Cycling and pedestrian groups have ‘no confidence’ in council roads spending plans

The Galway Cycling Campaign has given a “no confidence” vote in the Galway City Council’s ability to use the recently allocated NRA funding of €4.325 million to effectively improve safety and infrastructure for cyclists on the city’s roadways.

Galway-based pedestrian lobby group, Cosain, has also criticised the local authority for not doing enough to give pedestrians priority and ensure that roads feel safer.

On Monday the Minister for Transport Pat Carey announced details of the Government’s €866.96 million investment in the National Roads Programme for 2011. Galway City Council has been allocated a total of €4.325 million, with the lion’s share of €4 million being set aside for the N6 Bóthar na dTreabh with a focus said to be placed on increasing priority for cyclists and pedestrians. Road pavement renewal works at Kirwan Roundabout, Brown Roundabout in Westside, and Morris Roundabout, are to receive funding of €125,000, €105,000, and €90,000 respectively.

Chairman for the campaign group, Shane Foran, told the Galway Advertiser yesterday that while funding was welcomed he would be remaining “very cautious” until he knows exactly how the money will be spent by the council. “Because of past experience I have no confidence in what the council do. There has been a tendency in the past of spending substantial amounts of money and actually making the situation worse for cyclists.

“In Doughiska there is a road which is 1.4km long and they have put in cycleways but they expect the cyclist to stop at every side road and at every property entrance. It’s a bizarre scheme. The council has said that this is the model for the city going forward but it has been the subject of international ridicule. This is the filter through which I am going to look at the money being used by the council,” said Mr Foran who added that there were also concerns regarding work on the Seamus Quirke Road.

Cosain spokesperson Simon Comer said that at present the “cycling provision in Galway is very poor” and that “pedestrians have not been prioritised”. Mr Comer called for Galway City Council to spend the funding on “best practise and not tokenism”.

“There are measures that can be taken which would make life more amenable and safer for pedestrians, cyclists, and bus users. The council need to look at HGV management in the town which is associated with danger for pedestrians and cyclists. There’s also the issue of speed. It is our view that breaking of the speed limit is rampant in Galway. A speed management strategy needs to be implemented which would reduce the limits making it more conducive to walking, cycling, and taking the bus. Perception is hugely important, people feel unsafe on Galway’s roads... There’s also a lack of pedestrian priority crossings. There are so many roundabouts in Galway which are dangerous. Putting in zebra crossings will make it safer but there’s no plan to do anything like that specifically, and pedestrians are left taking chances by hopping across to islands... There needs to be a real budget for making the roads safer,” said Mr Comer who added that he would welcome a plan to put in place a signalised junction at the Terryland roundabout.

Meanwhile Galway County Council received funding of €70.116 million. Almost €6 million has been allocated for works on the Oughterard to Clifden road while the N18 and N84 also received substantial money. More than €50 million has been allocated for major schemes including the N6 Athlone to Ballinasloe; the Ballinasloe, Loughrea, and Oranmore bypasses; N17 Gort to Tuam and Tuam to Claremorris; and the N18 Gort to Crusheen. A total of €4.5 million is allocated for bridge rehabilitation and more than €8.5 million for pavement works along the N59, N63, N65, N66, N67, and N84.


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