N6 Road Route is the death knell for Developing a Sustainable Transport Infrastructure for Galway city
A few months ago I wrote an article, that with later additions by other visionary community activists, became the first public announcement from a new NGO formed to help reverse an outdated car-centric philosophy that wants to build a new roadway that will only exacerbate the transport problems of Galway city and which goes against the trust of modern progressive urban planning.
The article appeared in the Galway City Tribune newspaper.
Hopefully once the campaign season starts in September, I can get active on this issue as due to a heavy work schedule in Ireland, Germany and South Africa, as well as family committments, I have had to take a step back.
A number of well known community and environmental activists in Galway city are coming together to form a new alliance to promote a ‘Future Cities’ concept based on a green ethos, smart technologies, a sustainable transport hierarchy and is neighbourhood centric which they say is the “antithesis of the outdated policies of the proposed N6 routes and the original bypass route”.
The group comprises veteran local community, environmental, cycling, educational and resident activists. According to Brendan Smith one of the members of ‘Future Cities’, “Across the developed world, cities are constructing new transport infrastructures prioritising public transport, cycling and walking. Copenhagen, Seattle, London, Melbourne, New York, Seville and Berlin are humanising their urban environments by introducing woodlands, gardens, recreational parks and a city-wide 24/7 cycling, walking and public bus or train systems. Old inner city areas that were once soulless concrete jungles of offices denuded of the sounds of families and residents are springing back to life as living vibrant communities. Whereas for Galway city, transport officialdom is proposing to build motorways that will decimate third level colleges, neighbourhoods, sports fields, key wildlife habitats, farmlands and in the process only exacerbate the transport problems leading to further urban sprawl and a city where the car takes priority over more environmentally people-based modes.
The Galway City Transport Project has nothing to do with solving our urban transport crisis but rather is based on promoting an uneconomical motorway connecting Connemara to east Galway that current data clearly shows represents only 10% of the present city traffic flow. As we were conned in the past by the official by-line that roundabouts facilitate pedestrian flow, so we are being sold yet another untruth with the proposal that a further car-based motorway will be the answer to our present chaos.
If Galway city is to have a sustainable future, the authorities should immediately bin a policy based on a discredited private car based transportation model that represents a failed 20th century system. Instead we should use the €750 millions that we are told is available to construct a hierarchical transport model based on prioritizing pedestrians, cyclists and public transport users as was stated in the Galway City Development Strategy 2002-2012 but unfortunately never implemented.
Prioritizing private cars and motorways ignores the reality of the inevitable fossil fuel crisis as these energy sources dry up, ignores our international obligations to lower greenhouse gas emissions, poisons our air with toxins, covers much needed parks and woodlands with tarmac and concrete, and dramatically increases the noise levels that collectively impact negatively on the health of neighbourhoods and of the individual citizen.
Within our third level colleges and local industry we have the engineering and science expertise to use for instance smart technologies to help create a Living City that would attract inward investment, improve people’s quality of life, expand green zones and provide us with a template for other urban centres to emulate.