Saturday mornings are better with a cycle, coffee and cake

Join us this Saturday 18 July 2020 for CycleCoffeeCake at 10.30am from Nimmo’s Pier through our vibrant city centre and ending at the wonderful Ciarlantini of Woodquay. This is a gentle inclusive cycle for new or nearly-new adults on bikes. All ages and abilities are welcome. We particularly welcome mams who want some confidence before cycling with their children to school in September. Please register – we have limited numbers and need details for contact tracing.

Our first CycleCoffeeCake explored Salthill and the Prom. Kevin Nugent of Ground & Co Salthill sponsored coffee and cake for a vibrant and diverse group of new, nearly-new and returning cyclers.

CycleCoffeeCake is a new initiative of the Galway Cycling Campaign and aims to encourage new, nearly-new, and returning cyclers to hop on their saddles and join together in gentle, inclusive cycles around Galway city.

The event particularly welcomes women on bikes, especially mums who want to get more confident cycling around the city before the school year begins, and women of all ages and abilities who are returning to cycling. The bike boom of 2020 is a result of these two groups buying bikes in Galway, and indeed across Ireland.

Galway Cycling Campaign hopes to encourage those who want to become more comfortable cycling and those who would enjoy some support as they gain confidence in cycling around the city.

Please register for this Saturday’s event for contract tracing purposes. Numbers are limited. People who arrive on the day without signing-up will not be accommodated.

Event details

Saturday 18 July 2020
10.30am – 12 noon 
Meet: Claddagh Hall, Nimmo’s Pier
Route: Galway city centre routes, detours, things to watch out for, and bike parking spots
Coffee & Cake: Cafe Bar Ciarlantini, Woodquay

Click on the image above to go to the registration page

The inaugural CycleCoffeeCake event took place last month and the sounds of chats and bell chimes was heard as the group cycled from the Claddagh Hall to Blackrock before enjoying coffee and cake sponsored by Kevin Nugent and Ground & Co in Salthill.

CycleCoffeeCake sponsor: Bar Italia Ciarlantini of Woodquay

This month, CycleCoffeeCake will again start at 10.30am at the Claddagh Hall and explore routes around the city centre, show useful detours away from major routes, and point out bike parking. The social cycle will end in Woodquay at Bar Italia Ciarlantini.

Lolita of Ciarlantini will sponsor coffee and cake for the first 15 registrations.

Lolita of Bar Italia Ciarlantini in Woodquay is sponsoring CycleCoffeeCake July edition.

Martina Callanan, spokesperson for Galway Cycling Campaign, said, “Cycling is an easy, fun activity for people of all ages and abilities. We want to show newbies and novices safe and pleasant bike trails across the city that end at local cafés where we can enjoy coffee, cake and chats.”

“As we kickstart the economy, we want to support our friends and neighbours who own local businesses, especially those that have safe and secure bicycle parking nearby,” she added.

Kevin Jennings, chairperson of the Galway Cycling Campaign, commented, “As we look ahead to schools reopening in a few weeks, we want to help parents, particularly mams, feel more comfortable cycling their kids to school, especially if they do not have a local Cycle Bus. CycleCoffeeCake is a great way for adults to meet with others who feel the same way and to share tips from more experienced people on bikes.”

As the route will be on roads shared with buses, vans and cars in the city centre, numbers will be limited and only those who have registered in advance will be able to participate.

Keep an eye on our social media @GalwayCycling on Twitter and Facebook.

Delicious coffee and cake awaits us at Bar Italia Ciarlantini, Woodquay

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

Opinion: The programme for government is like a visit from Santa for cyclists

COULD IT REALLY be that Santa has arrived six months and one week ahead of schedule? In the programme for government, we are told that €1 million euro a day, every day, will be invested in safer cycling and walking during the lifetime of the next government.

This Opinion piece first appeared in TheJournal.ie on Thursday 25 June, 2020.

Image: Sascha Kohlmann/Wikimedia

Not so long ago, buses, vans and Ford Cortinas vroomed through the towns and cities of Ireland. Just two decades later, we hope to move ever closer to safe strolling, an abundance of food offerings, street conversations, and bike bells. Investment in cycling and walking in the programme for government is a smart and progressive deal for transport, health and revitalising town centres.

