— Gardai previously distance themself from a similar objection to a Cork greenway.
A Galway-based Senator has said that arguments that emergency services will be delayed due to the planned Salthill cycle path are “spurious” and pointed to the Coastal Mobility Route in Dublin where the two-way cycle path is usable in emergencies.
Such claims that emergency services will be delayed by cycling and walking infrastructure are made around the world, but are often found to be unfounded and not supported by data. For example, despite repeated claims otherwise, research on Low Traffic Neighbourhoods found that “there was no evidence that the introduction of LTNs was associated with a change in the response time” for fire engines.
Ahead of the end of public consultation today, the Galway City Tribune newspaper has used unnamed sources to report that it “understands that An Garda Síochána, the Ambulance Service and Fire Service raised these concerns at a meeting with city officials on Monday – and were due to lodge an objection to the proposals ahead of today’s (Friday) public consultation deadline.”
This morning, Senator Pauline O’Reilly (Green Party) said: “There are spurious arguments on the front page of the City Tribune this week that cyclelanes interfere with emergency services. NO THEY DON’T. Two way cycle lanes can actually help my providing a free lane. I’d urge councillors not to spread this incorrect message #Salthill.”
The Senator quote tweeted Robert Burns, who previously headed cycling infrastructure in Dún Laoghaire-Rathdown County Council. Last year, he posted the above image of the ambulance and said: “And no indications that walking and cycling interventions cause delays to emergency services in Ireland, either. In fact, 2-way cycle lanes can act as a free lane for the faster movement of emergency vehicles, like on the #CoastalMobilityRoute in #dlrcc.”
Carol Byrne, north western communications coordinator at the Garda Press Office, said: “An Garda Síochána is not providing comment on this matter, a public consultation process is ongoing and that will need to take its course.”
IrishCycle.com has asked the Garda Press Office is national senior management could comment on the issue of Gardai locally apparently going against the National Road Safety Strategy, which includes building segregated cycle paths, and how Option 2 for the Salthill Cycle path would reduce emergency times given that it for the most part replaces car parking with a cycle path.
This website also asked if the submission mentioned in a local newspaper report is or will be an official Garda response to the public consultation.
This last question was asked because last year Gardai distanced the force from a submission against a greenway option in Cork apparently made on Garda letterhead paper. At the time, the a spokesperson at the Garda Press Office said: “An Garda Síochána has a close working relationship with Cork City Council and where necessary make submission on public consultation programmes through official channels. No official submission has been made at this time.”
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Last year, the Garda Press Office added: “Formal submissions in relation to this are submitted through the Office of Chief Superintendent, any other submission is deemed a personal submission. An Garda Síochána does not comment on any personal submissions.”
Similarly in Cork around 2011-2012, a Garda Sergeant objected to a host of new cycle paths. He complained repeated that “This is a Dangerous proposal”, issued a dislike of contra flow cycle lanes which are used across Europe, and claimed that the cycle routes “reduces the capacity of the city to flush out traffic in the event of an emergency and also severely hinders the passage of the Emergency Services across the city.” There has been no known issues relating to emergency services access in Cork in the decade since the cycle paths were installed.