Galway bicycle share failings blamed on removal of key station and on-way streets

Because Galway City Council decided to omit planned docking stations and ignore recommendations on cycling on one-way streets, the Coca-Cola Zero Bikes scheme in Galway was always going to be off to a rocky start, campaigners have said.

The Galway Cycling Campaign said they welcomed the scheme but its success was “in doubt from the start” because of the failings of the council. They were responding to the news that Galway’s public bicycle system is the least-used scheme out of the four across Ireland.

Robert Mc Kenny, chairman of the Galway Cycling Campaign, said: “City Hall, in a last minute U-turn, removed one of the three largest docking stations from the scheme due to concerns over loss of 4–5 car parking spaces. The decision to completely remove a station capable of holding up to 30 bicycles, one of only three of that size, clearly showed the priorities of City Hall at the time. UHG and NUIG lost their primary docking station link to the city centre even before rollout.”

Hello... sorry to interrupt you: IrishCycle.com is reader-funded journalism supported by just over 250 readers like you -- they have subscribed for €5 per month or more. If you can, please join them and subscribe today. If you have already subscribed -- thank you! Now, back to the article...

The campaign pointed out that only 13 stations out of 15 originally planned stations are operational in Galway and that the greatest distance is between stations at Fr Burke Road and City Hall, which are 1.7km apart.

The group said if city had the same number of stations as Limerick (23), or Cork (31), and if the one-way streets issue were dealt with, “then it could match those cities’ usage numbers”. As we have reported, Cork installed contra-flow on a number of its city centre streets before the Coca-Cola Zero Bikes scheme arrived in that city.

“One-way streets lead to long detours for cyclists,” campaign member Shane Foran explained. “There is a bike share station on Mainguard Street near St Nicholas Church. The distance to the next bike share station at Newtownsmith is 350m. Because of the one-way street system and a ban on cycling in the pedestrian zone, the return journey from Newtownsmith to Mainguard St. is 1.1km by the northern route and 2.1km by the southern route.”

One-way streets as a barrier to cycling in Galway has been an on-going campaigning issues which Galway City Council has not acted on. Campaigners point to the Jacobs Report, which was the initial feasibility study for the bike share scheme. It described the city as “awkward to navigate by bike” and recommended providing two-way cycling on one-way streets – a common feature in other European cities.

“Two-way cycling on one-way streets has been in the City Development Plan for a decade now, and the Jacobs Report stressed its importance in its Executive Summary,” said Campaign PRO Oisín Ó Nidh. “If Galway City Council had followed the recommendations of the Jacobs Report, then Galway would not be in last place.”

As IrishCycle.com reported before the system launched in Galway, city councillors in Galway forced the removal of one of the largest docking stations outside the National Univerity of Ireland Galway. While this was one of the only docking stations outside the city centre, councillors claimed they wanted more docking stations in suburbs.

In August, the minister for transport announced 8 new Galway bike scheme stations, but no details have been made public to date. We have this morning requested further details from the National Transport Authority about this plan.

Hello Reader... IrishCycle.com is a reader-funded journalism publication. Effectively it's an online newspaper covering news and analyses of cycling and related issues, including cycle route designs, legal changes, and pollical and cultural issues.

There are examples, big and small, which show that the reader-funded or listener-funding model can work to support journalism -- from the Dublin Inquirer and The Guardian to many podcasts. To make it work for IrishCycle.com, it just needs enough people like you to believe!

Monthly subscriptions will give IrishCycle.com's journalism a dependable base of support. But please don't take free access for granted. Last year IrishCycle.com had an average of 15,800 readers per month and we know our readers include people who cycle and those who don't, politicians, officials and campaigners.

I know only a small percentage of readers will see the value of keeping this open enough to subscribe, that's the reality of the reader-funded model. But more support is needed to keep this show on the road.

The funding drive was started in November 2021 and, as of the start of February, 210 readers have kindly become monthly subscribers -- thank you very much to all that have!

But currently, it's only around 1.3% of readers who subscribe. So, if you can, please join them and subscribe today via ko-fi.com/irishcycle/tiers

Cian Ginty
Editor, IrishCycle.com

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.