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Man behind city ‘kissing gates’ barriers project wins nomination


From this week's Galway City Tribune

From this week's Galway City Tribune

Man behind city ‘kissing gates’ barriers project wins nomination Man behind city ‘kissing gates’ barriers project wins nomination

Galway-based active travel and accessibility advocate David Corley has been nominated as a finalist in the .ie Digital Town Awards 2024, for his contribution to addressing accessibility issues.

He has been a vocal campaigner against so-called ‘kissing gates’ which allow able-bodied pedestrians pass through, but have been heavily criticised for blocking access to people with disabilities and others.

There have been long standing discussions within Galway City Council about the value of kissing gates, with some people claiming that they keep out scrambler motor bikes and horses.

But many disability and active travel advocates claim that those concerns are overstated, and the real impact is that people on mobility scooters, or wheelchairs, or pushing a double-buggy or a large bike are denied access to public parks or footpaths.

In order for Galway City Council to have an informed discussion on the topic they needed to know where they were. Identifying those locations was the challenge.

There were no complete records of where the gates were, since historically, some were installed by different sections of the council, or by private landowners.

David Corley stepped in with his #barriers2Galway project which compiled a data map of all access barriers across the city.

City Councillor Niall Murphy, who nominated this project for the Digital Towns Award, said: “The barriers were being navigated, awkwardly, by many walkers and cyclists each day, so the simplest solutions was to get those people to contribute a description and photograph of the barriers they were familiar with.

“In a brief two weeks over 60 kissing gates and many other barriers were identified, photographed and added to a digital map. A general call-out on X ( then twitter) and other social media platforms, and through advocacy groups allowed this crowdsourcing project to grow.

“All of this was implemented outside of the council, driven by one interested individual, David Corley, and supported by many who just want Galway to be an easier to town to get around.”

Cllr Murphy added that the report on ‘Access Control Points’ was presented to councillors based on an audit of the locations on the map. While it has been agreed to remove the gates from three of the locations, further work was needed to make Galway an easier place to get around, he said.

Work on the map continues and there are now about 450 locations with accessibility challenges.

“The City Development Plan calls for an audit of the city public spaces for accessibility for people with disabilities. The council has yet to set aside funding for this, but the kissing gates project shows how this type of information can be gathered quickly and cheaply with the right digital tools.”

The winners will be announced at the Digital Town Award Ceremony in the Sheraton Hotel, Athlone on May 24.

Pictured: An example of a kissing gate, which restricts access to people with disabilities and others.



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