The Galway traffic-flow problems are the stuff of legend. Every year for the past few years, there have been different plans implemented to sort out the various issues. New road layouts, roundabouts, lights. Nothing seems to work. There is a need for new or different thinking!
The Urban Traffic Control Centre aims to sort the congestion. It sounds like a good idea. An operator at a bank of CCTV monitors changing lights in real time has a lot going for it but will fail at non-signal junctions, unless there are traffic police or wardens to direct.
Feet on the Street
Wardens trained in directing traffic and posted at peak times around the city would perhaps help in reducing congestion. It would free up additional Gardaí who could re-focus their efforts on fighting crime and keeping the peace. It would certainly reduce unemployment. It could even get some moderately-disabled people back to work.
A novel idea
An interesting idea floated recently is the concept of Naked Streets. The system is currently on trial in New York and London and is based on the idea that the regulation designed to help traffic flow can clog an area and cause traffic problems itself. So, let everyone go everywhere (within reason) in the hope that traffic problems sort themselves out. A most liberal approach to the problem!
Reading the current issue of GQ magazine, I came across an article on Naked Streets by Alice Rawsthorn, where she details how the idea was devised and refined by Dutchman, Hans Monderman. First tried in Drachten, it has been taken on in three New York boroughs. It might just work here in Galway.
The benefits of solving the problem
Easing the stress for a customer travelling to a retail premises (and away again) can only make city shopping a more pleasurable experience again. Getting deliveries in and out of the city more efficiently would also have its part to play, though very little can be done with that as it stands.
Tourism would benefit. With Galway 2020 fast approaching, sorting out congestion would be give a major boost, making it easier to get around, adding to the tourist experience and enjoyment of our city for the better.
Resident consultations, with input from pedestrians, could solve issues such as the furore over the one way system in Lough Atalia. As a pedestrian, I found it fantastic, especially crossing the street. I always approach that junction with extra caution! During the period of the one-way system it was blissful, and safe. However, efforts to keep that system were thwarted by local residents who felt they were not consulted. Consultation is key to compromise and solving the problems of Galway’s traffic congestion.
Thinking outside the box
Staggering the school runs and factory start and finish times would help a great deal.
Introduction of a light rail system akin to the LUAS would be a great idea, although it would cause massive issues in construction and possibly make matters worse for an extended period of time. This has been proposed and met with as much opposition as support.
A ferry link to North Clare for goods and possibly car traffic might also help? For private passengers, if cheap enough, a ferry from Salthill to Oranmore would certainly provide a scenic and unusual transport option. By-passing the congestion of the roads for walkers and cyclists its something worth looking into.
A DART system on raised piles would be easy to integrate into the city, and we have enough brains in NUIG, GMIT and the other colleges in town to have a think about how that could be implemented.
Over to You
While moonlighting as a writer with the Galway Eye, among other publications, I make my living at security. So I approach this from a taxpayer’s and road-user’s point of view. I am not an engineer. Maybe we should invite submissions from some of our talented civil engineering students on how to ease traffic flow in and around the city? We might just get the seeds of a solution!