Let the sunshine continue and enjoy the walk

Whether it is Galway city, Oranmore, Claregalway, or Moycullen, traffic delays have become part and parcel of our transport system over the last number of years. And it is expected to worsen this week in an effort to get better - or that's what we all hope.

Alas the eight week traffic chaos to lower the road under the railway bridge on Lough Atalia is not expected to help facilitate traffic movement - not in the same way of those lengthy works on Westside's Seamus Quirke Road. That "improvement" ran over time and over budget by several million, leaving road users discommoded for months. And at the end of it all, did the construction of a four lane road ease the traffic burden of one of the main thoroughfares in the city? Dedicated bus lanes are admirable in theory, but in practice this major arterial road remains under-utilised with two lanes taking the bulk of all traffic flow.

For the average Joe Soap who listens to daily traffic updates, Galway's traffic management must be found wanting, particularly given the size of its population. And, given the rural nature of our county, the answer may not always be simply to keep the cars out of Galway, but to facilitate them. Some councillors have made reasonable suggestions for the implementation of a serious park and ride scheme from various areas of the city, and they deserve more consideration. If it works at Christmas, why not at other times? Like public bus services, however, it must be timely, economical, and safe to ensure it works.

For far too long we have waited and debated traffic management in a city that possesses a brain bank of engineers, strategists, planners and economists, yet we are still lacking agreement and a real integrated transport scheme. Despite widespread scepticism, the conversion of a number of roundabouts into signalised junctions has facilitated the flow of vehicles across the city, and we have a limited number of buses - all of which converge on Eyre Square. By its nature transport management is focused on stopping private cars, but we are not Dublin or London. And other than buses, with a limited number of priority bus lanes, there is no light rail, no park and ride, no underground or overground bypasses, and few cycle tracks. And yes, it is frustrating that commuters can travel from Dublin to Galway in two hours, and sometimes spend half of that again traversing the city from east to west.

There are no easy answers, no magic wand, but it is important the debate continues, and this week concerned residents of Bearna are holding a meeting to oppose one of the planned routes for the Galway bypass. It is their right. In the meantime we must be patient and hope the good weather continues - the perfect opportunity to don the walking shoes, or the bicycle helmet, and snub both bus and car. It might be quicker in the next eight weeks.


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