An advocacy group for cyclists in Galway has hit out at the “inherently car-dependent” proposals for the development of a new city suburb in Ardaun.
Galway Cycling Campaign have rejected claims that the new suburb would have good connectivity to the city and surrounding employment hubs – and said that the plans would only add cars to already gridlocked roads.
In September, Galway City Council released a ‘mini City Development Plan’ for Ardaun in which they outlined how construction of some 1,098 housing units on the east side of the city could start as early as 2019 – supporting an estimated 3,000 inhabitants.
Planners outlined a vision of “a place where cycling, walking and public transport is promoted and embedded through design, layout, appropriate use mixes and density standards”.
However, Public Relations Officer for Galway Cycling Campaign, Oisín Ó Nidh, said that the proposals lack any certainty in areas referencing pedestrian and cyclist access.
“It’s kind of pie in the sky stuff,” said Mr Ó Nidh. “A lot of it was set down without timelines or any concrete proposals – they don’t say, ‘we will do this’ or ‘we will build this before the housing’ – we don’t know when you would see some of these proposals.”
The campaign group have said that proposed access routes to the new residential area will be wholly unsafe for cyclists and pedestrians.
They point to evidence cited in the National Cycle Policy Framework (2009) which states that research carried out on the Swords Bypass in Dublin concluded that the accident rate for two-wheelers on roundabouts was five times higher than they were expecting.
Mr Ó Nidh said that the suggestion of creating an ‘urban village’ in Ardaun, similar to Salthill, is unsuitable given its intersection by the N6.
“That roundabout [Martin] is a big barrier for anyone trying to get to and from the Galway Clinic already – that is without thousands of people living in Ardaun.
“Bóthar an Chóiste on the Headford Road would be a better comparison because it is situated on a national road – that would make more sense.
“This is even worse than Knocknacarra because at least in Knocknacarra, cyclists and pedestrians don’t have to navigate their way along a busy dual-carriageway,” said Oisín.
The campaigners highlighted that the Council has mentioned a ‘public transport’ bridge in their proposals – linking Ardaun to Doughiska.
However, they criticised the fact that it is not a prerequisite for the development to proceed – with Mr Ó Nidh arguing that bridges over the N6 need to be front and centre to these plans.
“What they would really want to have is concrete proposals for a way to get people over that motorway – they need a different route because these proposals are just not feasible,” he said.
Mr Ó Nidh said that these proposals should be very carefully considered before any final development plan is signed off on.
“I would say they have to go back to the drawing board and build a concrete proposal of what they envisage this town to be.
“They need to make it a town where walking and cycling are supported.
“The big problem is that Ardaun was a concept before the motorway was even built – that kind of split it in two and they have been trying to work around that since,” he pointed out.