Cycle route funding used to remove cycle lane to widen traffic lane in Galway, says Councillors

A walking and cycling project in Galway has been downgraded after construction started because motorists and a local councillor complained it slowed them down.

The Doughiska Road south project had included upgrading the provision for both walking and cycling, but now an existing cycle lane will be removed and people walking and cycling will be mixed so that motorists can travel more freely at the T-junction with Ros Caoin.

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The junction has already been constructed with a design which could be roughly described as a type of mid-way point between the two designs, including cycle lanes leading up to shared space footpaths. Now, the plan is to remove the cycle lanes on the approach to the junction from Ros Caoin and narrow the shared footpath space at the junction.

Some residents claimed traffic congestion streaming out of the Ros Caoin road onto the Doughiska Road, but drone footage posted by somebody who campaigned against the project seemed to show the traffic originating from outside of the project boundary.

Census data shows that the Roscam/Doughiska area, around the project, has some of the lowest levels of cycling in Galway City, but that around 70% of trips for work or school originating in the area are to places like Ballybrit, Parkmore, Mervue, and Oranmore, which are all within around a 15-20 minute cycle.

An article published in the Galway City Tribune last month incorrectly claimed that the works would “reduce the exit from four estates and the Roscam shops from two lanes to one” — this is incorrect as confirmed by Google Street View and satellite images pre-dating the construction show only one exit lane beside a cycle lane.

Local Cllr Alan Cheevers (Fianna Fáil) told Tribune that the project would cause “severe backlogs” and “catastrophic for residents and it had to be stopped”. The newspaper reported Cllr Cheevers as claiming — again incorrectly — that “What was proposed to happen was to reduce the exit to one lane and install traffic lights which would severe issues where there are already major problems.”

There was a reduction in traffic lane widths, but no reduction in the number of lanes until the cycle lane was removed in the latest plans.

Cllr Alan Curran (Social Democrats) posted the above image showing the original drawings for the junction and a revised plan dated July 2023.

Cllr Curran said: “This is being sold to the public as an Active Travel scheme, as part of the Galway Transportation Strategy, aiming to improve the poor quality cycle network in the city. What we have instead is a project openly designed to maximise motorised traffic flow through the junction.”

“The removal of an existing cycle lane, narrowing of a pedestrian area and the provision of a shared space for cyclists and pedestrians on a narrow bend does not reconcile with this aim,” he said.

“This scheme went through public consultation in 2021 and was approved by the council. However since construction began it has been completely redesigned, completely undermining the consultation process,” said Cllr Curran.

He added: “We have been told that the NTA has signed off on this redesign, in which case serious questions need answering.”

Cllr Niall Murphy (Green Party) took to Twitter yesterday to express similar feelings.

Cllr Murphy said: “Had a difficult meeting with councillors and engineers on the Doughiska South Cycle Route this week. The scheme is ‘Doughiska Road South’ and was voted on unanimously by councillors in 2022, and construction started several weeks ago.”

“The scheme adds about 500m of cycle lane, on both sides of the Doughiska Road. The Ros Caoin road that has a T-junction with Doughiska Road has had a cycle lane for years. During construction there were objections to the fact that the new layout slowed car flow,” he said.

Cllr Murphy said: “Following the objections, the Galway City engineers redesigned the junction and received NTA approval to widen the car lane and remove the cycle lane as it approaches the junction. For the last 20 metres the cyclists will have to share the footpath with pedestrians.”

“A solution that led to a previous cycle lane being removed and a previous footpath becoming a shared pedestrian and cycle-way, on a narrow corner, is not the right way forward. I am shocked that the NTA agreed to this.”

IMAGE: A photo posted by Cllr Niall Murphy showing markings outlining where the road is to be narrowed and people walking and cycling are to share the narrowed space at the junction.

He also said that there was an issue of illegal parking on the cycle lane and on the footpath before the construction is even finished.

Galway City Council and the National Transport Authority (NTA) were contacted on Thursday for comment and this article will be updated if/when replies to questions are received.

The original planned drawing:

The July 2023 plan:

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  1. Reducing the traffic flow to 1 lane exit out of roscaoin is the most ridiculous idea ever proposed. I’ve lived in Roscam since it was built and the traffic flow has doubled. Putting in a cycle lane is not going to reduce people’s car usage . Alan Cheevers is correct

    • Richard, what do you mean “putting in a cycle lane”? The revised plans are removing a cycle lane that already existed. In what way will removing a cycle lane make it traffic flow more smoothly? If anything it will discourage cyclists due the increased danger at the choke points and get more people in cars, adding to the traffic load.

  2. If ever I needed confirmation that leaving Ireland and moving to the Netherlands was the right choice. 13 more days!

    • It’s puzzling that countries near each other, like Ireland and the Netherlands, don’t adopt successful ideas from one another. Building connected bike lanes doesn’t have to be expensive or time-consuming, as shown by Paris a few years ago. All it takes is political will and people’s desire for positive change. P.S. I’m also thinking about moving to the Netherlands because of news like this.

      • When I moved to Ireland in 2013 I was very excited to ride on the Liffey cycle route – it looked amazing! In 2023, I’m still waiting.

  3. If they didn’t change it back to allow enough room for two lanes to exist Ros Caoin , it would be chaos come September when the schools reopen. Common sense here at last !

    • This decision demonstrates a dearth of logic.

      Providing safe walking and cycling infrastructure results in people opting to walk or cycle to schools, shops etc…

      While other countries are ploughing ahead to acheive Vision Zero goals Ireland is languishing in nonsensical piecemeal half-hearted spending on largely mediocre walking and cycling infrastructure.

      Absolutely embarrassing, to say the least.

  4. Find it funny the lads sitting in Dublin & even the Netherlands are experts on this without any knowledge. Anyone that lives in Roscam would know the problem here is that the council allowed approx 1k units with only 1 entrance. The cycle lane (that I’ve seen no one use) has made the traffic much worse and unless it changes there will mayhem in Sep23. Listen to local residents & our local representatives and not those from the other side of city who have limited knowledge of the issues.

  5. You don’t need to be living locally to see that using cycle route funding to remove a cycle lane to widen traffic lane is ridiculous. Its akin to…I dont know…using the welfare budget to provide child allowance to billionaires, or something (opp’s). What a swell country this is.

  6. Clearly not one person with very strong opinions here actually lives in Roscam highly doubt that any residents are against this reversal. The cycle lane being “removed” is unfit for cycling as it is because its used as the second lane to turn left out of the estate due to poor planning of 800 houses with one exit. At least this way residents are not 30 mins trying to exit their housing estate and cyclists have a shared lane with plenty of space they can use, separated from motorists. I’d be more comfortable cycling in the revised layout than the idiotic first plan which made it dangerous for all with such high volume through this narrow junction.


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