Work suspended on ‘problematic’ rent-a-bike sites

Work has been stopped at three proposed docking stations for the city’s rental bike scheme, which councillors repeatedly warned would create problems for local residents.

At yesterday’s city council meeting, the chief executive of Galway City Council Brendan McGrath confirmed no further works will take place on the “problematic sites” at Merchants Road, University Road, and on the island at GTI on Fr Griffin Road.

Alternative locations will be examined and consultation with all stakeholders will be undertaken. Following this, Mr McGrath will report to councillors at next month’s meeting to see how the issue can be progressed. Halting work at the three aformentioned sites does not prevent work taking place at the other 16 locations earmarked for bike docking stations.

Councillors have campaigned for and supported the introduction of the Galway Rental Bicycle scheme, but have been disappointed by certain proposed locations and the omission  of areas like Salthill.

Docking stations are proposed for University Road (UHG end ), Nuns Island (beside the Equality Statue ), Cathedral carpark (southern end ), Woodquay, Dyke Road carpark, Newtownsmith, Eyre Square (north and south ), County Hall, City Hall, Ceannt Station, Forster Street, Merchants Road, New Dock Street, St Augustine’s Street, Spanish Parade, Raven Terrace, and Fr Griffin Road (beside GTI ).

However when the sites were revealed in June, Labour’s Niall McNelis and Fine Gael’s Frank Fahy expressed reservations about a docking station at the north of Eyre Square, while Fianna Fáil’s Peter Keane described as “utter madness” the exclusion of Salthill, Knocknacarra, and the east side of the city.

At yesterday’s meeting, concerns were again expressed about the Merchants Road, University Road, and GTI island sites, with Independent Councillor Catherine Connolly describing them as “simply not suitable”.

However progress is being made on the GTI site. Cllr Connolly and Claddagh residents recently held “a very productive meeting” with a City Hall engineer to examine an alternative location, in the same general area, and drawings and plans are currently being prepared with a final decision to be made in the near future.

Concerns remain over the Merchants Road and University Road. Cllr Connolly, speaking to the Galway Advertiser after the meeting said the Merchants Road docking station in particular was problematic as it was located “right outside people’s houses where there are no gardens to act as a buffer”.

Following a robust debate, Mr McGrath agreed no further works would be carried out on the three specific sites. Following discussions with local residents, the matter wil come before councillors again at the November meeting.

Cllr Connolly welcomed the decision but said the problems over the sites have arisen because the scheme is being “driven from Dublin by the NTA who have little local knowledge”, leaving council officials “to deal with the mess on the ground”.

“As a committed cyclist,” she said, “I am most anxious the scheme is rolled out but at proper and appropriate docking stations.”

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