Funding for city cycleways at risk
By Richie Mccarthy
The development of a walking and cycling strategy for Galway city was stunted yet again at Monday evening’s meeting of the Galway City Council.
It was hoped that the plan, which has been on the council’s agenda since 2010, would be approved to allow the city to apply for funding. Yet, following a two and a half hour debate, 13 amendments were presented to acting director of services Joe Tansey, with which he said he could not deal on the spot.
Mr Tansey warned that if councillors continued to delay the project, funding options may be at risk. He outlined that Galway was only “one city fishing in the same pond for limited resources”, and that time was of the essence.
Mr Tansey told councillors they were not applying for one chunk of funding for the whole plan: “We are planning the parts of the jigsaw here, the NTA are looking for us to develop networks, and this will be the blueprint, they will then fund individual schemes”.
He also warned that if certain amendments were adopted they could scupper the whole plan.
Fianna Fáil councillor Michael J Crowe said further deferral of passing the document was “a total farce”, adding: “This is the longest item I’ve ever seen on the agenda during my time on the council.”
A presentation on the key elements of the strategy by senior engineer Martin McElligott outlined that more than 50 per cent of people in Galway city travel less than four kilometres to work or education with 23 per cent on foot and four per cent travelling by bike.
He pin-pointed the development of four main cycleways across the city from Barna to Oranmore, Menlo to the city centre, Ardaun to Knocknacarra, and from the Corrib to the coastline.
Independent councillor Catherine Connolly said she welcomed the move, but highlighted the difficulties cyclists faced in the city: “Coláiste na Coiribe is only a mile away from my house and I cannot send my sons to school on their bikes.”
While councillors were positive about the development of the cycleways, Fine Gael councillor Pádraig Conneely slammed the “cowboy cyclists” in the city for their disregard to the law.
“Some cyclists I see do not have regard for the rules of the road,” he said. “They’re dangerous, they cross lanes, go through red lights, and stop signs. They continuously cycle up one-way streets without any regard for pedestrians.”
He added that when he pointed out to a cyclist on Upper Abbeygate Street that he was in wrong he told him to “go F myself”.
A number of areas planned for development in the city include the pedestrianisation of Cross Street, Middle Street, and Ravens Terrace, and a shared road space on Eglinton Street. Mr Tansey said the change of road use along Eglinton Street would need further consultation and assessment to see if it is viable.
The possibility of a 30km speed zone in the city zone was criticised by Independent councillor Donal Lyons who pointed out that Dublin had reverted back to a 50km zone after attempts to introduce a 30km speed zone failed.
The walking and cycling policy document will now be referred to next months meeting of Galway city council on October 8.