The Art of the Possible: Galwegian leads technical design of dlr’s Coastal Mobility Route

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.

Conor Geraghty, Technical Lead for the dlr Coastal Mobility Route

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 should be appointed before new city development plan begins

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.

‘Crazy’ 80kmph speed limit outside Boleybeg primary school

Locals have expressed concerns over proposals by Galway City Council to set a “crazy” 80kmph speed limit outside the gate of a Galway City primary school.

St Joseph’s primary school and Naíonra Cháit

In the draft speed limit bye-laws, the council has designated all of Rahoon Road west of Clybaun Road as 80kmph, including the section outside the site of Scoil Naomh Sheosaimh primary school and naíonra in Boleybeg. This would make it the only school in Galway City with an 80kmph speed limit outside the school gate. 

Neil O’Leary, parent of a child at the naíonra, said, “It’s crazy that Galway City Council would even consider making this section of road 80kmph. There are hundreds of children arriving at the school gates here every day. Yet the bicycle rack remains empty as parents choose to drive to school because it feels safer, and who could blame them? If a child is hit by a vehicle whizzing by at 80kmph, a socially distant funeral is all but guaranteed. At 30kmph, that same child has a 90% chance of surviving and returning to the playground.”

“I cycle my son to and from here most days and I know other parents would like to do the same, or walk with their kids, but don’t feel safe enough to do so. A lower speed limit would make for a much less hostile road environment, help attract more parents out of their cars and fill up the bike-rack at the school” said Mr O’Leary. 

Public consultation on the proposed speed limit bye-laws is open until 16th September. Any concerns or proposals to Galway City Council can be made at http://bit.ly/galwaycityspeedlimits

Cycle Bus recognised as international changemakers

The Galway Cycle Bus is delighted to announce it has been invited to join the ChangeX community. The Knocknacarra-based initiative promotes active travel for school children by experienced volunteers, parents and teachers escorting children to school by bike at various ‘pick up’ points in housing estates en route from Cappagh Road to Knocknacarra NS and Gaelscoil Mhic Amhlaigh near Millers Lane.

ChangeX provides turnkey solutions for companies investing in communities worldwide. It is a platform that gets proven ideas and funding directly to anyone ready to lead impactful projects in their communities. The Galway Cycle Bus joins Irish Men’s Sheds and Playworks Ireland in the ChangeX community. 

The Galway Cycle Bus’s step-by-step 51-page guide to creating a cycle bus has been used by families and schools across Ireland from Dublin to Leitrim and Limerick. It is now available online to an international community. 

‘We’re thrilled to have been asked to join the ChangeX platform and we hope that other communities all over Ireland and abroad will use our Cycle Bus experience and  to create similar initiatives facilitating more active travel for primary school children,” said Alan Curran, parent, teacher, and co-organiser. “We also welcome financial and in-kind support from local businesses.”

“Cycling to school with your classmates and neighbours is an ordinary thing yet absolutely fun. We start off every day brimming with joy. It’s just great,” said Neasa Bheilbigh, also a local parent, teacher, and co-organiser. “Our Galway Cycle Bus continues to grow and it’s wonderful that from now it will bring even more communities across the world together.” 

July Stimulus can change Galway cityscape: bike racks will be like wildflowers – popping up everywhere

Our chairperson Kevin Jennings outlines what the ‘big pot of July Stimulus mobility funding’ can do to create jobs and #ChangeOurStreets

Bike parking and flowers from West Midlands Big Summer of Cycling and Walking campaign, funded by Transport for West Midlands in order to keep the region moving during the COVID-19 recovery phases and beyond.

The government’s July Stimulus programme has created opportunities to quickly change our streets by creating more facilities for people who walk, wheel and cycle, according to the Galway Cycling Campaign. With funding available from the National Transport Authority, local contractors can be hired to implement shovel-ready projects, and so immediately boost employment while making  safer streets. 

“We understand that the big pot of July Stimulus mobility funding will fully cover the provision of new cycle tracks, bike parking, reducing road widths at crossing points and raised zebra crossings,” says chairperson Kevin Jennings.

“The public engagement process during the first City Mobility Team’s tenure showed overwhelming support for the need for more public space to walk to the local shops, cycle to GAA training, and go about  daily business throughout the city.”

“We hope to see bike parking racks pop up everywhere, like wildflowers. Anywhere there is a bike tied to a pole, that shows the need for secure and shelter bicycle parking. We encourage local shops, supermarkets, cafés and restaurants to ask the Council to install bike racks at their businesses. Bicycles should never obstruct footpaths.”

Relevant legislation gives Council Executives power to be quick and nimble in reallocating road and street space. Ne

#iBikeSalthill

“Dún Laoghaire-Rathdown County Council’s vision and ambition to reallocate public space in order to support residents and local businesses is inspiring,” says Mr Jennings. 

“We understand from our councillors that the Salthill Cycleway is still a possibility within reach. We have written to the Council to suggest that they make contact with DLRCC and arrange a tour for some Council and business representatives to examine the two-way cycleway from Blackrock to Sandycove via Dublin’s Salthill to see first-hand what is possible. DLRCC and local businesses have worked closely together and residents and visitors are reaping the benefits.”

Neasa Bheilbigh and her son MacDara. Photo:-Mike Shaughnessy

Neasa Bheilbigh of the Galway School Cycle Bus says,” With the imminent reopening of schools and public health advice continuing to recommend walking and cycling where possible, many parents will want an alternative to families cocooning in their cars at school gates.”

She continues, “July Stimulus funds specifically provide money for reducing road widths at crossing points and raised zebra crossings, which will help children cross roads more safely on their school routes in the city centre and suburbs.” 

“We suggest that schools and parents contact their local councillors to make requests to the Council for safer routes to school.”

Read the story in the Galway Advertiser, 13 August 2020