Galway Cycling Campaign is joined by Minister of State at the Dept. of Climate Action and Transport Hildegarde Naughton to launch the Galway Supermarket Bike Parking Survey.
We know that many of you are living your lives more locally these days and probably using local supermarkets more often than usual. We in Galway Cycling Campaign want to find out about the quality of bike parking at these supermarkets.
The survey will establish a baseline, highlight areas for improvement, and guide supermarket management to invest in upgrading and enhancing their customers’ shopping experience.
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.
The Park and Stride initiative by Galway City Council in partnership with An Taisce-Green Schools is welcomed by the Galway Cycling Campaign and Galway Cycle Bus, yet they warn that this is only a baby step in creating safe routes to school for thousands of children across the city.
More radical measures are needed to ease front of school congestion and create space for social distancing, including vehicle-free entrance for children walking and cycling, discouraging or preventing illegal parking, widening footpaths, and providing new pedestrian crossings and cycleways.
The government’s July Stimulus provides funding from the National Transport Authority (NTA) to Local Authorities to widen footpaths, provide pedestrian crossings and cycleways, and other Covid-19 related works.
In addition to enabling active travel, such road works would boost business for local construction companies and contractors.
Park and Stride
Though Park and Stride is one suggested measure, it has a number of downsides, including creating extra administration for schools, not enabling a switch to active travel from children’s front doors, and lacking objective measures of success. It is widely accepted that Park and Stride to school schemes are better suited to rural or semi-rural areas, rather than our city centres and suburbs.
The Galway Cycle Bus has long advocated for School Streets. “A School Street is a road outside a school with a temporary restriction on motorised traffic at school drop-off and pick-up times,” explains Neasa Bheilbigh, a primary school teacher and co-organiser of the Galway School Cycle Bus.
“Local authorities have powers to use traffic management orders to turn a street into a pedestrian and cycle zone, or School Street, for specific times during the school drop and collection. A trial in Malahide last autumn was a terrific success and championed by then Mayor of Fingal, Cllr. Eoghan O’Brien of Fianna Fáil. It made the school run safer – and that was before coronavirus.”
Ms Bheilbigh voices concerns with the new initiative.
“Park and Stride only encourages people driving cars to park elsewhere within a 10 minute walk of the school. People driving cars can still park up at the school door. It does not compel a behaviour change like School Streets, which restricts vehicle access to schools. Schools have no jurisdiction outside their school gates and so have no power to enforce Park and Stride, or illegal parking on footpaths and double yellow lines.”
“Furthermore, we do not have plans from the council to provide protection from traffic, or more space for social distancing, outside school grounds,” she continues. “This is vital for families who have multiple start times due to staggering of school hours.”
“Child-centred schools begin on the school drop,” says Alan Curran of Galway School Cycle Bus, who is also a teacher at Coláiste Éinde on Threadneedle Road, Salthill. “Walking and cycling has to be a convenient and safe option.”
Bike parking at schools
He continues, “My concern as a second level teacher is the mixed messages about cycling and the impact on bike parking. While all the Covid-19 guidance is about encouraging children to walk or cycle where possible, schools cannot allow students to gather in groups.”
“Up to 80 teenagers cycle per day here at St Enda’s secondary school. We need guidance and funds to make safe and socially-distant bike parking. Some schools have re-allocated bike sheds to create additional classrooms, and so need a completely new provision of bike stands.”
Cycle lanes on school routes
“Temporary pop up cycle lanes on the access roads to schools should have been a priority for the city council prior to schools reopening from next Thursday,” says Kevin Jennings, chairperson of Galway Cycling Campaign and lecturer at NUI Galway.
“To facilitate safe cycling routes to schools, Dublin City Council is installing a 3.5km segregated cycle lane along Griffith Avenue. This will act as a ‘spine’ to local schools and DCU.
A similar 3.5km school route in Galway would stretch from Coláiste Éinde and Salerno in Salthill to city centre schools like The Bish, Our Lady’s College, and St Patrick’s, Mercy, and St Nicholas’ primary schools via a plethora of schools such as Scoil Éinde, Scoil Róis, Dominican College, Scoil Fhursa, St Mary’s College, and the Jes primary and secondary schools.
“There’s still time to create temporary cycle lanes en route to NUI Galway and GMIT,” he says. “Higher education institutions are busy planning some form of on-campus learning experience, which will be vital for incoming first year students. We need to protect their mental health, provide quality education, and create a community for them. Cycling is fun, sociable while appropriately distant, healthy, and smart in a university city.”
“Tweaks to pre-covid public realm and transport plans are not fit for purpose for our needs this autumn-winter,” concluded Mr Jennings. “One third of this city’s population goes to school at all levels as students or workers. We need better and safer routes to school.”
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.