letter to the City Mobility Team pointed out that mobility obstacles and touch points should be eliminated where possible, for example kissing gates, beg buttons at pedestrian crossings, and narrow stiles.
Actions to reduce speed should also consider measures to temporarily alter road design and provide traffic calming.
Kevin Jennings concluded: “We look forward to engaging with the City Mobility Team in the weeks and months ahead to create a safer Galway for all ages and all abilities during coronavirus. As they start their work this week we say, Pedal on!”
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.”
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.