Galway should follow university cities, such as Oxford and Cambridge in the UK or Delft and Groningen in the Netherlands, which have “traffic reduced” city centres, the Galway Cycling Campaign has said.
The city is widely seen as car-centric. While Galway has a relatively high level of commuting cycling, Galway City Council has been slower than other councils to look at major segregated cycle routes and measures such as contra-flow cycling provisions.
The campaign’s call was made in a submission to the Galway City Integrated Traffic Management Programme Consultation, which is part of the Galway bypass project. The latest bypass route is close to the city and residential areas and requires demolition of a large number of homes.
The project replaces the outer bypass which was not approved due to environmental issues. Critics say that public transport measures should have been looked at first and the route is mainly a “commuter freeway”, but supporters claim that the new road is vital for the city and region.
The Galway Cycling Campaign said: “The central vision put by the campaign is that Galway should be managed like other well known university cities. Their submission argues that Galway should see itself as the Oxford or Cambridge of Ireland. Likewise car-focused cities such as Los Angeles or Birmingham are poor models for Galway to follow. The cycle campaign argue for a system of traffic cells modelled on cities like Delft and Groningen with cars banned from crossing the city centre.”
It added: “The Salmon Weir bridge, O’Briens bridge and Wolfe Tone bridge would be closed to private cars but remain open to pedestrians, cyclists and public transport. Private traffic crossing the city would need to use the Quincentenial Bridge.”
It stressed that problematic road features “need to be removed or modified”. The campaign said: “Examples include roundabouts in the city which must be either removed or traffic calmed with raised zebra crossings. Substandard lane widths such as at traffic lights are also highlighted.
It also said that the “cul-de-sac based housing model needs to be dismantled” and, in some cases, it may be necessary to “purchase properties and demolish them in order to create a functional roads network”. It said: “Without this, walking, cycling and public transport are discouraged by excessively long travel distances. In addition, smaller schoolchildren must have traffic-free routes away from main roads if school-run congestion is to be tackled.”