In May 2020, a transport led City Mobility Team was set up in Galway City Council (GCCMT) for the purposes of considering and agreeing short/medium term temporary mobility interventions in the city. This was done in the context of the Government’s response to COVID-19 which resulted in changed travel patterns and a requirement for safe social distancing in public spaces. To facilitate this, local authorities were charged with reallocating some road space specifically for walking and cycling purposes.
An extensive public engagement exercise was undertaken on-line from the outset by the GCCMT, which resulted in over 1400 submissions being received. There was over-whelming support for the provision of dedicated cycling infrastructure with over 200 submissions alone specifically requesting the installation of a temporary ‘pop-up’ cycle lane in Salthill. The GCCMT agreed that the delivery of this temporary facility would benefit a significant number of users so its progression was agreed as a priority in the Phase 1 Implementation Plan.
An in-house team was established to design the temporary cycle lane in full consultation with the Gardai. A Safety Audit was completed and funding was committed by the National Transport Authority under their special Covid-19 Interim Mobility Measures Fund. The dedicated cycle lane was proposed on both sides of the road from the Grattan Road junction near the Galway Business School to Sea Point and onwards to Blackrock. Cycle specific traffic calming measures, signage and road markings were also proposed from Grattan Road to Wolfe Tone Bridge to give greater priority to cyclists sharing this road with vehicles.
Following extensive engagement with businesses in the Salthill area, who were not in favour of the temporary cycle lane proposals as advanced, Galway City Council at a Council Meeting that took place on the 13th July, 2020, rejected these proposals. The Chief Executive has indicated that the City Council can still implement this cycle lane as designed if consensus can be achieved, subject to funding still being available in accordance with the provisions of the roads act.
The Chief Executive also indicated that the 2016 Preliminary Report on the Proposed Barna Greenway can no longer be implemented as was proposed at that time. Work on a new design for this project will take place as part of the proposed flood defence scheme (CFRAM) for Salthill as well as a revised traffic management plan for the area including an upgraded public transport route. Due to the complexity of the several legislative processes involved in delivering these cross cutting infrastructural projects in an environmentally sensitive area, it will take several years to significantly advance progress the formal planning of these projects including the delivery of the proposed Greenway towards Barna which will also have to link to the proposed new Dublin to Galway Greenway as part of the cross city element of this.