The Galway Cycling Campaign has welcomes the temporary emergency measures outlined by the City Mobility Team at the City Council meeting. While many of us cannot yet return to work, they support these efforts to get city businesses thriving in the aftermath of the coronavirus shutdown and to build a resilient network where people can continue to move, trade, play and live in face of the persistent threat of a second wave.
The introduction of parklets will add to the ambience of destination streets where people want to be. More space for people on our streets will open the streets up to children, people with mobility needs, and older people and enable them to move about our city in safety and confidence.
“A calm environment leads to calm cycling,” says chairperson of the Galway Cycling Campaign, Kevin Jennings. “We want to cycle alongside our companions and children, enjoying the sounds of the streets and taking in the buzz. Whether we’re in the city, towns or countryside, we welcome quiet streets where people enjoy spending their time, and money too. The bike makes a pleasure out of necessary trips.”
More space is also evident in the plans for Salthill, where instead of parklets replacing parked vehicles, there will be a mobility corridor along the prom between the city and Knocknacarra. It also provides lots of space for people on foot. The proposed cycle lanes will serve primarily people who would like to go by bike to work and city centre, as well as tourists and visitors who enjoy different parts of our city.”
Kevin Jennings continued, “According to the 2016 census, of all Irish cities, Galway has the highest proportion of people who reported walking or cycling for their commutes. Within Galway itself, Salthill has the highest concentration of people who cycle for these trips. There will be less noise and more visibility along this beautiful stretch of coast for visitors and locals who like to walk the prom or go for a swim. For the first time, there will also be an attractive option to cycle the prom from the city to Salthill. Hopefully this will be a taste of things to come when the separate greenway to Bearna gets funding.”
Less speed in towns and cities is the new normal, worldwide. The UN Stockholm declaration, which has been co-signed over 140 countries, including Ireland, recommends a default urban speed limit of 30kmph. Speed limits in cities, towns and through villages will only be greater than that where there is clear evidence that walking and cycling is safe for people of all ages and abilities.
Martina Callanan, spokesperson of Galway Cycling Campaign said lower speed limits are the new normal for towns and cities across the world. Brussels has already cut its city centre speed limit to 20 kmph. It will take a short time for this to effect behaviour change and it will be embraced as people realise that slower speeds mean safer streets.”
“We cautiously welcome some of the changes to traffic layout in the city. These are complex and tricky to predict yet many of the changes allow for more space for people on bikes and people walking. They will reduce the ambient speed and pressure of motor traffic. We have a quibble about the Dyke Road plan where motorists will now join the Headford Road at St Brendan’s where the junction is uncontrolled. We would have preferred to see the Dyke Road opened up as a parallel route for people on bike and foot. It has potential as an urban greenway and it serves a large population where there is great latent demand for active travel.”
Kevin Jennings concluded,”While these are small steps in the right direction, borne of necessity for businesses to adapt in this changed new normal, the Galway Cycling Campaign applauds the Council for their vision and suggest increased consultation with all stakeholders. We look forward to further measures in later phases, especially measures which will encourage the active mobility of children and teenagers getting to parks and schools.”