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Galway: We have tried cars… what will we try next?… more cars

COMMENT & ANALYSIS: When discussing Galway some people who have visited it have seen little outside the city centre — that goes some way to explain why they have a better impression of the city than locals in terms of sustainable transport.

Some people, it seems, only go from the train and bus station, walk to the Shop Street area, stay there and go back to Dublin or wherever they have come from.

At 6% of resident commuters cycling as their main mode of transport, Galway has the second largest modal share of cycling among Irish cities. In Dublin it’s often said that people cycle in spite of the conditions — overall in Galway, that seems far more the case.

Cycling will never suit everybody for every trip, but it can play part of a mix of sustainable transport. The thing is, Galway has not in any notable way tried to provide for sustainable transport. The classic example I always think of is the bus stop across from GMIT — there’s no safe pedestrian crossing to it.

At one end of the road on front of GMIT is this reckless disregard for pedestrians: This image just about lets you imagine how bad it is to cross when there’s busy or fast-moving traffic — and there’s usually one or the other or both here:

The above image is at the location circled in blue in the Google Maps image below. The bus stop shown with the blue pin and the nearest crossing (and only signalised crossing shown) is circled in red:

The message for students in the layout to the bus stop is clear: Get a car. The same kind of thing can be found around the city:

If you do manage to get a bus towards Eyre Square the likelihood is that your bus will be delayed closer to it. Central Galway approaching the square has no bus priority worth mentioning.

There’s been a programme of roundabout removal in the city with claims that these will be walking and cycling friendly. But that has turned out not to be the case:

Then there’s cycle routes…

Galway’s Doughiska Road — the location of the famous many yield points in a cycle track photograph — has to seen to believed. It’s a good example of Galway outside the city centre and a prime example of how poorly Galway City Council has provided for cycling over recent decades.

These are just two examples of many. So many people drive in Galway because the other options are so desperate.

Dublin has slowly started to change — at least when people on buses are stuck in traffic the general reaction is giving that bus priority. In Galway, people keep saying things like ‘we need a bypass before we get bus lanes’.

Somehow the solution to getting priority to sustainable transport is to spend €600m on a second ring road. When the city already has large roads away from the city centre and there’s no major population centre west of the city, this is all 1970s road planning thinking.

The Government and Galway’s local authorities are planning a road which is predicted to increase emissions. And for what? Only 3% of traffic in the city is through-traffic, as this extract from official documents show:

It is claimed that the bypass is needed to get cars out of the city but the Galway Transport Strategy (with the bypass at its centre) is a plan to decrease the modal share of cycling and increase the share of driving:

This is predictable. It’s called induced demand:

Yet, regardless of climate change and all logic, officialdom is still focused on building its way out of a problem which will only be made worse by such action.

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Cian Ginty

1 comment

  1. Great article,very insightful.
    To add to your website,I would like to hi light the n82 junction at the turn off for parkmore industrial estate,.at this junction every evening I see people waiting for a lift on the hard shoulder of n82,i.e. the tuam road,
    The speed limit is 100kph
    No lighting what so ever
    With winter fast approaching it is a very dangerous spot to be standing.
    It is difficult to understand why no thought is given to the thousands of young workers who have to make their way to work in parkmore 24 /7


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