By Darragh Nolan
A protest calling for improved road safety took place at the Skerritt Roundabout on Old Dublin Road.
On 17 January a man was injured after colliding with a lorry while cycling near the roundabout located between the Atlantic Technological University and the Garda Western Region Headquarters.
“Horrifically dangerous” design
The Sundays4Safety protests have been taking place weekly in Salthill but this ‘flash’ protest on the east side of the city was prompted by the accident.
Sundays4Safety organiser Gráinne Faller said the man was lucky not to have been killed and the accident “was almost designed into the road.”
“You have multiple lanes of traffic merging onto a roundabout. It’s horrifically dangerous for anyone outside of a car.
“There’s also ATU here, a university, and there’s no way across the road. You’re crossing four lanes of traffic. This design is repeated throughout the city over and over again, and Sundays4Safety is about calling for safer streets for people who wheel, walk and cycle.”
Ms Faller said that a short-term solution should be implemented before permanent changes are made to the roads in the area.
“This design should be made safer by reducing the number of lanes of traffic coming onto this roundabout,” she said.
“Why not do that for two years rather than making safety wait for two years?”
Ms Faller said it “speaks volumes” that the Garda HQ building, which was opened in 2018, is not “futureproofed” to allow for improved accessibility. The building is situated close to the existing road.
“People’s safety, comfort and accessibility need to be built into the decision making process in Galway and it’s very, very clear from all of this that they aren’t even factoring in when it comes to designing roads,” she said.
Speaking at the protest, Galway City Councillor Niall Murphy said plans are in motion to change the road layout at the Skerritt Roundabout.
“The changes are proposed and out for consultation. The BusConnects system would take you from the Huntsman Inn to the [Galway] Clinic and it’s going to be a full bus lane and full bike lane on both sides for 4km.
“It means the buses and the bikes don’t have to mix and the buses and cars don’t have to mix. To get that BusConnects plan done it needs public support so people need to make their voices heard if they want this infrastructure,” he said.
The Green Party councillor said he uses the route himself and noted that it is a difficult road to navigate for cyclists.
“I’m a city west councillor so this isn’t my part of town, but my day job is in Oranmore. So, I cycle this route regularly. Being passed by a bus or a truck [near the roundabout] is absolutely terrifying.”
Cllr Murphy added that lowering speed limits across Galway will make the city safer generally but that it didn’t apply to this roundabout.