New Green Party Cllr Niall Murphy has welcomed the new pedestrian bridge planned to be built alongside the Salmon Weir bridge, but has warned it might not work for all cyclists.
The bridge will give pedestrians the chance to cross the river beside the Cathedral without having to brave the dangerously narrow footpaths of the existing Salmon Weir Bridge.
One of the aims of the new bridge is that it will be a shared space between pedestrians and cyclists. When presenting the plans for the new bridge to the Galway City Council, Senior Transport and Infrastructure Engineer, Uinsionn Finn pointed out that a shared space, as distinct from segregated walking and cycling lanes, reduced the cyclists’ speed.
However, Cllr Niall Murphy has concerns that sharing a space between bikes and pedestrians does not suit all scenarios.
“Sharing space works for the casual or tourist cyclist, but is certainly not an option for the lycra-clad endurance cyclist – those guys know to stick to the road. However the most important category of cyclist post-Covid is the commuting cyclist who just needs to get to work or to the shops quickly.
“It does work well in some other parts of Galway. Early in the day, as cars and bicycles use a busy Shop Street, the cars and bikes give way to pedestrians and everyone gets where they are going without incident. On Lough Atalia, in spite of the ‘no cycling’ signs on the footpath, some cyclists choose the footpath because the car lanes are so tight. Because of the low volume, this seems to work out for all involved.
“There are other spaces where sharing space is more controversial. On the Salthill Prom, many cyclists use the already crowded footpath and that is not a good experience for either cyclist or pedestrian.
“The pedestrian traffic level on this new bridge will make it unappealing for the commuting cyclist. However the bridge should not be seen in isolation, but as part of the Galway Transport Strategy.
“Other parts of that strategy will take all traffic except for bikes and buses off the Salmon Weir Bridge. That is where the commuting cyclist will travel to minimise the time getting from A to B. While a more leisurely cyclist will most likely dismount when they chose the pedestrian bridge - giving them time to enjoy the view.” Cllr Murphy said.