Councillors vote against temporary cycle path in Galway’s Salthill despite “over-whelming” public support

Over 200 of 1,400 public submissions for COVID-19 mobility measures were for Salthill cycle path.

Galway City Council councillors this week voted 5 to 12 against what council officials described as “over-whelming” public support for a cycle path in Salthill in the city, because it was opposed by what is understood to be a small group of business owners.

The Galway Cycling Campaign expressed its disappointment and said that “the status quo remains: families will continue to share the road with buses, cars, and vans”.

The 12 councillors who voted against were Fianna Fáil councillors Alan Cheevers, Imelda Byrne, Frank Fahy, Michael Crowe, John Connolly, and Peter Keane; Fine Gael councillors Clodagh Higgins, and Eddie Hoare; Labour councillor Níall Mc Nelis; and independent councillors Terry O’Flaherty, Donal Lyons, and Noel Larkin.

In favour were independent councillors Mike Cubbard and Colette Connolly; Social Democrats councillors Owen Hanley; and Green Party councilors Niall Murphy and Martina O’Connor. 

After the vote last Monday, Galway City Council management issued a striking statement explaining the situation from their point-of-view.

The statement from council officials said: “In May 2020, a transport led City Mobility Team was set up in Galway City Council (GCCMT) for the purposes of considering and agreeing short/medium term temporary mobility interventions in the city. This was done in the context of the Government’s response to COVID-19 which resulted in changed travel patterns and a requirement for safe social distancing in public spaces. To facilitate this, local authorities were charged with reallocating some road space specifically for walking and cycling purposes.”

The statement continued: “An extensive public engagement exercise was undertaken on-line from the outset by the GCCMT, which resulted in over 1400 submissions being received. There was over-whelming support for the provision of dedicated cycling infrastructure with over 200 submissions alone specifically requesting the installation of a temporary ‘pop-up’ cycle lane in Salthill. The GCCMT agreed that the delivery of this temporary facility would benefit a significant number of users so its progression was agreed as a priority in the Phase 1 Implementation Plan.”

“An in-house team was established to design the temporary cycle lane in full consultation with the Gardai. A Safety Audit was completed and funding was committed by the National Transport Authority under their special Covid-19 Interim Mobility Measures Fund. The dedicated cycle lane was proposed on both sides of the road from the Grattan Road junction near the Galway Business School to Sea Point and onwards to Blackrock. Cycle specific traffic calming measures, signage and road markings were also proposed from Grattan Road to Wolfe Tone Bridge to give greater priority to cyclists sharing this road with vehicles,” the council said.

It said: “Following extensive engagement with businesses in the Salthill area, who were not in favour of the temporary cycle lane proposals as advanced, Galway City Council at a Council Meeting that took place on the 13th July, 2020, rejected these proposals. The Chief Executive has indicated that the City Council can still implement this cycle lane as designed if consensus can be achieved, subject to funding still being available in accordance with the provisions of the roads act.”

The council statement added: “The Chief Executive also indicated that the 2016 Preliminary Report on the Proposed Barna Greenway can no longer be implemented as was proposed at that time. Work on a new design for this project will take place as part of the proposed flood defence scheme (CFRAM) for Salthill as well as a revised traffic management plan for the area including an upgraded public transport route. Due to the complexity of the several legislative processes involved in delivering these cross cutting infrastructural projects in an environmentally sensitive area, it will take several years to significantly advance progress the formal planning of these projects including the delivery of the proposed Greenway towards Barna which will also have to link to the proposed new Dublin to Galway Greenway as part of the cross city element of this.”

Local cycling campaigners have responded with disappointment and staged a quickly organised protest cycle in Salthill on Tuesday last. 

Martina Callanan, spokesperson of the Galway Cycling Campaign said: “The people of Galway have clearly said, ‘We want a safe cycle lane on the Prom for our families during Covid-19.’ Over 200 of the 1400 public submissions for Covid mobility measures received by the Council were for a Salthill cycle lane. Yesterday, our flashmob gathering on the Prom vibrantly showed that people of all ages and abilities want safe cycling and mobility infrastructure during Coronavirus.” 

“We are disappointed that our Councillors have not asked the Chief Executive to apply for special Covid-19 funds through the National Transport Authority (NTA), which would fund the proposed pop-up cycle lane along the Prom, plus more pedestrian crossings and extensive bike parking. Given that future permanent cycle facilities are now tied to the development of flood defences, nothing will happen in Salthill for years and years. The status quo remains: families will continue to share the road with buses, cars, and vans.”

Callanan added: “Now, we must turn our energies towards creating safe routes to schools when they reopen at the end of August. Social distancing will be with us for as long as this killer virus is present. We need to enable children and teenagers to walk and cycle safely to school, especially as bus capacity has shrunk and parents may have concerns about car-pooling between different families.”

 

I am editor of IrishCycle.com and have reported on and commented on cycling in Ireland for over a decade. My background is in journalism -- I have a BA in Journalism from DCU and HDip in Print Journalism from BCFE. I wrote about cycling for national newspapers, and then started CyclingInDublin.com for overflow stories. Later the website was re-branded to reflect a more national focus.

4 Comments

  1. Disappointed isn’t the word that should be used. It’s far too bland and passive a description. The cycling groups should have expressed their indignation at this situation more forcibly. A small group of people have ridden roughshod over the expressed wishes of many. They should have said they were disgusted at the outcome.

  2. We need to be careful of the terminology used in relation to improvements associated with covid. If we allow the word temporary to feature in relation to all changes to cycling and walking facilities then when the virus is contained or controlled we can expect the business and motoring lobbies to insist on returning to how things were pre covid as has largely happened in the phoenix park.
    Our best chance of keeping the momentum going is to frame the improvements in terms of a richer quality of life in our towns and cities where greater safety due to a reduction of carnage and pollution would reduce deaths and illness. The greater independence of out children who could safely cycle to school etc leading to better health should be seen as a desirable outcome and car drivers should be told that every car journey replaced by walking or cycling is a reduction of traffic.
    If we allow the current improvements to be rolled back we will find it very hard to ever again make our towns into living space for people rather than space for cars to move,park and pollute.

  3. FFS. FF stuck in the last century putting parking spaces over valuable community resources. These clowns need to get over the unfounded objections of a handful of loudmouths and get on with delivering on the basis of the common good rather than the perceived good of their pals or they will be out on their ears before long, this time for good. Una Mulally is not someone I always agree with, but her assessment in todays IT of Fianna Fails performance in government so far from stroke politics to joke politics is correct. If they don’t stop squabbling, read the writing on the wall and get their sh*t together soon they will be history.

  4. Contrast this depressingly small minded business-as-usual approach with the overwhelmingly positive reception of the Dun Laoghaire temporary greenway approved in very similar circumstances. Also interesting to note that the City centre ward councillors in whose area the cycle path would have been located were split 50/50. It was the councillors from other city areas that overturned a decision they should really have had no part in.

    Galwegians that are disappointed by this decision should take a long hard look at their voting papers at the next council elections, taking note of who voted against this and which parties would be likely to vote in favour in the future.

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