World of Politics with Harry McGee
From the age of about ten I started cycling to school every day, from Glenard to Sea Road – not only round trip in the morning and afternoon, but also going -back to lunchtime – because everyone had dinner in the middle of the day in the 1980s.
The concept of separate facilities for cycling at the time was as foreign as having spaceship parking. Traffic was much lighter, however; only a third, maybe a quarter, of the cars on the road today.
I remember bicycle accidents – fatal and serious – during my youth. I would say that up to half of the students in my school cycle every day.
This image has changed over the years. The Galway Transport Strategy cites a 2011 census figure which indicates that 5% of people cycle to work, school or university.
The city is compact and relatively small. The strategy recommends “high quality walking and cycling facilities” to encourage more people to walk and cycle to school, work, shopping or for leisure.
So what has happened in the 30 years since I left Galway?
Traffic volumes have increased and the number of people using bicycles for commuting has decreased. There are a few cycle lanes in the town but the percentage is very low compared to other Irish towns.
I spent a few hours cycling around Galway last week and wrote an article about it for The Irish Times. I cycled to and from school as a child, but I wouldn’t put my eleven year old daughter on a bike in Galway. It’s just not safe enough.
I asked Galway City Council a number of questions last week and they told me there was a total of 20.45 kilometers in the city – this excludes off-road cycle paths and parks such than NUIG.
For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune.
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