An allocation of €2.9 million has been made to upgrade the city’s cycling and pedestrian network in an attempt to boost numbers making the commute on two wheels.
At a meeting of Galway City Council, councillors were told that the initial works will take place in areas that are already conducive to cycling – tying in with the progression of the Galway Transport Strategy and the delivery of the Galway City Ring Road.
Senior Executive Engineer with the Council, Uinsinn Finn, said the ultimate aim is to increase the “mode share” of cycling – with only 6.2 per cent of people currently commuting by bike.
“The focus here will be on the primary routes – where we have land to proceed to developing cycling and walking routes in a short duration.
“There are areas like along the Western Distributor Road, and housing developments in Ballybane, where there are significant verges,” said Mr Finn.
“We’re hoping if we’re able to open up cycle routes so that people will take up that mode,” he added.
Funding for the upgrade was secured under the Urban Regeneration and Development Fund and in its application, the Council argued that with Galway’s population to rise by around 40,000 to 120,000 in the next 20 years, sustainable transport methods had to be developed.
“Although the city’s general flat topography is conducive to cycling, the current mode share of 6.2 per cent (Census 2016) is relatively low,” it stated.
“Census data indicates a high proportion of the local population (circa 47 per cent) live within a four-kilometre commute to work and education, and that 52 per cent of commuting trips within the city are four kilometres or under (Census 2011). This indicates a strong potential for more sustainable and active travel to occur.”
The Council emphasised that heavy traffic in the city, coupled with the lack of infrastructure, reinforced the idea that cycling in Galway was unsafe.
To rectify this, it was stressed that an integrated and continuous cycling network was needed.
“The aim of the proposal is to increase cycling to 10 per cent mode share by 2020 as envisioned by the National Cycle Framework to help reduce congestion which is disadvantaging the city in advance of the Galway City Ring Road deliver,” the application stated.
Cllr Frank Fahy (FG) said the city’s current cycle network was not up to standard and that too was putting people off choosing the bike as a means of commuting to and from work.
“We want to encourage people to cycle and we know it’s not the easiest city to cycle in with the weather, but can we maintain cycle infrastructure,” stressed Cllr Fahy.
Cllr Mairéad Farrell (SF) said the low level of cycling in the city was a stark reminder that Galway was crying out for an integrated cycling network.
“We need to implement a plan for delivering a cycle network,” she added.
Bikers do their bit to mark anniversary of blood service
This year marks the tenth anniversary of Blood Bike West, and the big birthday was marked in style with a sun-drenched afternoon at Galway Plaza’s Bike Fest West.
Galway stuntman Mattie Griffin was the headline attraction; there was face painting, games, plenty of ice-cream – and hundreds of motorcycle enthusiasts and families.
The birthday celebrations kicked off with a 160-strong motorcycle spin around the Galway countryside, raising well-needed funds for the volunteering efforts of Blood Bike West.
As a 100% volunteer-run and funded organisation, donations are vitally important for Blood Bike West to continue operating their medical transport in the West of Ireland.
Since its inception in 2012, demand for their volunteers’ services continues to grow: collecting and delivering all manner of urgent medical items regionally and nationally, such as bloods, breast milk, medicines, scans, and equipment.
In 2021 alone, Blood Bike West delivered 983 urgent medical deliveries throughout the country.
As part of Galway City Councils Community, Blood Bike West undertook to operate a 24/7 service, including 165 medication deliveries from pharmacies to the self-isolating and vulnerable during the COVID-19 lockdowns.
Since Blood Bike West’s inception in 2012, this increase sees the ongoing need to replace and renew their fleet of motorcycles.
Their motorbikes, Madison, Heather, Margaret, and newly inaugurated bike Cara, are regularly seen on Galway roads, delivering consignments to and from local and regional hospitals.
Park fun to mark Africa Day
On Saturday next (May 28) in Salthill Park, Galway’s African community invites people to join them in a celebration of culture as part of the national Africa Day celebrations.
Africa United Galway, emerging from lockdown and having hosted online festivals for the past two years, will be delivering a family fun day event.
Africa Day 2022 will reinforce a collaboration between Africa United Galway and Galway Africa Diaspora, Shining Light Galway and GoCom Radio (broadcasting live), who have worked to create a festival that will showcase Galway as a city of culture.
Among the performances on the day will be Afrobeat dancer Lapree Lala of Southside Moves, who will show how to dance in African style; Elikya Band will be bringing indigenous African Congolese music; The Youth Performances will be displaying their talent in rap, singing, speaking, and dancing and for the young at heart.
Galway Afrobeat performer Dave Kody will get the crowd moving and there will be poetry through spoken word and cultural displays. There will be a photo booth and face painting and everyone will get to have a taste of African cuisines.
In the spirit of inclusion and integration, The St Nicholas Collegiate Church Parish Choir will be presenting a special African performance as well as a feature presentation by the Hession School of Irish Dance, who will be presenting the famous Riverdance.
Also organised is a football friendly between the African community and An Garda Siochana.
The Mayor, Colette Connolly, will officially be opening the event with a keynote speech and several African Ambassadors are expected to be present on the day to reinforce the culture, beauty and strength of Africa and support for its people.
Africa Day is sponsored by Irish Aid and supported by Galway City Council.
Domestic Violence Response recorded highest number of clients in 24 years under Covid ‘shadow’
BY TIFFANY GREENWALDT-SIMON
A domestic violence support charity in Galway has recorded its highest number of clients in 24 years – “under the shadow” of Covid-19.
Domestic Violence Response (DVR), which is based in Moycullen, also reported its highest level of counselling support sessions in its 2021 annual report published last week.
The charity saw 136 new clients in 2021, and a total of 266 people utilised its services. It also saw a significant increase of return service users.
The support service also provided 51 nights of emergency accommodation through a partnership between Airbnb, Safe Ireland, and Women’s Aid.
Elizabeth Power, Coordinator of DVR Galway, said: “Our 2021 annual report highlights the stark reality of the level of domestic violence in Galway. Under the shadow of Covid-19, DVR recorded the highest number of clients in our 24-year history and delivered the highest number of support services.
“Our staff noted increases in the level of worrying and harrowing experiences of control and abuse. The trauma of these experiences will live with our service users long after Covid-19 fades into memory.
“While Covid-19 restrictions are behind us, domestic violence continues to be present in hundreds of homes throughout Galway.
“As we move through 2022, we will continue to provide our much-needed services to women and men throughout Galway, with an extensive counselling support and advocacy service and a number of new initiatives including a partnership with the HSE which will be launched in the coming months.”
For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune.
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