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Cyclists demand action over blackspots

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Date Published: 27-Oct-2009

CYCLISTS are being forced off the road by impatient motorists who are taking over the cycle paths and forming two lanes instead of one, putting these vulnerable road users at risk of their lives, it has been claimed.

The worst black spots for the city’s two-wheeled commuters are in Knocknacarra, at the Western Distributor Road roundabout and the B&Q roundabout. They are also being shoved onto footpaths down the hill past Rahoon cemetery because motorists are not maintaining the 1.5m clearance for cyclists.

Shane Foran, chairman of the Galway Cycling Campaign, is urging Galway City Council to change cycle lanes into hard shoulders in a bid to entice motorists to obey the rules of the road more comprehensively.

While gardaí in Galway appear to have been reluctant to fine motorists who drive illegally in cycle lanes, they regularly target drivers who travel in the hard shoulders to gain a few metres in peak hour traffic.

The lobby group is also urging a change in the law to allow cyclists to overtake cars on the footpath side of the road. This is currently illegal but is causing a massive headache for people on bikes as they do not have the speed to overtake cars by crossing over into the oncoming traffic lane.

Roundabouts have become particularly hazardous for Galway cyclists.“To negotiate a roundabout, a cyclist has to be in the same traffic flow for entering or exiting, yet motorists are trying to overtake them by racing past. They are only delayed by a few seconds if they allow the cyclist to go in front. We’d appeal to motorists to give cyclists the space to get on and off the roundabout safely,” Mr Foran said.

The campaign is pushing for changes in the next City Development Plan, which is currently under review.

They want the council to install raised pedestrian crossings at roundabouts to ensure motorists slow down before they go onto a roundabout. They are also campaigning for decreased speed limits of 30kph in housing estates and near schools and colleges.

In addition they want a clause in the plan which says that cyclists who travel the wrong way up a one-way street will not be penalised. Mr Foran said this change was agreed to in the talks leading up to the last city development plan but was not included in the final version of the printed document.

“It’s very common in Germany, Holland and Belgium for cyclists to cycle against the traffic on a one-way street. Provided they do so in a considerate and respectful manner, there is no particular safety issue.

With people tightening their belts coupled with the usual traffic jams, more Galwegians are taking to bikes than ever before. The most recent data comes from the census which showed the number of commuters who travelled to work by bike had increased by 51% between 2002 and 2006. The same report found that 4.4% of commuters to the city travelled by bike, which is the highest percentage of any city in the country.

Galway in Days Gone By

The way we were – Protecting archives of our past

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A photo of Galway city centre from the county council's archives

People’s living conditions less than 100 years ago were frightening. We have come a long way. We talk about water charges today, but back then the local District Councils were erecting pumps for local communities and the lovely town of Mountbellew, according to Council minutes, had open sewers,” says Galway County Council archivist Patria McWalter.

Patria believes we “need to take pride in our history, and we should take the same pride in our historical records as we do in our built heritage”. When you see the wealth of material in her care, this belief makes sense.

She is in charge of caring for the rich collection of administrative records owned by Galway County Council and says “these records are as much part of our history as the Rock of Cashel is. They document our lives and our ancestors’ lives. And nobody can plan for the future unless you learn from the past, what worked and what didn’t”.

Archivists and librarians are often unfairly regarded as being dry, academic types, but that’s certainly not true of Patria. Her enthusiasm is infectious as she turns the pages of several minute books from Galway’s Rural District Councils, all of them at least 100 years old.

Part of her role involved cataloguing all the records of the Councils – Ballinasloe, Clifden, Galway, Gort, Loughrea, Mountbellew, Portumna and Tuam. These records mostly consisted of minutes of various meetings.

When she was cataloguing them she realised their worth to local historians and researchers, so she decided to compile a guide to their content. The result is For the Record: The Archives of Galway’s Rural District Councils, which will be a valuable asset to anybody with an interest in history.

Many representatives on these Councils were local personalities and several were arrested during the political upheaval of the era, she explains.

And, ushering in a new era in history, women were allowed to sit on these Rural District Councils – at the time they were not allowed to sit on County Councils.

All of this information is included in Patria’s introductory essay to the attractively produced A4 size guide, which gives a glimpse into how these Rural Councils operated and the way political thinking changed in Ireland during a short 26-year period. In the early 1900s, these Councils supported Home Rule, but by 1920, they were calling for full independence and refusing to recognise the British administration.

“I love the tone,” says Patria of the minutes from meetings. “The language was very emotive.”

That was certainly true of the Gort Rural District Council. At a meeting in 1907, following riots in Dublin at the premiere of JM Synge’s play, The Playboy of the Western World the councillors’ response was vehement. They recorded their decision to “protest most emphatically against the libellous comedy, The Playboy of the Western World, that was belched forth during the past week in the Abbey Theatre, Dublin, under the fostering care of Lady Gregory and Mr Yeats. We congratulate the good people of Dublin in howling down the gross buffoonery and immoral suggestions that are scattered throughout this scandalous performance.

 

For more from the archives see this week’s Tribunes here

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Archive News

Real Galway flavour to intermediate club hurling battle in Birr

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Date Published: 23-Jan-2013

images/files/images/x3_Courthouse.jpg

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Athenry fail to take chances as they bow out of Junior Cup

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Date Published: 29-Jan-2013

Athenry FC 1

Kilbarrack United 2

(After extra time)

For the second year in succession Athenry were done in extra time in the FAI Junior Cup as last season’s beaten finalist’s came from behind to snatch an excellent game in Moanbawn on Sunday afternoon.

On a heavy pitch that was only playable following extensive groundwork by club officials all morning, the home side were by far the better side in the opening half, but failed to take advantage of a number of opportunities that came their way.

An Alan O’Donovan penalty gave them a merited advantage just after the restart, but thereafter were on the back foot as Kilbarrack took over, but for all their pressing, the home rearguard were dealing comfortably with their forays.

However they were struck a body blow just six minutes from time, as big striker Keith Kirwan was left all alone at the far post to head the equaliser and from that point on the Dubliners were the better side.

They started off the extra time in the ascendancy and enjoying all the momentum before striking for a good winning goal on 104 minutes. A strong bench allowed them to make some necessary changes and it was not a facility that was available to Athenry manager Gabriel Glavin.

With Gary Forde and Gary Delaney out through suspension following their sending off against OLBC in the previous round, and Seamie Crowe injured, it left their bench rather threadbare with just a number of young squad players available.

Playing with the aid of the slight incline and any wind advantage going, the home side had a Connor Cannon effort on target in the opening minute, while John Meleady was just over with a flick at the other end.

Meleady then tested Andrew Walsh who saved comfortably, before the goalkeeper pulled off a brilliant double save on 14 minutes.

Firstly he went full length to push away a Meleady shot and was then back on his feet to parry David Jackson’s close-range rebound.

For more, read this week’s Connacht Sentinel.

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