‘You won’t see us cycling now, but you will,’ was the message from a large group of Galway mums who gathered at the prom last Friday to support the Salthill Cycleway.
The group met to demonstrate that there are many people who would, if given the opportunity, cycle the coast road. “We just got a message earlier in the week to see if people could make it and here we are!” said Eibhlín Seoighthe, who lives in Shantalla.
“Having an involvement of busy people who have bothered to come here shows something safe. There are so many of us who will use the Salthill Cycleway on a regular basis. We’re not as committed to ourselves as we are to our children,” said Neasa Bheilbigh, who lives in Knocknacarra. “We want to be part of building a better, cleaner and safer city for them.”
These folks all cycle in Galway but very few of these experienced cyclists attempt to travel along the prom by bike.
“Right now I don’t bike this road and I certainly wouldn’t cycle it with my kids,” said Gráinne Faller, a Salthill resident. “We will use the Salthill Cycleway all the time, for school trips, for grocery stores, to go into town. It would change so much for us as a family. I think some people think the cycle path is for the few people currently riding along the coast road. It really isn’t, it’s for all the people who don’t ride bikes until it’s safe.”
The group made it a point to commend the councilors who backed the temporary 17-1 cycle lane in a vote ahead of Christmas. Census data shows that Salthill has one of the highest cycling participation rates in the country, closely followed by Taylor’s Hill and Claddagh.
Streets should be full of children
“The streets of Galway should and could be teeming with children every morning cycling, scootering or walking to school,” said Ms Ni Bheilbigh. “We must prioritize the health and future of our children by providing safe, sustainable alternatives. I’m just so grateful that the councilors are agreeing to this. The bike lane will change the way we get around.”
The group wanted to emphasize that every family that uses bikes is another car that stays at home. Many Galway residents will be familiar with the heavy traffic during school hours.
“There are 17 schools within a mile of the Salthill Cycleway. I would definitely appreciate leaving the car at home for our school run,” says Ms. Faller. “I think we’re going to see all sorts of benefits that we haven’t even thought of. I know schools have noticed real benefits for kids who ride bikes in terms of mood and focus.”
A common concern among the mums in the group was the climate crisis and the need for Galway to be part of the change for the better that is taking place across the world.
“It is a real and present threat to our children’s future. I am so glad that Galway City Council is taking this step. Galway needs to allow people to leave their cars at home and that is a fantastic first step,” said Ms Seoighthe. “I think it makes a lot of sense that we can try it out first. A six-month temporary cycle path is the best way to see what’s working and what problems you’re having. We can then revise and implement something that works for everyone. This will really pay off for the people of Galway.”