Hopefully, this time next year, we will have spent €360 million on cycling and pedestrian infrastructure, more than has ever been spent before. Investing almost €1 million a day, every day, for the lifetime of the programme for government means that people in Irish cities, towns, villages and suburbs will enjoy safer, more vibrant and attractive streets.

With an emphasis on quality and oversight, these efforts, if agreed and implemented, could make the places we live better for people, business, the environment and our sense of community.  

Cycling is the solution to a myriad of intimately intertwined social and economic problems of congestion, public health, and quality of life. And since cycling does not produce emissions, it reduces air pollution and carbon as well.

And as many of us rediscovered recently due to the coronavirus lockdown, cycling is social, fun, and inexpensive.

Cycling doesn’t make sense for everyone and that’s ok. But we want to get those within cycling distance to the places they need to be on a daily basis to feel cycling is a very real and very safe option. 

The bike boom of 2020

The bike boom of 2020 is a global phenomenon. Bicycles are sold as fast as they are assembled. People are waiting for bike orders to be delivered in August. Bike repair services are rammed.

With the absence of HGVs, vans, and the school commute during the lockdown, unoccupied roads turned into urban parks with families and small crews of happy teenagers strolling, cycling, and scooting.  Empty car parks became cycle training grounds for very young children. We have found that women, especially, felt a little braver when it came to cycling in this time:

“For the first time in 12 years,” said Anne Bedos of Café Rothar in Dublin’s Phibsborough, “we are selling more bikes to women than to men.”

Bikes are selling as fast as they can be assembled. Pictured: West Ireland Cycling, Galway’s Westend

More space, less speed

Everyone is a pedestrian, whether they’re standing at the bus stop or walking to their car. A safe street is where you’d let your five-year-old play with peace of mind. According to Prof. Kevin Leyden of NUI Galway, ‘‘If we want to get more people cycling, we need to make cycling feel safer. Key to that is slowing the speed of cars and providing a cycling infrastructure that reduces the probability that cyclists will be killed or injured by motorists.”  

If this programme for government goes ahead, towns with smart travel strategies will have funding and expertise to develop comprehensive networks of safe paths and attractive lanes connecting commuters to their workplaces and children and teenagers on safe routes to their schools. 

Residential areas need to be conveniently connected to retail and recreational spaces. Protected footpaths and cycle lanes need to be considered as ‘mobility lanes’ and be comfortable for people using wheelchairs, adapted bicycles and adult tricycles.

The seven new Regional Cycle Design Offices promised in the programme would expand and enhance the expertise available to support local authorities. Every local authority would be supported by a Cycling Officer. Along with the funding, this emphasis on expertise and quality infrastructure would be a game-changer.

Slow down

The commitment to reduce speed limits doesn’t grab headlines, yet slower speeds and their enforcement are a huge part of what it takes to get more people cycling and walking.

Mairéad Forsythe of Love 30, Ireland’s campaign for lower speed limits, says, “Reducing speed limits in towns, villages and cities to 30 km/h will make our roads safer for people walking and cycling. It lowers the risk of collisions and the risk of injuries. Most important of all, slower streets make our neighbourhoods more pleasant places to live, shop, and work, and for children to play.”

Dublin City already has cross-party support for a 30 km/h speed limit almost everywhere within the M50. If our capital city can decide to do this, so can every town, village and suburb. 

We want more people cycling, and more types of people cycling. Measuring only fatalities and injuries is crude. We need ambitious targets for children cycling to primary and secondary school, in particular teenage girls. In Ireland, just 2.1% of teenagers cycle to secondary school. In The Netherlands, that figure is 75%. 

Lessons from abroad

Fianna Fáil, Fine Gael and the Green Party have clearly incorporated international evidence into the programme for government. From Seattle to Sydney, cities are being radically reshaped in favour of people walking and cycling.

The Belgian port city of Ghent implemented a light, quick and cheap traffic circulation plan in 2017 and witnessed a 60% rise in cycle use. It reached its target of 35% cycling last year, 13 years earlier than planned for. There has been a 17% increase in restaurant and bar startups.

Galway city, towns and villages will now have the funds and expertise to build connected networks of safe and separate cycle baths. Photo: Galway Tourism

Before coronavirus, the Mayor of Paris unveiled her plans to transform Paris into a ‘15-minute city’ of self-sufficient neighbourhoods with grocery shops, parks, sports facilities, and schools just a walk or bike-ride away.  

