Narrow roads and bad weather are some of the reasons cited as to why people in Galway are not taking to cycling.
Galway City Council voted down both options for a controversial cycleway in Salthill on Monday.
Laoise Smyth, a young working professional who travels by car from Salthill to the city centre every day for work, said that on her commute, she often gets “stuck behind a cyclist”.
“It makes all the cars line up behind you as well until there’s space, because a lot of the roads are really small in Galway so you can’t overtake them safely,” she said.”
Ms Smyth added that bad weather alongside the lack of cycle lanes discourages her from cycling to work.
“If I want to go cycle somewhere, I have to be way more wary and way more cautious, and if I was to go cycling, I wouldn’t cycle to work because there’s no cycle lanes on the way in,” she said.
Not everyone has the same outlook as Ms Smyth, however.
Tomás Herlihy, a student who lives in Castlegar said that he chooses to cycle to college daily instead of driving, because if he drives, he must pay €2 an hour for parking, whereas it is free to lock his bike right outside where his lectures take place.
“If Galway had a better approach to cyclists, it would decongest the city. I come down from Castlegar every day and only a short part of the cycle is on proper cycle lanes, which can be dangerous in the evening.”
Nicolás Amaya Aguilar, from Newcastle in Galway, has a balanced view of the biking versus driving debate, but it all boils down to one thing.
“It’s very weather dependent to be honest, if it’s a nice day I like to cycle, it’s easier to find parking, it’s easier to get around traffic, you know, you’re not stuck for ages because cars are piling up. I just drive if the weather is very bad, or if it’s a longer journey,” he said.
“A lot of the roads in Galway are quite narrow, so there’s not really an easy way to overtake cyclists when there’s no cycle lane, so you’re just stuck behind them and it’ll block up for a while, so either cyclists have to stop and let you past, or they have to go up on the footpath, which isn’t ideal for them or for pedestrians either.”
Galway East TD Ciarán Cannon said that the Government are spending one million euro a day every day on active travel infrastructure, and has criticised Galway City Council for not availing of this funding.
“I was really disappointed to see the decision that was taken last night. I mean, we had hoped that this was Galway City’s first opportunity to dip our toe into the water of developing safe, segregated cycleways for the whole city,” he said.
“The bottom line is, if you build cities to accommodate cars, you get more cars. You build cities to accommodate a mixture of cars and bicycles, that is exactly what you get. This is a complete no brainer. It works in every other city in the world.”
Furthermore, Deputy Cannon encouraged Galway City Council and the people of Galway to look at evidence across the world that shows that the introduction of safe segregated cycleways creates a city that is a far more attractive place to live in, and a city that is more economically successful.
“This was the first opportunity to see how actually that might work and, I think ultimately for the people of Galway to see what a huge benefit it could bring in terms of just a healthier, happier, more sustainable and more successful Galway,” he said.