Green Party senator Pauline O'Reilly has told the oral hearing into the Galway City Ring Road that it is not the answer to the traffic probelsm that Galway is experiencing.
She said that while many have awaited news of the Galway City Ring Road for decades, it will not be the silver bullet that politicians have been promising. In fact if this road is built it will change the very essence of both rural and urban Galway making it unrecognisable to us.
“As soon as we have that bypass, homes will start to appear on the far side of the road; homes that are almost entirely dependent on their cars. This is the type of planning common across the US. We have a current challenge, which is congestion in the city, but we need to see a solution that is not going to exacerbate the problem by adding more road traffic. Where transport infrastructure exists, housing, retail, industry will appear and all of these people and businesses will be dependent on that form of transport. We only have to look at history to know that this is true.
Where there is a rail line – homes are built.
Where there is light rail – home are built.
Where there is a massive bypass – homes will be built.
All of this points to sprawl, which is entirely against good planning principals. From that point on, the people living in those homes will be entirely dependent on that form of transport until more transport is found.
“Will another road be needed on the far side of the by-pass when the housing moves further and further away?”
“Only 3% of traffic goes from outside the city to out the other side of the city. The majority of road users in fact do not cross the river. The way we address the issue therefore must be through public transport, which is entirely suitable for this kind of urban congestion.
Galway has a very low uptake for buses and cycling and this is what must be addressed. It has already started with bus connects and cycleways underway. I also believe that a double track from Athenry to the city would has have huge gains, and this was not examined as part of the application. In fact 35% of all traffic during rush hour is school traffic. With school buses and safe routes to school we can dramatically reduce car dependency in our small city. All it takes is political will and I believe we have that.
“Many people are already reliant on their cars. Those are the communities we should be supporting in rural Galway. That means putting electric charging points in place, and building more community hubs and schools. It means ensuring there are bus shelters in all towns and villages like Spiddal and Barna, and making sure that the buses leave on time for school.”
“Fundamentally it comes down to this, with all of the talk of the bypass addressing Galway’s transport problems, it is only estimated to take 5% more traffic off the roads than if the public and active transport elements of the strategy were in place. I believe that over time, it has the potential to increase road traffic through induced demand," she concluded.