— 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.
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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.”
"We are disappointed that our councillors have not asked the chief executive to apply for special Covid-19 funds through the National Transport Authority, which would fund the proposed pop-up cycle lane along the Prom, plus more pedestrian crossings and extensive bike parking. pic.twitter.com/uIGqIMkIow— Galway Cycling Campaign (@GalwayCycling) July 16, 2020