Galway needs open debate on Salthill cycle path before vote, says campainers

— Campaigners across Ireland see repeated tactics used to hinder projects.

A vote on a proposed trial of a cycle path in Salthill this evening was deferred until the next Galway City Council meeting, which is expected to take place on September 27.

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It is procedure that the motion proposing the trial will now be on or near to the top of the agenda for the next meeting. According to a number of sources, the meeting ran out of time rather that anybody delaying it and the motion is proposed by Mayor Colette Connolly (independent), who chairs the council meetings.

The motion states: “That Galway City Council shall urgently seek to create a two way segregated cycle track on a temporary basis along the coastal side of Salthill promenade, specifically the R336 from the junction with Grattan Road up to where the R336 meets with the R337, and shall immediately apply for Covid-19 funding or any available alternative source of funding to facilitate this.”

As reported earlier today, transport and climate change Minister Eamon Ryan has said that the decision on whether the trial is to go ahead is the councillors’ to make, but that funding is available. He said: “If we can’t spend it in Galway we might spend it in Dublin, or Cork or Limerick. But I would love to invest in Galway.”

Despite what has been described as overwhelming public support for the trial, to-date there has been quiet lobbying by groups and individuals who have pushed for delaying the project into the long term.

Kevin Jennings, chairperson of the Galway Cycling Campaign, said all of the issues should be debated openly.

“To delay a cycle lane is to deny a cycle lane,” said Jennings. “Everybody in public supports cycling, everybody in public supports a greenway. But some groups want to tie flood defences to the greenway project — flood defences might be needed but it’s a separate project.”

Jennings said campaigners across the country talk to each other and see repeated tactics being used to hinder different projects. He said: “Often thsee arguments are in good faith, but sometimes they are used in bad faith too.”

“We welcome public discussion. There’s the same arguments in Sandymount, Deansgrange and the same arguments in Malahide [in Dublin],” said Jennings, who said that the next two weeks should be used to debate the issues in public.

Jennings said a permanent design such as the suggestion of tieing the cycle route project to flood defences would take years. He said: “I think the trial should go ahead immediately because the current situation is intolerable. A trial can be used to inform the more permanent designs.”

“There was no consultation about how the status quo of high car use on the prom has emerged; it is unsafe and unpleasant for people cycling and something can now be done about it. The trial will inform the ongoing consultation for the permanent greenway and might light a fire under that process, which has been ongoing for over two decades” he said.

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