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CITY TRIBUNE

Cycling campaigners want 30km/h speed limit

Enda Cunningham

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Cycling advocates have called for the speed limit in Galway City to be temporarily cut to 30km/h for the duration of the Covid-19 emergency.

Galway Cycling Campaign has also called for the N6 Headford Road to be reduced from four lanes to two for vehicular traffic – with the other two reserved for cyclists.

The group called for the changes to be introduced for the duration of the crisis.

Kevin Jennings, Chair of Galway Cycling Campaign said: “The Council should temporarily reduce the speed limit to 30 km/h within the city.

“If a car moving at 50 km/h hits a person walking, there is a 50% chance that person will die. At 30 km/h, that same person has a 95% chance of surviving injuries.”

He said that combining poor infrastructure with speeding vehicles on mostly empty roads, it is a deeply unpleasant experience for people to cycle on the Headford Road at the moment.

“Galway City Council should temporarily reduce the four-lane Headford Road to two lanes for vehicle traffic, and reallocate the other two lanes for people on bicycles.

“This will do three things: give more space and better road conditions to cyclists, double the width of footpaths for pedestrians, and encourage motorists to slow down.

“The Council can do this for all four-lane roads across the city to make our roads safer and a more pleasant experience for people walking and  cycling.”

Group spokesperson Martina Callanan noted there had been a series of collisions – some serious – on a 1km stretch of the Headford Road.

“This is a dangerous route for adults and children on bicycles making their way from home into town to work and school. The bike lane is essentially an extended piece of pavement. It is cut across by access roads to retail parks so you have to come off the path frequently where other traffic is given priority.

“The Headford Road is a congested main route from north Galway into the city and on to the university. Though Galway has the second highest percentage of commuters cycling in a city, you are mainly sharing the roads with other motor vehicle users and there are very few dedicated and segregated cycle tracks.

“Galway is a perfect city for bikes due to its size. During the coronavirus more people are taking up cycling as a way of transport and for exercise, and children are learning and enjoying this important life skill,” said Ms Callanan, pointing to recent ambitious plans announced by European cities.

She said: “Last week Milan and Brussels announced even lower speed limits of 20 km/h for the summer during coronavirus. They both will reallocate road space to people on foot and on bikes. These two actions will give more space to people trying to social distance and stay well during a deadly pandemic. Galway should take inspiration from these cities and act immediately.

“Over 60 towns and cities worldwide have quickly installed low-cost temporary measures by using cones to widen footpaths and repurposing full vehicle lanes to cycle lanes. Dublin has now joined Berlin, Washington DC and London in reallocating road space to ensure social distancing and make safer streets.

“Galway councils should do the same. There are quick, cheap measures that can happen to protect public health. People walking to the pharmacy should not have to choose risking their lives by walking or queuing too close to people outside their family groups, or choosing risk of a road collision by stepping off narrow footpaths onto roads,” said Ms Callanan.

CITY TRIBUNE

Designated drinking zones in city centre are ‘only solution’

Stephen Corrigan

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From this week’s Galway City Tribune – Properly staffed designated areas are the only solution to out-of-control outdoor boozing, according to the city councillor who drafted the city’s drinking bylaws.

Cllr Peter Keane told the Galway City Tribune it was likely that councillors would seek to ‘tweak’ the existing bylaws in the near future to find a long-term solution that would enable young people to ‘enjoy a drink outdoors in a safe and controlled environment’, not just now, but in the future too.

To avoid a repeat of scenes around Spanish Arch over recent weekends, the Fianna Fáil councillor said providing areas where the consumption of alcohol was allowed would enable Gardaí to properly enforce the drinking bylaws throughout the rest of the city.

He said he could ‘absolutely appreciate the concerns of residents’ in the Claddagh and elsewhere where anti-social behaviour including urinating in gardens ‘and worse’ had been a blight in recent weeks, but said with proper control, those worst excesses could be avoided.

