The public bike scheme in Galway City is proving extremely popular, with almost 2,000 journeys recorded in just one month.
And the National Transport Authority is now looking at four new locations for the bikes to facilitate cross-river journeys – including Salthill, Knocknacarra and Renmore.
According to figures from the NTA for March – the most up-to-date available – the bikes in the city were used on 1,980 occasions.
The total distance travelled during that period was 2,459km, and the average trip duration was 15 minutes.
The NTA said it is “very satisfied” with the operation of the scheme to date.
“While the bike scheme is still in its early stages, membership in each city has been growing well. The rate of usage is also increasing.
“The authority is closely monitoring the operation of the scheme and is planning to undertake marketing and other activities in Galway in order to generate additional users,” Chief Executive Anne Graham said.
There are 195 bikes in Galway at a total of 15 docking stations – four other proposed stations were never installed due to strong opposition from locals.
“However, the authority is examining proposals for four alternative stations to service cross-river demand,” said Ms Graham.
Galway West Fine Gael Deputy Seán Kyne called for the expansion of the scheme ahead of the summer season.
“From the launch of the Dublin Bikes Scheme five years ago, I was convinced that Galway would benefit even more with its own bike rental scheme.
“The layout and design of our city is very suited to bike journeys and the scheme provides an easy, efficient and cost-effective way of getting around the city.
“As with the Dublin scheme – which has had two expansions so far – the focus should now be expanding the Galway scheme outwards to areas such the Westside, Salthill and Knocknacarra to the east and to Mervue, Renmore and Roscam to the east,” said Deputy Kyne.
GAA club’s tournament honours stalwart who died at just 28
The untimely passing of a city GAA stalwart six years ago is still deeply felt by the club he represented but he remains an inspiration to young up-and-coming footballers who will be displaying their skills this weekend.
The Darragh Frain Memorial Tournament for under-age teams will take place in St James’ GAA grounds at Mervue tomorrow, Saturday, when many memories of a great young clubman will be exchanged.
Darragh, from Lurgan Park in Renmore, was just 28 years of age when he lost his battle with cancer in 2016. Since then his beloved club has been organising a tournament for young footballers that’s proving immensely popular.
For tomorrow’s event, the St James club will entertain local teams including St Michael’s, Salthill-Knocknacarra, Killanin and an Cheathrú Rua, as well as Kiltane (Bangor Erris) and Elphin-Ballinameen from North Roscommon.
It is a nine-a-side tournament, which takes place from 11am to 5pm, and will involve Under-11 teams who will compete against each other during the day.
The fact that Darragh’s late father, Tom Frain Senior, hailed from Roscommon means that GAA support for the event is coming from both counties – this makes it extra special, as well as adding to the profile of the tournament.
Best friend and one of the event’s main organisers, another St James stalwart David Henry explained that this was the sixth year of the tournament and that Darragh would be very pleased that his name was being associated with the development of under-age football.
‘Too many cafés’ as city retail continues to decline
The changing face of Galway city centre is a source of concern to those who say it reflects a decline for people in terms of retail choices.
Those who regret the loss of several long-standing family-run operations in the city in recent years don’t believe that what has replaced them has enhanced the appearance of Shop Street, in particular.
“We are looking at a proliferation of coffee shops, bookies and mobile phone outlets in their place,” observed long-standing city centre businessman Tom Nally.
Cllr Niall McNelis agreed there were far too many coffee shops in the city centre and believed that anything that has been zoned retail by the Council should remain retail.
The Labour Councillor said a proper retail strategy needed to be adopted and some of the ‘big-name brands’ needed to be encouraged into the centre of Galway to lure shoppers into town.
Meanwhile, popular barber Tom Nally regretted the number of family operations that have ceased trading in the recent past.
“It is sad to see the long-established family businesses in the city centre going and it would be great to say that what is replacing them will enhance our streets . . . but unfortunately this is not the case,” he added.
Mr Nally who has been operating out of his High Street premises for almost 50 years, said the number of unoccupied premises in an around the city centre was a new phenomenon.
State cracks down on quick-buck landlords
New measures to clamp down on illegal short-term lets in the city will kick in next month, in an attempt to tackle mounting pressure on the rental market.
From September 1, sites such as Airbnb and Booking.com will no longer be allowed to advertise short-term rentals if the correct planning permission is not in place.
The measure seeks to strengthen laws introduced in 2019 which state that the use of a property for short-term letting for longer than 90 days in a rent-pressure zone requires permission from the local authority.
City Councillor Niall Murphy (Green) said the move follows on from an objection he lodged with the Advertising Standards Authority for Ireland (ASAI).
“The ASAI said it couldn’t be expected to police these ads so the websites like Airbnb were off the hook. But after September, they will have to ensure that those advertising on their sites have planning permission,” he said.
The proliferation of short-term lets in the city has been a contentious issue for a number of years, with scores of holiday leases available at the same time as city residents are battling it out for an extremely limited number of rental properties.
This week, almost 400 short-term lets were available on the leading website, Airbnb, while just 19 homes were up for rent on Daft.ie.