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Reduce, Bus-use and Cycle

Mary Bennett, in launching the ‘Galway Transport-Engage for a liveable city’ said; “An efficient transport system is vital for the well-being of our citizens” -an excellent start, but then ruined it by continuing; “and to making our city an attractive location for tourism, industry and commerce”. All very well, but it is the unfortunate sidetracking of our citizens’ transport needs by business and commercial needs that has got us into the unholy mess we’re in.

If we genuinely wish to improve ALL transport options/infrastructure in Galway, then we need a complete break with the commercially oriented/focused transport concepts of the past and engage sincerely with with a vision of how a city like Galway can change from a largely unplanned road network foisted upon a largely unplanned urban sprawl. The focus here should be on REDUCING traffic volumes in the city primarily, as well as the attendant and necessary engineered/technological solutions to speed-up volume FLOW. If this is not something that the people initiating the Transport Forum are willing to even consider, THEN READ NO FURTHER.

There are 2 main problems with traffic in Galway currently, and they are:

1. The large volume of traffic that flows INTO and OUT OF Galway to towns in the city’s hinterland every morning and evening:

I have travelled to many countries, and several European ones exemplify modern transport systems that are NOT designed around cars/trucks. Switzerland is a good example. In any medium to large Swiss city, there exists a RURAL bus transport system that operates within a radius of 10km-50km depending on city size. This means that there is a cheap and accessible bus network at 20-30 minute intervals that connects with the various urban centres. In tandem with their excellent commuter rail network, Switzerland is a country in which you rarely see traffic gridlock – even in Geneva or Zurich. We don’t need to invent the wheel in Galway, and why this has never been tried here is beyond me. You can’t even get a commuter bus from Oranmore or Barna into Galway!! If a bus network operated connecting places like Spiddal, Headford, Oughterard, Tuam, Loughrea and Gort, at 20 minute intervals during rush hours, this would eliminate thousands of cars from our city roads every day. If it works in other countries, it will work here also. However, I am long enough living in this country, not to naively believe that this sort of futuristic concept will soon be adopted.

2. The enormous proportion of road users that do not use public transport or do not walk/cycle WITHIN the city limits-especially those travelling less than 3km:

We have a lamentably poor public transport system in the city. Bus routes are haphazard-e.g. there is a very good service here in Knocknacarra by the City Direct Bus Co. to/from the CITY CENTRE, but nothing at all by this company that will take me ACROSS the city without having to get another bus in Eyre Square. For a DIRECT bus to e.g. Renmore, I have to walk 15 minutes down Clybaun Road to get to a stop run by Bus Eireann, and even then it is only every second bus that actually goes across the city. Bus- stop timetables by either company do not display the actual times that buses stop there, and many stops have no  timetables at all and some have not even got shelters. And of course there is no bus transport in Galway Winter or Summer after 11.30pm!!

School/College-going students are the biggest target for a good city bus network. The biggest proportion of people who use cars to travel less than 3km in the city are students of all ages. This ranges from children being driven to schools to older students driving themselves to the 2 colleges and all because a decent school-bus network has NEVER existed in the city. If this particular schools related problem was all that the Transport Forum addressed then I would regard it as a major success.

In addition, if more people were able to walk and cycle safely in the city, then this too would reduce our dependence on cars. I own a bicycle, but yet, 10 years after completion of the Western Distributor Road, (no, it DOESN’T have a cycle lane) 18 years after completion of a dual-carriageway into the city centre and 25 years after the completion of the Quincentenary Bridge, I can’t cycle across town to say Merlin Park using cycle lanes. Those that do exist are poorly constructed and dangerous to use because they exist for short distances only.

All of the points I have made in relation to these 2 issues above have been made by others in this city since traffic volumes became a menace to the quality of life in Galway about 25 years ago. They have been completely ignored and I don’t suppose anything will change in relation to either of them as long as commercial interests control transport strategy in the city. The building of several large high-rise car parks in the city centre over the last 20 years is evidence of the medieval thinking that has been associated with transport policy here, and all because of the involvement of business interests. Business is important to life, but if we really want to improve transport quality in Galway, then a more enlightened approach is needed. I am not optimistic though.

