Councillors puncture cyclists’ hopes of pop up Salthill cycle lane

The people of Galway have clearly said, ‘We want a safe cycle lane on the Prom for our families during Covid-19.’ We are disappointed that our Councillors have not asked the Chief Executive to apply for special Covid-19 funds through the National Transport Authority (NTA), which would fund the proposed pop-up cycle lane along the Prom, plus more pedestrian crossings and extensive bike parking. Given that future permanent cycle facilities are now tied to the development of flood defences, nothing will happen in Salthill for years and years. The status quo remains: families will continue to share the road with buses, cars, and vans.

Maire Silke of Salthill with her son, daughter-in-law and 8-year-old grandson and members and supporters of the Galway Cycling Campaign at a flashmob gathering to support Council plans for a Covid-19 temporary pop up cycle lane, pedestrian crossings and extensive bike parking in Salthill. Photo: Mike Shaughnessy, Galway Advertiser

The following statement from Galway Cycling Campaign was published in The Galway Advertisers on 16 July 2020 under the headline, Councillors puncture cyclists’ hopes of pop up Salthill cycle lane

“The people of Galway have clearly said, ‘We want a safe cycle lane on the Prom for our families during Covid-19.’ Over 200 of the 1400 public submissions for covid mobility measures received by the Council were for a Salthill cycle lane.

Over 1,400 submissions were received by Galway City Council during a six-week public engagement exercise online.; overr 200 requests were for a safe cycle lane in Salthill. Click on the image to view the map, submissions and comments.

Yesterday, our flashmob gathering on the Prom vibrantly showed that people of all ages and abilities want safe cycling and mobility infrastructure during coronavirus. 

Children, four-legged furry friends, and adult trikes and cargo bikes and joined the Galway Cycling Campaign flashmob gather on Tuesday 14 July to show support for the Galway City Council plans for a Covid-19 temporary pop up cycle lane and associated cycling facilities

“We are disappointed that our Councillors have not asked the Chief Executive to apply for special Covid-19 funds through the National Transport Authority (NTA), which would fund the proposed pop-up cycle lane along the Prom, plus more pedestrian crossings and extensive bike parking.

“Given that future permanent cycle facilities are now tied to the development of flood defences, nothing will happen in Salthill for years and years. The status quo remains: families will continue to share the road with buses, cars, and vans.

There is only one safe and separate path for a child to safely cycle in Salthill – the short path from Blackrock diving tour and behind Galway Golf Club. Photo: Alan Curran

“Now, we must turn our energies towards creating safe routes to schools when they reopen at the end of August. Social distancing will be with us for as long as this killer virus is present.

“We need to enable children and teenagers to walk and cycle safely to school, especially as bus capacity has shrunk and parents may have concerns about car-pooling between different families.”

Galway Cycle Bus hosted a Family Cycle through Knocknacarra from Miller’s Lane to Cappagh Park on Saturday 11 July. Photo: Mike Shaughnessy, Galway Advertiser

A warm welcome to Minister Hildegarde Naughton

Galway Cycling Campaign warmly welcomes the news that Hildegard Naughton will serve as Junior Minister in the Department of Transport in An Taoiseach Micheál Martin’s Government. 

Minister Hildegarde Naughton

Kevin Jennings, chairperson of the Galway Cycling Campaign said, “We congratulate Minister Naughton on her appointment to the Department of Transport. This is good news for Galway city and county.

Minister Naughton regularly engages with us on cycling issues and our ongoing Change Our Streets movement for more space and less speed for people walking and cycling.

As former chair of the cross-party Joint Oireachtas Committee on Climate Action, Minister Naughton understands the intimately intertwined social and economic challenges of congestion, public health, and quality of life.

The Programme for Government rightly recognises cycling as a sustainable solution to these collective challenges.

We all want Galway to be a safer, healthier and happier city and county for all ages and abilities to live, learn, work, and play.

We look forward to working with Minister Naughton to make cycling a very real and very safe option for all.”

Cycling, coffee, cakes, chats – what’s not to love?

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.

Join our conversation on Twitter @GalwayCycling

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.

Become a member – Join Galway Cycling Campaign

A version of this article appears on page 4 in The Galway Advertiser on 11 June 2020.

Cycling in Galway

This article was written by Stan Carey for the Galway Cycling Campaign. A version of it was published by the Galway Independent for its ‘Inside Out’ column on 4 June 2014.

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People sometimes ask why I cycle around Galway when I have a car, and I’m surprised the answer isn’t obvious. Then I remember there are lots of answers. Cyclists are commonly stereotyped – as lycra-wearing fanatics, cardboard-eating eco-warriors, etc. – but we’re as diverse as any random group of people, and we have countless reasons for cycling and styles of doing so.

One thing that puts people off is the perceived danger, but cycling is a lot safer than it’s made out to be if you have the right skills. And it becomes safer with numbers. All road users need to share the roads respectfully, and above all be patient. Overtaking a cyclist dangerously just to save a few seconds is a nasty thing to do, illegal too, yet it happens all the time. I don’t care how much of a rush you’re in, your time isn’t worth putting someone’s life and well-being at risk.

Not that cyclists are immune from bad behaviour. I see examples every day – like footpath cycling, which I don’t mind when it’s a child or learner taking their time, but when it’s an able-bodied young male zipping by makes me want to lecture and fine them on the spot. Still, it’s nothing to the danger posed by driving at speed, which is rife and inadequately enforced and has helped decimate the number of children and families cycling on city and rural roads in Ireland.

Galway’s size and layout are well-suited to getting around by bike or foot. The city has a proud tradition of cycling, and it wouldn’t take much to make bikes a strong part of its culture again – a bit of promotion, know-how, and political will. The upcoming Greenways and Coke Zero bike rental scheme should help normalise and boost cycling again, following the great successes in Mayo and Dublin.

Like learning to drive, it’s hardest when you’re starting. How can beginners and nervous cyclists develop the confidence and skills to manoeuvre roads that seem so hostile? Know your bike and your capabilities, for starters. Watch and learn from experienced cyclists. Get a copy of the Galway Cycling Campaign’s “Cycling Skills” leaflets, or read John Franklin’s book Cyclecraft in the city library. And practise. It takes time to learn how to read the roads, to anticipate threats, to know when it’s safer to use the centre of a lane and when to keep in. Just give those car doors a wide berth.

Galway’s infrastructure isn’t very cycling-friendly, with its roundabouts, slip roads, poor surfaces, one-way systems, meagre parking, inept cycle lanes, and aggressive emphasis on traffic “flow” rather than safe, accessible, permeable streets. But the benefits more than compensate. JFK was right: Nothing compares to the simple pleasure of a bike ride. It’s great for mental and physical health. The financial savings are amazing. Parking is easy, even if it often requires lampposts and railings. Traffic jams are irrelevant. (I can’t be the only one bemused by all the empty roads in cars ads.)

Less obviously, cycling brings a real physical quality to a journey. Instead of being cut off from the world around you, you’re immersed in it. You can enjoy its sights and sounds and take in the scenery Galway is blessed with. Feel the sun on your face (if there is any), the wind in your hair (if you have any), the joy of freewheeling downhill. You can stop on a whim to look at something or chat to someone you know. And when you get home you have the satisfaction of having exercised and gotten a good dose of fresh air. Even the weather’s not as bad as you’d think.