— Fine Gael and Fianna Fail councillors request that work on another station should also be stalled
— Councillors blame National Transport Authority for lack of consultation, but campaigners say city council officials have responsibility
City councillors in Galway have forced the removal of one of the largest docking stations in the soon-to-be launched bicycle share system in the city.
The partly-constructed station on University Road is to be removed and parking is to be restored. A second docking station at Forster Street is to be delayed until an unspecified time next year, while a third is to be re-located away from houses but is still to go ahead on the same street.
“Disappointing to learn that the Galway Public Bike Share Scheme will launch without the planned stands on University Road (30 stands) and Forster Street (15 stands). The network has lost one of its three largest stands before roll-out,” the Galway Cycling Campaign said on Facebook and Twitter.
Local sources said this week that regional cities schemes, which officially were confirmed last month as delayed by up to 6 months, is being rolled out “at a Glacial pace”. Last month, the National Transport Authority said that the Galway system is to be opened the week of November 10 — while the authority said that public rental bikes are to be on the streets of Limerick before the end of the month, and Cork in by mid-December. It’s unclear if bikes will be on the streets of any of the cities by the target dates.
The exclusion, delay, and re-location of public bike rental stations in Galway was confirmed in a letter sent to city councillors based in the city centre ward — it was signed Joe O’Neill, director of services at Galway City Council’s transportation and planning.
In the letter, O’Neill states that: “The focus of this work was on finding practical solutions which would address legitimate concerns while preserving the integrity of the scheme, and the outcome is as follows: The Station at Forster Street is not to be installed in 2014. It will be installed in 2015 as part of the Fair Green Road Scheme…. The Station on University Road will be removed and road reinstated…”
The University Road location would have served the city’s university and university hospital. Relating to that location, O’Neill writes: “We will have further discussions with NUI [National University of Ireland] Galway regarding the inclusion of the campus in the scheme… Discussions to begin with UHG [University Hospital Galway] to locate a station on HSE property at the Newcastle Road side.”
The letter also states that works are to proceed on new location at Fr Griffin Road “as agreed locally”; that works at Merchants Road to resume “but with Station moved from in front of residential properties” and “Parking to be restored”; that works on Mainguard Street is to continue as planned, and that a revised scheme for the station in front of City Hall is “to take account of the statue and hedges.”
Galway Bay FM reported today that Cllr Padraig Conneely (Fine Gael) — who has labeled people who cycle bicycles “cowboys” — and Cllr Ollie Crowe (Fianna Fail) said that the Mainguard Street location requires greater consultation and that works should be stalled in the meantime.
A report from Galway Bay FM, said: “Cllr Billy Cameron said the NTA has been found lacking due to a lack of consultation.” Cllr Cameron — who led calls to stall works on stations — has previously said it was “absolutely crazy” removing parking spaces for docking stations and said that people would not be able to put out their bins for collection.
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Cllr Cameron also claimed that there was “no consultation whatsoever with local residents” — but public consultation had been conducted by Galway City Council and the location was listed in that process. A separate local media report shows how Cllr Cameron said he assumed that the docking location was going in a different location on the street, telling the Galway City Tribune: “…When they talked about University Road I assumed it would be on the other side of the road across…”.
The Galway Cycling Campaign said on Facebook: “Interesting city councillors are trying to blame the NTA rather than ask questions of the local City Officials who have responsibility for the project.”