 

 

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Traffic problems on Fr Griffin

Traffic problems extremely bad on Fr Griffin Rd at Claddagh -Raven terrace.
Traffic coming from direction of city and traffic coming from direction of
Salthill always seem to get stuck at Raven terrace. Ludicrous scenario
whereby traffic coming from Claddagh can turn right towards city and traffic
from city can turn right on to Raven terrace and traffic from Salthill
can turn right at Claddagh basin. There is too much happening
at one small junction and the volume of traffic at peak times makes
this area a no go.
Seal off Raven terrace and find an access to Dominick street
via a different route.

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A temporary rail stop at Roscam

A temporary rail stop could be put in place at Roscam for the Volvo Ocean Race finale. The Permanent Defence Forces engineers might have a temporary steel bridge available that could be used as a platform. In the adjacent ghost estate, most of the proposed houses only have foundations put in. This could be used as a park and ride carpark if it was levelled off with gravel. An extra permanent way worker could be employed for passenger safety.

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2 lanes on the upper newcastle road/ Traffic lights at Distillery Road

Remove the parking spaces on the road opposite St Anthonys on the upper newcastle road/ moycullen road and make the road into town 2 lanes. 1 for left over the bridge and the right lane for town. the cars parked on the road out of town are dangerous especially when its dark and raining because you have to swerve out to pass them.

also remove the traffic lights at distillery road or at least switch them off at night time. these lights are completely useless. These lights were the worst idea ever and a typical Galway city response to answer all problems…….traffic lights

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Street lights are needed on the back road of Mincloon that leads to both Ballagh and Moycullen…

A lot of cars are using this route now. It’s very dangerous at night time as you can’t see the edges of the roads – there is a sheer drop into a field where the crossroads at Mincloon and Clybawn road intersect! Cross at your own peril! : ) Some sort of traffic lights are also needed here as visibility is not the best.  Donkey and cart sized roads just don’t work in today’s version of Galway….you also have to pull over when there is oncoming traffic as there is only really room for cars to travel safely in one direction. The problem is that the road wasn’t built with 4 x 4′s in mind and other vehicles never mind the trucks that take the route now….Some mornings en-route to work I literally cross my fingers and hope for the best…so far so good…

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“Bus- & bike-estrianised”/”no car”/”green” zones

“Bus- & bike-estrianised”/”no car”/”green” zones. Since Galway is an old town with limited room to expand roads for bus lanes, below is the measure I have thought of for several years.

In the same way that e.g. Shop Street is now pedestrianised, make every road from e.g. the Cathedral in into dedicated bus lanes and cycle lanes. No cars allowed. People who want to continue driving will be blocked and have to go around. I’ll let someone in City Council with statistics and population areas etc. decide where the geographical radius should be.

With a little effort busses can be redirected from failing routes to make a bus & bike “green zone” where people can rely on quick and frequent bus travel that is much faster than getting in their car. With no traffic to disrupt timetables and a frequent service, this should be so good that people don’t even need to rely on a timetable at rush hours but just expect there to be a bus at the closest stop within 3-4 mins.

An additional feature to mix the use of busses and bikes would be plenty of bike racks on the busses to allow the option of bus use for the long haul popular stretch of someone’s route, and a bike to do the book-end hops from door to door if desired.

The radius of the “no cars” zone could be expanded as needed to alleviate congestion over time e.g. to the Westwood hotel in Newcastle and way out to Knocknacarra shopping centre. Useful bus routes all the way from the suburbs where there might be room for both cars and bus lanes would mean that people could walk to a stop and leave the car at home. Otherwise park and ride areas would have to be provided (headache).

Either way, not only would an initial “green zone” ease congestion around the city centre, it would get the population into the culture of using the bus. Word of mouth on what a breath of fresh air it is to virally spread adoption.

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Hash marks on the roundabouts and a ban on roadworks

Would like to see a birds eye view (aerial shot) of daily city traffic gridlock to show just how widespread it is….but even that would not stir any follow-up action or get the attention it needs in Galway.  The council could start by painting hash marks on the roundabouts such as Galway Shopping Centre to prevent lanes being blocked off.  Also a ban on roadworks on main arteries such as the Quin Bridge until nightime like in Dublin and less ‘apologising’ for roadworks in Winter when the weather is at its worst.  Everthing in our town is designed to stop traffic rather than keep it moving out.  What patient people Galway has had over the last 10-15 years having to endure the frustration, expense, lost time and productivity of daily traffic whether driving or living in the city…..welcome to Galway, the ‘City of Traffic’ where your congestion is worse than cities 10 times its size.