“Cycling is not just for cities” rural residents tell councillors

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galway daily news people in rural galway calling for better cycling facilities

Local resident groups across Galway are backing a national campaign to encourage councillors to endorse a ‘Vision for Cycling in Rural Ireland.’

Galway Cycling Campaign, The Wheels of Athenry, Gort Cycle Trails, and Oranmore Cycle-Bus are asking their local representatives to create a culture where people on bikes are ‘expected and respected’.

The groups are also calling for a network of connected cycle routes across the county.

A special information leaflet has been sent to every councillor in Co. Galway, and every rural councillor in Ireland, outlining the ‘8 Asks’ of the ‘Vision for Cycling in Rural Ireland’.

Martina Callanan of Galway Cycling Campaign said that ‘change is happening’, and that it is necessary.

“There is a bottomless pit of funding available from the government,” she said. “Most political parties have strong walking and cycling policies.”

“County councillors should lead public discussions to bring along people as we make inevitable changes to improve road safety. The County can learn from the recent fiasco in Salthill: engage early and often. Focus on making it work.”

Marcus Quinlan, who is part of Oranmore Cycle-Bus, said that Galway County Council must prioritise safe cycle routes to schools and car-free zones at school gates.

“A few bollards in Oranmore have transformed the experience of walking, scooting and cycling to school. Every child from Loughrea to Leeaun should have the same opportunity to be safe.”

Máire Daly, of The Wheels of Athenry, said that it was once normal to cycle to work, school, and the dance halls.

“Athenry can’t be left behind towns like Sallins, a similar sized commuter town with a train line,” she said.

“The Naas to Sallins Greenway was awarded €300,000 last month. And we are still campaigning to have a spur to the Athlone to Galway Cycleway! We don’t even have one bike parking rack in the town centre. We deserve better.”

Katleen Bell-Bonjean of Gort Cycle Trails added: “We welcome the recent announcement that the Athlone to Galway Greenway will be routed through south and east Galway.

“The design must be of the highest international standards so that the route is safe and comfortable for people on bikes of all ages and abilities. It must be useful for locals, as well as an attractive tourist experience.”