Since then, Mayor Anne Hidalgo has urged ‘those who can’ to cycle plus announced a €300 million investment to install up to 650 km of new temporary and permanent bicycle lanes. This is about three times the length of the total Paris Métro network.

Return on investment

European research last year showed that every 1-kilometre drive costs the public purse €0.11 in terms of congestion, pollution, and time. Every 1-kilometre cycle brings a benefit of €0.18. Walking is even better. Each 1-kilometre walk adds €0.37 to economy and society in terms of improved public health, tourism, and quality of life.

Journey times

More than 23,000 people live within a 10 minutes cycle of Carlow Post Office, for instance. Over half of all journeys by adults in Ireland are 6 km or less, according to the Central Statistics Office. This is a comfortable distance on a bike for most people – providing you have a bike and a safe route to go where you want to go.

Over 76,000 people in Galway City live within a 30 min gentle cycle of Eyre Square. E-bikes will make commuting easier from Oranmore, Bearna and beyond.

Get bikes, get cycling

We need to help people purchase bikes and get cycling. The Cycle to Work Scheme is a good start. The same wide access for e-car grants must be made possible for bike grants. New help to buy e-bikes and cargo bikes is particularly welcome. Bike share schemes should be expanded and include e-bikes and e-scooters. 

“Sharing schemes are low cost and e-bikes help cities reduce congestion and meet climate change targets,” says Colin Barry, founder of Brite Mobility, Galway. “The motor’s assistance level attracts users who would have been afraid of the exertion of cycling before.”

So, what happens now?

Immediately, each local authority will be mandated to assess where road space can be re-allocated for walking and cycling. We want plans to be audited for quality and involve input from local communities.

Bike parking

Already, we have heard government radio ads asking us to cycle and walk where possible. Children need to be able to park their bikes at sports grounds.

Like wildflowers, we expect to see bike parking sprouting up everywhere – outside local shops, cafés, retail parks, parks, and beaches. Wherever bikes are tied to poles, there should be bike parking.

Bikes are good for business

Local businesses can request installation of quality bicycle stands from their local authorities. Customers by bike are local and loyal. Cycle parking delivers five times the retail spend per square metre than the same area of car parking, according to Transport for London research

Safe cycling for all

By this time next year, I hope we will have experienced a major cultural shift in transport policy, in moving people safely and sustainably around our towns, villages and cities. Cycling will be seen as the solution to congestion, a key contributor to better public health, and a powerful tool in developing a better quality of life for all of our people. 

Cycling has arrived and there’s no going back. Let’s pedal onwards to our new normal.

Martina Callanan is the spokesperson for Galway Cycling Campaign and a member of the Executive Council of Cyclist.ie – the Irish Cycling Advocacy Network, helps organise CycleCoffeeCake for women and novices on bikes, works in strategic communications, and tweets at @MartinaCallanan and @GalwayCycling.

CycleCoffeeCake celebrates cycling during lockdown

The second CycleCoffeeCake social cycle for women and novices on bikes will take place this Saturday morning, 27 June 2020. Please join us, especially if you or someone you know is new to cycling or has hopped back on the saddle since lockdown.

Register here for CycleCoffeeCake #2 event hosted by Galway Cycling Campaign. This is a gentle, inclusive cycle for adults new to cycling or who would like some support to become more confident cycling everyday around Galway. All ages and abilities are welcome.

We particularly want to support women as Covid-19 research shows that there has been a surge in women cycling and women are the biggest group of new-bike buyers.

Event details

Saturday, 27 June 2020
10.30 am – 12 noon
Start: Claddagh Hall, Nimmo’s PierRoute: Grattan Road, city centre and canals
Destination: Woodquay

Sponsor: Bar Italia Ciarlantini

Grazie to Bar Italia Ciarlantini, Woodquay, for sponsoring this second edition of #CycleCoffeeCake

And a very special Happy 4th Birthday to Lolita and all the staff at Ciarlantini. Congratulazioni! Thank you for creating a little piece of Italy in Galway.

