Cyclists around the city had their hopes dashed on Monday afternoon when Galway's city councillors defeated a motion to construct a temporary cycle lane in Salthill using funding from the National Transport Authority's (NTA ) special Covid-19 Interim Mobility Measures Fund.
Councillors voted against Independent councillor Colette Connolly's proposal after it emerged through extensive engagement with the local authority, that businesses in the area were not in favour of pop up cycle lanes.
In response to the councillors' decision, cycling advocacy group Galway Cycling Campaign held a demonstration on Tuesday afternoon calling for the city council to continue to search for solutions to create safe routes for cyclists to travel.
A spokesperson for the group said; "The people of Galway have clearly said, ‘We want a safe cycle lane on the Prom for our families during Covid-19'. Over 200 of the 1,400 public submissions for Covid mobility measures received by the council were for a Salthill cycle lane. [On Tuesday], our flashmob gathering on the Prom vibrantly showed that people of all ages and abilities want safe cycling and mobility infrastructure during coronavirus.
"We are disappointed that our councillors have not asked the chief executive to apply for special Covid-19 funds through the National Transport Authority, which would fund the proposed pop-up cycle lane along the Prom, plus more pedestrian crossings and extensive bike parking. Given that future permanent cycle facilities are now tied to the development of flood defences, nothing will happen in Salthill for years and years. The status quo remains: families will continue to share the road with buses, cars, and vans.
"Now, we must turn our energies towards creating safe routes to schools when they reopen at the end of August. Social distancing will be with us for as long as this killer virus is present. We need to enable children and teenagers to walk and cycle safely to school, especially as bus capacity has shrunk and parents may have concerns about car-pooling between different families."
Reacting to the defeat of her motion, Cllr Connolly described the decision of the council as regrettable and a lost opportunity to make Galway a safer, more environmentally friendly city.
Cllr Connolly said; "[I am] extremely disappointed at the decision of the majority of councillors at [Monday's] council meeting to vote against the motion to seek funding under Covid-19 for the provision of two cycle lanes in Salthill.
"It is incredible that councillors cited the removal of 260 on-street car parking spaces and alleged negative effect on business as justification for their vote, when throughout the country improved cycle facilities have led to increased economic activity, particularly in Westport.
"It is regrettable that Galway has lost the opportunity to become a safer, healthier city and the ability to redress the inequalities that exist between motorists and cyclists, where road usage favours the former to the detriment of the latter."
Councillors voted 12 to 5 with one abstention against the proposal.