Greater levels of parking in the city centre will lead to increased traffic congestion, which will result in falling numbers coming into the city centre - a situation which will negatively impact on business.
This is the view of Green Party Galway City West councillor, Niall Murphy, who has expressed concerns about plans to increase the number of parking spaces in the city.
At Monday’s city council meeting, councillors debated the planned quantity of parking in the city centre as part of a discussion on the pre-draft submissions to the Galway City Development Plan.
Officials at City Hall believe the major infrastructure works planned for the city centre, such as the Augustine Hill development and the Galway Harbour redevelopments, will require parking for the residents and workers.
However, Cllr Murphy tabled a motion that over the five year life of the forthcoming development plan, the total amount of parking in the city centre would be reduced. The motion was defeated, leaving City Hall free to plan for an increase in the total volume of parking.
Despite this, Cllr Murphy said the problem of traffic congestion in the city will remain. He argues that an increase in the volume of parking will inevitably result in an increase in traffic into the city centre. He also pointed out that in the next few years, the road space for these cars will be reduced because private car traffic will not be able to use the Salmon Weir bridge or Eglington Street.
“All of those extra cars will be forced onto fewer streets,” he said. “This nightmare will lead to people choosing to shop and dine in the outskirts, killing off life and businesses in the city centre.”
Cllr Murphy [pictured above] said the “ideal path of progress” is for people living in town to not require a car, and for those living out of town to use public or active travel to get into town.
“Then you have a town centre that is far more attractive because there are fewer cars,” he said. “I want more people in the centre, but less cars. Any policy involving fewer cars is perceived as anti-businesses. It was the same at the time of the decision to pedestrianise Shop Street, which we were assured would lead to the death of that street. When you stand there today, you see loads of people and no cars. Galway needs more of that.”