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Mayor and Minister Launch Three New Active Travel Projects in Galway City

Mayor and Minister Launch Three New Active Travel Projects in Galway City

Mayor of Galway City, Cllr. Eddie Hoare and Minister for Transport, Eamon Ryan T.D. have formally opened three new active travel schemes which will allow more people of all ages to walk and cycle in a safer and more comfortable environment in the heart of Galway. 

The pair were on hand for events on Friday which marked the opening of the enhanced School Street at Scoil Iognáid, Raleigh Row; the Eglinton Canal Active Travel scheme and new Wolfe Tone Pedestrian Bridge.  The three projects have been delivered by Galway City Council in conjunction with funding partners including the National Transport Authority, the Urban Regeneration and Development Fund and Fáilte Ireland.

Scoil Iognáid has been home to the first city-centre School Street in Ireland since the project opened on an initial pilot basis in November 2020.  A School Street is a road outside a school with a temporary restriction on motorised traffic at school drop-off and pick-up times. The restriction applies to school traffic and through traffic. The result is a safer, healthier, and more pleasant environment for everyone.

A Report into the Pilot Project found that the scheme has reduced car use (down 14%) and increased the number of children walking (up 11%), cycling (up 7%) and scooting (up 3%) to school.  The initiative has also received very positive feedback from families, staff, and the local community who have noted improvements in safety and accessibility for children, reductions in idling traffic and congestion and even positive impacts on the children’s mood and behaviour.

Building on the success of this initiative, Galway City Council’s Active Travel Team have further supported the School Street with a suite of additional works at Scoil Iognáid and along Raleigh Row and in adjoining areas.  Working closely with Scoil Iognáid, the National Transport Authority and An Taisce’s Safe Routes to School team, Galway City Council has widened pedestrian footways, tightened junctions, updated crossings and installed new road markings, signage and pencil bollards.  This has resulted in a pleasant and safe front of school experience for pupils at Scoil Iognáid.

The Wolfe Tone Pedestrian Bridge II project saw the construction of a new cantilever bridge on the outside of the existing Wolfe Tone Bridge, which is one of the busiest crossings of the River Corrib.  The new walkway is on the south side of the bridge and is similar in design to a separate cantilever bridge on the north side of the bridge which was added in 2004.  The new walkway provides a safe, segregated way to cross the Wolfe Tone Bridge for local residents and visitors, giving people a great view of Claddagh Quay and historic Spanish Arch.  The project was funded by the National Transport Authority.

The Eglinton Canal Active Travel Scheme entails the upgrade of 880m of paths to facilitate safe cycling, walking, and wheeling in a busy area of Galway’s Westend.  The project facilitates Active Travel along the Eglinton Canal, from the junction on Father Griffin Road to the junction with University Road.  The works include resurfacing the route, and the construction of new zebra crossing points and traffic calming measures including build-outs and raised platforms.  The route facilitates pedestrian and cyclist connections to destinations including Galway Cathedral, University of Galway, and University Hospital Galway, as well as Galway City Centre and the Spanish Arch. 

This project received funding from Fáilte Ireland, as part of the Destination Towns initiative to allow Councils to enhance public spaces.  The scheme formed part of the National Tourism Development Authority's work to drive a better regional spread of overseas and domestic visitors and spend.  The project was also part-funded by the National Transport Authority.

Minister Ryan said “Galway is such a beautiful city, and these three projects will make it even more attractive as a place to live in, to go to school in and to visit. All of the best cities in the world are recognising that our urban spaces are better when they are reclaimed for people, with more space for walking, cycling and wheeling, and at the same time reducing congestion and pollution. I think that these three projects, along with all the other work that is taking place across Galway City, will help encourage residents and visitors to see walking, cycling or wheeling as a viable and more attractive transport option, making Galway a safer, cleaner city and decreasing its carbon emissions. I would like to thank Galway City Council’s Active Travel team, the National Transport Authority (NTA), An Taisce, the local community and all those involved for their hard work in delivering these projects to such a high standard.”

Leonard Cleary, Chief Executive of Galway City Council, has welcomed the new developments.  “These projects are a testament to Galway City Council’s commitment to promote and encourage sustainable transport, including the delivery of infrastructure to make it convenient and attractive to walk and cycle.  The recent Galway Metropolitan Area Walking and Cycling Index showed strong public support for more investment in walking and cycling infrastructure, and Galway City Council will continue to prioritise this area for investment over the coming years.  I want to commend the work of the Active Travel Team and the contractors who worked on these schemes, and I want to thank our funding partners and the government for their invaluable support.”

Anne Graham, CEO of the National Transport Authority said: ‘The National Transport Authority is delighted to see these three projects in Galway City come to fruition. Collectively, they showcase the positive impact that continued investment in active travel infrastructure is having on communities right across the country. From creating safer environments for children to get to and from school, to improving facilities for everyday walking, wheeling and cycling journeys. I want to congratulate Galway City Council on the successful delivery of all three schemes and I look forward to seeing what else the Local Authority has planned in the months and years ahead.’

These projects mark the latest additions to active travel infrastructure in Galway City.  In the past twelve months, new schemes have been completed at Droichead an Dóchais, Millers Lane, the Doughiska Road South Cycle Network, and the upgraded Martin Junction.  Construction on the Ballybane Road and Castlepark Road Cycle Scheme is scheduled to begin in Q3 2024.  Galway City Council has also been allocated funding by the National Transport Authority to progress Safe Routes to School projects to the adjacent St. Joseph’s Special School and Galway Educate Together National School, Newcastle, Coláiste Iognáid, Bóthar na Mara, Scoil Fhursa, Nile Lodge and Gaelscoil Dara and Scoil Chaitríona, Renmore.