Cllr McNelis says the number of abandoned bikes in Galway City is “embarrassing”

Galway City Council said it has been unable to remove the “embarrassing” number of abandoned bikes around the city, due to Covid.

Bikes are removed from around the city upon reaching certain criteria; beyond use, seized chains, flat tyres, brakes and gears not working. They are also monitored over a four-week period to see if they are being moved.

Despite a system for recycling bikes in place, many dilapidated bikes remain around the city in prominent locations such as Eyre Square, Millstreet and the NUIG’s campus.

Many of these bikes are beyond salvageable due to deterioration from weather. Some are also missing full wheels.

The community warden section of Galway City Council then remove these abandoned bikes from the city under the Waste Management Act.

In 2020 GCC implemented a recycling system through charity partners An Mheithal Rothar who have so far repurposed over 100 abandoned bikes back into the community.

A spokesperson for the council acknowledged the lack of removals recently and offered assurances that there will be a removal in the future.

“In recent times, due to COVID in particular, no removals have occurred. However, there are plans in place for a removal in the not-too-distant future,” he said.

A selection of abandoned bikes scattered around Galway City. Video Courtesy of Robert Kindregan.

Dublin City Council have been successfully tagging bikes they believe to be abandoned and removing them after two weeks if unclaimed, 400 bikes were removed in 2019 alone.

Labour Councillor Niall McNelis has called for similar efficiency in Galway and has labeled the number of bikes abandoned as “embarrassing”.

“Cycling is a big thing in Galway at the moment between cycleways and everything, its’ all about resources from the council but that is something that I would like to see done; that the bikes would be tagged, we need to address the situation. I will be at the JPC (Joint Policing Committee) in March, and will be raising this issue.”

Cllr McNelis also said there are many reasons behind why this is happening in Galway:

“Pre Covid what you’d get was someone would rob a bike, cycle home, and then dump it. We have a lot of transient workers here in Galway, lots of students.”

“There’s a big culture of drinking in this city and there’s always going to be an idiot that thinks it’s a good idea to beat up a shop window or shutter door and it’s the same thing with a bicycle they might just see it and decide to destroy it.”

Cathy Coote from An Mheithal Rothar said the recycling process for abandoned bikes must happen quickly to have the best chance of saving the bike, Galway’s weather also adds a level urgency.

“The big challenge we have is not so much getting a hold of them [abandoned bikes] but getting a hold of them in time before they rust too much to be salvageable. You know if it’s outside in Galway it’s probably the worst place in Ireland to leave a bike,” she said.

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