Check against Delivery
1 May 2009
Ladies and Gentlemen,
It is a great pleasure to be here today, to have the opportunity to see some of the progress that Galway City Council is making in the development of bus priority measures in the City. The progress we are seeing, exemplified by the new outbound bus lane we are opening today on the Dublin Road, is part of the ongoing process of implementing the Galway Bus Strategy, and I am very happy that my Department was in a position to provide the funding for the development of the Strategy.
The new outbound bus lane here has been constructed by the City Council with funding from my Department. The scheme has involved the construction of a dedicated lane for buses and cyclists, 750 metres in length, running outbound from Moneenageisha Cross to Renmore Road junction on the Dublin Road. Significant upgrades of pedestrian crossing and bus stop facilities were also carried out, while a number of key public areas were landscaped.
The new outbound bus lane will complement the existing sections of inbound bus lane on the Dublin Road. I understand that the City Council has calculated that time-savings for buses as a result of the new bus lane will be between 10 and 15 minutes per bus during peak hours. This will represent a substantial daily benefit to the traveling public.
I am particularly pleased to see the emphasis placed on improving facilities for cyclists in this new development. Recently, I launched Ireland’s first ever National Cycling Policy Framework. In this document, I have set ambitious targets for cycling in Ireland, including the goal of raising cycling’s share of the travel market from 2% to 10%. Cycling is healthier; it is more environmentally friendly; it is sustainable.
The new cycling facilities here are the kind of measures we need if we are to make cycling the safe and attractive mode of transport it should be. The development we are opening today will provide significant improvements for cyclists, as well for public transport, and indeed also for pedestrians. This has been achieved through the redistribution of existing road space and the provision of new facilities. In order to improve cyclist safety, the works also include the widening of the outbound traffic lane from Renmore Road junction to the Skerritt Roundabout, a distance of 700 metres. This is particularly important given the location of the Galway Mayo Institute of Technology, with a large student population, at the Skerrit Roundabout.
The improvements we see here in bus priority, in cycle facilities and in pedestrian facilities are aimed at encouraging more people to choose sustainable means of transport over the private car.
Some people used think progress had to be ugly. Far from it. Feature landscaping and removal of overhead ESB and telecom lines as part of the new works here have served to enhance the visual amenity of the public realm. We want our transport network to be an attractive environment as well as a safe and efficient one.
Bus priority measures will deliver freer and better movement of buses into and through the City Centre, including more reliable journey times and more dependable arrival and departure times. This will make Galway City an easier City to get around and a more attractive place for residents, workers, shoppers and visitors to the City. This in turn will help Galway to grow and prosper, and to lead the way for growth in the region, as we have envisaged in the National Spatial Strategy.
I look forward to the success of these new bus and cycle facilities, and I wish Galway City Council and the people of Galway every success in the future.