A proposed temporary cycle lane in Salthill, Galway, will have a negative impact on traffic, will reduce parking availability and will decrease access for older people and those with mobility issues, locals have said in submissions to the city council.
A report summarising the public response to the proposed development, prepared for Galway City councillors, states that almost two-thirds of submissions were not in favour of the plan.
Last September councillors voted 17 to 1 in favour of temporary segregated cycling infrastructure along the promenade in Salthill. A public consultation on two proposed routes opened on January 14th, running until January 28th, during which time almost 7,000 submissions were received.
The first proposed route featured one-way vehicular traffic from the Grattan Road junction to the Barna Road junction, with the second option having two-way vehicular traffic along the R336 (the sea front) and one way vehicular traffic from the Pollnarooma west junction to the Barna road junction.
The second proposed route proved more popular among those who were in favour of a cycleway. However, the proposals were divisive, with a significant majority of submissions – 63 per cent – taking issue with the plan.
“Access to the prom for the elderly and those with impaired mobility is severely impacted. Access to carers and other professional services in all residential areas affected by this will be negatively impacted,” one submission stated.
Another, from a resident who lives off Dr Mannix Road, said cars diverted from the promenade onto their road would be “a serious issue for endangering children and adults in a very built up residential area”.
Blue light services raised concerns around emergency response times, while Bus Éireann raised a concern about the impact on service delivery.
An Garda Síochána said neither plan could proceed as emergency access would be "severely impeded", while the fire service said both options would "create serious challenges" to the mobilisation of fire and rescue services to the west side of the city.
Other submissions were more positive, highlighting the potential to make the area more attractive for tourists, to encourage sustainable transport and to help reduce emissions.
“At the moment cycling in Salthill is terrifying, even for an experienced cyclist like myself. Segregated cycle lanes are essential for a modern north European city – otherwise cycling is the preserve of the lunatic fringe,” a submission in favour of the plan said.
Following concerns around traffic and parking, Fianna Fáil councillor Peter Keane this week proposed a motion to revoke the plans.
The motion, under Standing Order 32 to "amend or revoke'' a resolution of the council, is on the agenda for Monday's meeting of the local authority when a summary report on the thousands of submissions received will also be considered. The motion is supported by Fianna Fáil, Fine Gael, Labour and a number of Independents.
In a statement responding to the motion, Minister for Transport Eamon Ryan said on Friday "we can't keep our heads in the sand" and continue to let cars dominate public spaces.
“The cycle track in Salthill is a critical opportunity to demonstrate that safer roads and alternatives to cars are a priority across parties in Government,” he said,
"While Salthill is a very popular destination for families and tourists, it is actually too dangerous for children and families to choose to cycle there at the moment. Galway deserves better. Communities across Ireland deserve better."
Green Party Senator Pauline O’Reilly added that it was “completely out of touch with reality and the future of communities and transport to continue to prioritise cars over pedestrians and cyclists”.