In the first ten days of June, 83 on-the-spot fines were issued in the city for drinking in a public place.

And last Saturday night, Gardaí closed off the Quincentenary Bridge after hundreds of young people gathered on the carriageway and turned it into a “highly-dangerous road traffic risk situation”.

“Control is the key word for me. Gardaí don’t have the resources, nor do they have the appetite as far as I can see, to deal with the lack of control there has been during the recent good weather.
“If you were to designate, say for example the Spanish Arch or a green area in Salthill, where the bylaws didn’t apply, you could put a number of wardens in place there to control the situation. You could provide adequate bins and toilets, and enough bodies to staff it, and that would allow gardaí to police the bylaws elsewhere,” said Cllr Keane.
This is a shortened preview version of this article. To read the rest of the story and coverage of the re-opening of the hospitality sector and outdoor dining, see this week’s Galway City Tribune. You can buy a digital edition HERE.

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CITY TRIBUNE

Dispute simmers between businesses and Council over outdoor spaces

Dara Bradley

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From this week’s Galway City Tribune – Friction between businesses and local government over the reclaiming of public space to facilitate outside hospitality marred the beginning of the city’s ‘outdoor summer’.

Galway City Council has come under fire over its handling of plans by bars and restaurants to use street furniture to facilitate outdoor dining and drinking.

Most city watering holes and eateries resumed trading on Bank Holiday Monday – serving outdoors only – for the first time since Christmas, and the authorities reported that it was successful for the most part, although it needed time to ‘bed in’.

The city vintners’ group said its members with adequate outdoor space were happy to be back and described the mood as ‘euphoric’ in places.

But several outlets expressed disappointment with the Council.

In Eyre Square, the Skeff Late Bar and Kitchen claimed it had to cancel 200 advance bookings – up to 800 people – for this week, after the Council refused permission for “extended outdoor seating”.

On Middle Street, Sangria Tapas Restaurant lashed the Council for refusing it permission to use certain types of awning and windbreakers to facilitate outdoor dining. “Surely the powers that be can take time to support the industry that supports the city?” its proprietor said in a complaint to City Hall.

‘Back the West’, businesses criticised the Council for rowing back on promises to provide additional outdoor space on Dominick Street Lower and Dominick Street Upper, in time for outdoor hospitality’s reopening on June 7.
This is a shortened preview version of this article. To read the rest of the story, see this week’s Galway City Tribune. You can buy a digital edition HERE.

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CITY TRIBUNE

Council chief: ‘landlords see 4% rent increase cap as a target’

Enda Cunningham

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From this week’s Galway City Tribune – The Chief Executive of Galway City Council has said that the 4% annual cap on residential rent increases is now seen as a target by many landlords.

Brendan McGrath said that affordability continues to be a major problem for renters in the city and that an increasing number of people availing of the Housing Assistance Payment (HAP) scheme have to pay ‘top ups’ to their landlords.

The HAP scheme replaces rent supplement for those with a long-term housing need – the individual finds a private rented accommodation within specific rent caps and the Council pays the landlord directly. The tenant then pays a rent to the Council based on their weekly household income.

The maximum monthly rents under the scheme range from €330 for an adult in shared accommodation to €900 for a single parent or couple with three kids.

Based on their household size, tenants can also apply for a 20% extra ‘discretionary’ payment on top of their HAP payment.

However, Mr McGrath said many on the HAP scheme in Galway have to pay top ups to their landlords.

“Rents as a percentage of income is increasing and affordability remains a major problem for the city’s renters. The majority of HAP tenants require additional discretionary payments to assist them in maintaining their tenancies, particularly single person households.

“An increasing number of HAP tenants now have to pay top ups to their landlords even with the 20% extra HAP discretionary payment applied for their particular household size,” Mr McGrath said in a report to councillors.
This is a shortened preview version of this article. To read the rest of the story, see this week’s Galway City Tribune. You can buy a digital edition HERE.

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