Among loads of plans for traffic calming, and using traffic calming laws, Galway City Council are pushing apparent cycling unfriendly “traffic management” changes to a key entry point to the city centre from its western suburbs.
The first image below shows what a section of Father Griffin Road in Galway City could look like. The road is a key route into and around the city centre from places such as Salthill, which has 9% cycling modal share.
But it’s not to be, the city has different plans. Graphics thanks to streetmix.net and based on the street being around ~15m wide (it’s wider if grass verges and parking is included).
For context, here’s the current view of the triangle block in Galway that makes up part of Father Griffin Road, Fairhill and Raven Terrace:
And below is a view of Father Griffin Road from Street View.
Note how drivers currently keep away from the edge of the road, which means at peak times cyclists are less affected by congestion and when traffic is in full-flow there’s room to pass cyclists safety:
Next below is a layout map of what will become of the triangle once Galway City Council’s “traffic management plan” for the block goes ahead:
On the positive side we have:
- A section of footpath which is massively improved on Father Griffin Road
- Bits of wider footpaths on Fairhill
- A more accessible and hopefully safer crossing point on Fairhill
- More defined parking and loading across the block
But the negatives outnumber the positives:
- Lanes on Father Griffin Road are narrowed causing cyclist/motorist conflicts when these roads are flowing and encouraging cyclists to take to footpaths as the roads will be blocked at peak times
- The same happens on Fairhill and the crossing point on Fairhill looks like it will form an acute pinch-point for cyclists when motorists attempt to overtake.
- Raven Terrace one-way direction reversed and direct access to Father Griffin Road blocked off – forcing cyclists to go around the long way on now multi-laned roads.
- Parking/loading provided over the choice of contra-flow cycle track on Raven Terrace.
- The unnamed (?) side road to the left of the image is being made one-way and a through route — as wells as being poor for cyclists, it’s increased speed and traffic is bad for pedestrians and bad for residents living on the street.
- The radius of a number of junction corners seem to be left unnecessarily wide.
So, why do we say in our headline that Galway City Council can’t be blamed for this anti-cycling design? Simple, going by guidelines, they seem to be doing nothing wrong. The guidelines in the Design Manual for Urban Roads & Streets — like its UK counterpart — promotes road / lane narrowing and also pushes one-way street without forcing councils to think about enough cyclists.
It’s no longer good enough to say the manual leaves many options open — because leaving too many options open all the time has been and continues to be a core problem with Irish street design.