Smarter Travel initiatives to benefit cycling

The Galway Transportation Unit is set to finalise its bid for up to €20m from a ‘pot’ of €50m central funding available under the Smarter Travel initiative that could transform Galway with a new sustainable transport system.

The money would be used to implement, among other things, policies to increase the use of cycling and introduce more cyclist friendly measures to the Irish city.

Galway had positioned itself earlier this year as a front-runner to beat Limerick, Cork, and Waterford to win the competitive process and secure millions of euro for public transport initiatives but the funding all hinges on a successful submission, which has to be submitted by October 30.

The Transportation Unit’s wide-ranging submission, which is a joint bid from Galway City and County Councils, will reflect the views of the public as well as transport ‘stakeholders’ in the city.

A public consultation process received 38 submissions from the public as well as from groups such as the Galway City Community Forum, Galway Cycling Campaign, and transport consultants and saw suggestions such as lower speed limits in the city, the introduction of a rent-a-bike scheme like the new initiative in Dublin, more bike parking facilities and more measures to protect cyclists.

The Galway Cycling Campaign said that Galway is ideally suited to benefit from measures that promote sustainable transport.

Galway’s small size and traditional cycling culture make it a perfect city to promote cycling initiatives, according to Galway Cycling Campaign research officer Bart Venneman: “According to the last census, 44 per cent of workers, 70 per cent of college students and 56 per cent of secondary students in Galway live within a 25-minute cycle of their place of study or work. These short distances are perfect for cycling, if you’re reasonably fit and able.”

Cycle commuting in Galway grew by 51 per cent between 2002-2006. The 4.4% who commute by bicycle represent the highest proportion in the country, and the potential is there to increase this figure substantially.

Mr Venneman added: “Because of the bicycle’s great manoeuvrability, you can nip across town at any hour without the hassle of traffic jams. It’s also cheap, environmentally friendly, and great exercise.”