Bar Italia Ciarlantini – a little piece of Italy in bustling Woodquay, Galway

CycleCoffeeCake celebrates a pedal-away success

The first CycleCoffeeCake held today was a pedal-away success. The event, which filled registration within 24 hours of its announcement, shows the latent desire for people of all ages and abilities to gain confidence for cycling on roads, learning safe cycling skills, and enjoy being part of an everyday cycling community. Participants included a man using a recumbent  trike, a proudly self-identifying ‘oldie’, and Snoopy the dog in a bike basket. The sound of bell chimes and happy chats as people cycled side-by-side was pure joy.

CycleCoffeeCake participants enjoying coffee and cake at Ground & Co Salthill – Photo by Paula Healy

Thank you to all who joined us for the first ever #CycleCoffeeCake this morning. It was thrilling to have people of all ages and abilities with a mix of regulars and newbies on bikes join us for a gentle and including Saturday morning spin for coffee and cake.

New bikes and golden oldies

Eimear Ní Fhlatharta, who bought her bike only a fortnight ago, said the experience helped her feel empowered and more confident about taking space while cycling on-road.

Martina Callanan, spokesman for the Galway Cycling Campaign and creator of CycleCoffeeCake, said that this tweet was the reason for doing what we do.

Eimear’s experience is why we set up this social cycling event. We want to enable confidence in people who are new to cycling, or hopping back on the saddle after years or maybe decades. We want to share skills and tips while connecting people with a caring and fun everyday cycling community.

Martina Callanan, spokesperson for Galway Cycling Campaign and creator of CycleCoffeeCake

Before the group departed the start point, a participant asked, “When is the next event?” Gesturing at her red bike with a wicker bike basket, she said, “I’m as old as this bike. I want to cycle!” 

The group asked for CycleCoffeeCake to be a fortnightly event during the summer. We are delighted to respond to this request, and so the next event will take place on Saturday 27 June at 10.30am.

Registration details along with the start point and route details will be announced the week beginning Sunday 20 June.

Route details

The route today went from Nimmo’s Pier to Blackrock before ending in Salthill village with coffee and cake at Ground & Co.

Instead of the off-road cycle path on the shoreline of the Swamp, the group cycled entirely on-road. This is because a kissing gate from Nimmo’s Pier to the Swamp is a Covid-19 contact concern as well as being a mobility obstacle for people with bikes, and in particular, our participant who uses a recumbrent trike.

A recumbent tricycle is a bicycle in which the rider sits in a laid back position while riding it, with their feet in front of them, and has three wheels – File photo

Event partners

Special thanks to Martyna Cwiertnia from An Mheitheal Rothar for giving a terrific bike maintenance talk, which focused on the safety M Check.

The M Check by Velo City, an annual international cycling conference by European Cyclists’ Federation

Check out Martyna’s bike mechanic YouTube channel, Rainbow Bikes, which has helpful easy-to-do bike maintenance tips as well as videos on vintage bicycle restorations.

High Nelly restoration process 2019 by Martyna Cwiertnia on her YouTube channel, Rainbow Cycles

It was easy to choose Ground & Co Salthill as our first event partner. The Aquarium Building is a great location in Salthill with lots of space and seats outside to enjoy our complimentary coffee and cake.

Since coronavirus and lifting of lockdown, 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, owner of Ground & Co Salthill

As well as the event group, many more people on bikes were curious about the event and tagged along behind and joined us for coffee and chats.

Importantly for us, this local café has an abundance of secure bike racks, which we filled.

An abundance of bikes securely parked outside Ground & Co Salthill – Photo by Paula Healy

Next event

CycleCoffeeCake will be a regular fortnightly event by the Galway Cycling Campaign during the summer. 

We want to help people feel more confident cycling about town and to and from residential and recreational areas. 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

Cake bike trails will be explored across the city, especially those that end 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.

As we reopen society after the coronavirus lockdown, we want to support local businesses, especially those that have safe and secure bicycle parking outside.

Martina Callanan, creator of CycleCoffeeCake

We welcome suggestions of routes and local businesses in the comments below, via email [email protected] or through DM on Twitter.

Save the date!

The next event will take place on Saturday 27 June at 10.30am. A registration link will be live in the week before the event.

If you would like to become part of Galway’s everyday cycling community, join the Galway Cycling Campaign for a €10 or a €5 contribution.

Until then, pedal on!

The view from Nimmo’s Pier across the the Long Walk – Photo by Eimear Ní Fhlatharta