Tue 27th October 2009
Impatient motorists putting lives at risk
CYCLISTS are being forced off the road by impatient motorists who are taking over the cycle paths and forming two lanes instead of one, putting these vulnerable road users at risk of their lives, it has been claimed.
The worst black spots for the city’s two-wheeled commuters are in Knocknacarra, at the Western Distributor Road roundabout and the B&Q roundabout. They are also being shoved onto footpaths down the hill past Rahoon cemetery because motorists are not maintaining the 1.5m clearance for cyclists.
Shane Foran, chairman of the Galway Cycling Campaign, is urging Galway City Council to change cycle lanes into hard shoulders in a bid to entice motorists to obey the rules of the road more comprehensively.
While gardaí in Galway appear to have been reluctant to fine motorists who drive illegally in cycle lanes, they regularly target drivers who travel in the hard shoulders to gain a few metres in peak hour traffic.
The lobby group is also urging a change in the law to allow cyclists to overtake cars on the footpath side of the road. This is currently illegal but is causing a massive headache for people on bikes as they do not have the speed to overtake cars by crossing over into the oncoming traffic lane.
Roundabouts have become particularly hazardous for Galway cyclists.“To negotiate a roundabout, a cyclist has to be in the same traffic flow for entering or exiting, yet motorists are trying to overtake them by racing past. They are only delayed by a few seconds if they allow the cyclist to go in front. We’d appeal to motorists to give cyclists the space to get on and off the roundabout safely,” Mr Foran said.
The campaign is pushing for changes in the next City Development Plan, which is currently under review.
They want the council to install raised pedestrian crossings at roundabouts to ensure motorists slow down before they go onto a roundabout. They are also campaigning for decreased speed limits of 30kph in housing estates and near schools and colleges.
In addition they want a clause in the plan which says that cyclists who travel the wrong way up a one-way street will not be penalised. Mr Foran said this change was agreed to in the talks leading up to the last city development plan but was not included in the final version of the printed document.
“It’s very common in Germany, Holland and Belgium for cyclists to cycle against the traffic on a one-way street. Provided they do so in a considerate and respectful manner, there is no particular safety issue.
With people tightening their belts coupled with the usual traffic jams, more Galwegians are taking to bikes than ever before. The most recent data comes from the census which showed the number of commuters who travelled to work by bike had increased by 51% between 2002 and 2006. The same report found that 4.4% of commuters to the city travelled by bike, which is the highest percentage of any city in the country.