Monday, 14 October 2013

Galway's leaders need to break bread and talk!

The way both Galway City and County Councils react to cars serves as a metaphor for much that is wrong with the modern world. They say it’s integrated but it’s dislocated. They tell us it’s coordinated yet it’s bewildering. It’s distracting and unnerving and maddening and baffling.

Nothing works better than a bit of coordinated town planning, and that’s what we’ve got right now: nothing. Galway has so many plans for its county town’s traffic I’m surprised we’re not all driving into each other head on.

They tell us they’re getting rid of all the roundabouts on Galway’s Ring Road to install a massive chain of intelligent traffic lights that can sense the volumes of traffic at any given time, who you’re talking to on your car phone, what you had for lunch and why most of it is smeared all over your fave pink skirt.

Then they fail to count the number of exits on one of the roundabouts and the whole scheme rear-ends itself. Even if it hadn’t, nobody seemed to notice the effect of the roundabout on Prospect Hill, which would have screwed up the ring road plans anyway.

I’ve given up driving the Ring Road. Red light after red light, it gnaws at my soul.

Yesterday I actually saw a bus using the bus lane down the Westside. I was so shocked I nearly drove into the car in front, which would've caused an almighty tailback, because there’s only one lane of traffic each side of the road.

For years we watched, waited, put up with piles of rubbish, contra-flows, road closures and the loss of a swathe of St Michael’s green playing fields. After enough time and heavy duty construction to knock up a pyramid or two, we ended up with exactly the same amount of space in which to drive our cars, a few dead trees, and a bus lane, which in itself would be a wondrous thing, were there plentiful buses using it.

Right now, all over the world, there are those who want to rid society of cars and those who want to make it easier to drive them everywhere. In Galway City the sides are drawn up clearly. 
Trouble is, none of the city’s leaders knows or cares what other parties are saying or doing. 

Business leaders are obviously eager to make the city more car-friendly. This colyoom has oft pleaded over the years for an extension to the two-hour limit on Galway’s Pay and Display parking. It’s an insult to a great city. If the city were a date, you’d have just enough time for a sip of your aperitif at the bar before dinner. 

Meanwhile the Galway Chamber and the Galway City Business Association alongside the Galway Retailers for Profit and the Galway Local Businesses For Local Galway Businesses and Local Councilors Who Own Local Galway Businesses For Local Businesses have strewn a range of pretty candy proposals in front of our gullible public eyes, tempting us with a wide range of well, not quite fun fresh parking innovations that will boost the footfall on Shop Street. 

They want park by text; free parking in November and January between 10 am and midday, and they’ll come round your place after tea, do the dishes, hoover round about a bit and plump up your pillows.

They need to stop people driving to Athlone’s mall heaven. I love Galway, so I’m with them.

Also, I’m completely against them, because as I said, this is confusing and convoluted, tortuous and perplexing. You see, Galway’s City Manager, Brendan McGrath, has said he dreams of a car-free city, and doesn’t that sound simply wonderful? It might, if it was in any way feasible. As things stand, it’s as idealistically inviting as it is delightfully absurd.

He wants to extend pedestrianised streets, boost bus networks and build a light rail system. 
Even if that were to happen, which would be a marvelous achievement, it would serve little purpose. You see, Mr. Manager, Galway City is a County town. We all travel in and out of town all the time. If you live in Furbo, Corundulla or Moycullen, you can’t rely on 2 or 3 buses a day that might or might not stop because they’re too full.

I’m a great fan of public transport and I hate cars (even though I have to use one) and parking in town is a mare, so I’m not stomping on other people’s ideas for fun here. I’m in favour of cheap parking and I’d love to see Galway's public transport system serve its own satellite towns a hundred times better, but more than anything, I think everyone needs to sit at the same table, break bread and talk to each other.

How can we the people profit, if half our leaders are fighting for cheap parking to encourage more cars into town, while others are dreaming of banning cars and introducing a congestion fee? Yes, I did just say ‘congestion fee’ in relation to Galway City.

Another plan, admittedly for the future, but nonetheless laden with delusions of grandeur. Last time I was in London I had to catch a mainline train from Waterloo to an outer suburb. Dashing from the tube, I wondered how many trains there might be on that route each day.
Oh pooper. I’d just missed one. Aha, here’s a digital timetable, so when’s the next train?

Every three minutes.
Wow. That’s a city in which you can have a congestion charge. London offers viable alternatives to the car, but any notion of further punishing punters for driving to Galway City is beyond bananas.
Galwegians are fed up with all your half-baked unworkable frustrating and incompetent ideas. 

Now it’s time for you all to sit down and talk to each other with the aim of coming up with one integrated idea that works, instead of this constant babble of ill-thought out incomprehensible indefensible nonsense.

 ©Charlie Adley

No comments: