Carlow footpaths are too narrow in the age of Covid-19, say cycling campaigners.
The Carlow Cycling Campaign has written a letter to local representatives calling on the Council to urgently address the need to improve Carlow Town "for pedestrians and cyclists in the light of the Covid-19 crisis and social distancing".
The letter states:
The most basic requirement of any town is that its citizens can move around freely and safely. We have an urgent need to reallocate space to our citizens so they can socially distance in our town.
Removing on street parking to widen footpaths, designating streets as one-way for motor traffic, automating pedestrian buttons at traffic lights and reducing speed limits are the actions that we feel are appropriate.
These actions are being taken by Councils, cities and local authorities around the world to provide safe movement for everyone, not just those who own cars.
To illustrate what is required, I’m going to use the three crossings for the River Barrow in Carlow town as representative examples for inadequate spacing that is experienced by pedestrians and cyclists in our town.
Crossing 1 is the Graiguecullen Bridge. This is over 8m wide and has motor traffic running both ways on it. Over 6m of this is dedicated to motor traffic.
It has two footpaths, the South path is less than 0.8m wide in places and the other has a width of 1.4m. This is simply not safe, pre coronavirus or post coronavirus.
Meeting anyone on the path requires stepping onto traffic. It assumes that every person crossing that bridge is able bodied.
You cannot hold the hand of your child while you walk across the main bridge in our town.
There is no provision for cycling on Graiguecullen bridge. According to the most recent census data, there are roughly 800 households in Graiguecullen who deserve safe access to town.
Crossing 2 is the Pedestrian Bridge from the Town Park. It's 2m wide, which does not allow for social distancing. If you are a mother with a buggy, or a person in a wheelchair you cannot squeeze by people maximising the distance between you. This is not good enough.
Crossing 3 is the N80. It has 2.3m wide footpaths, and 1.6m wide unprotected cycle lanes that are only used by the most experienced of cyclists.
A 2.3m path is not wide enough to accommodate social distancing. Inexperienced and young cyclists will cycle on the path as the cycle paths are not segregated and the road is used by HGVs. This is not good enough.
We in Carlow Cycling Campaign are asking that the Council provide cycle lanes and safe footpaths on Graiguecullen Bridge by making it one way to vehicular traffic.
We are asking that the bridge in the park is opened 24 hours a day. We ask for protection on our cycle lanes, especially those that are designated alongside HGVs. We ask that the speed limit in Carlow town be instantly lowered to 30kph.
We fully understand the financial pressures that the Council are experiencing, but these measures we are asking for are for the basic safety of everyone, not just motorists.
These measures can be achieved using bollards, planters, cones or orcas to give people the space to breathe safely in our town.