New bridge in Galway doesn’t make much sense for cycling but a quick-build fix could change this

Comment & Analysis: With the temporary name, the Salmon Weir Pedestrian and Cycle Bridge, the new bridge crosses from the Galway Cathedral into the city centre, but right now it’s not a whole lot of use for cycling due to lack of connections.

The 80-metre bridge, which was officially opened this afternoon, spans three different bodies of water — Persse’s Distillery River, the Lower River Corrib and Friar’s River.

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When I recently mentioned the €10 million being invested in the bridge as part of Galway’s improvements for walking and cycling, a Galway-based reader said the bridge doesn’t do anything for cycling. And, to be fair, that’s true.

The bridge is part of a broader plan, but its construction work included the closure of part of Newtownsmith, a street on the city side of the bridge and this has led to calls for that section of road to be permanently made for walking and cycling only.

A number of people have made the suggestion that an onward connection could be added with little cost and little impact on motorists too.

“Is there any chance of using this road closure as an opportunity to measure base traffic and subsequent dispersal? The closure of Newtownsmith hasn’t had a big impact on motorists(data?) but could make a safe route from the new bridge into town, few bollards would do it?” said Kevin Jennings, a local cycling campaigner and former chairperson of the Galway Cycling Campaign, in a Tweet last November in reply to the city council.

In December he said that Newtownsmith has been “closed to motor traffic for months without any obvious impact on overall flows” and making that permanent would “create a calm public realm all the way from Courthouse to the market.”

It’s a great idea that could be implemented easily and cheaply. Is there anything stopping councillors and officials from getting behind it?

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