A coalition of businesses, community groups and individuals in Galway has called on the city council to re-allocate road space for cycling and walking during the Covid-19 pandemic.

In an open letter to the City Manager, the Galway Cycling Campaign said social distancing requirements can be best facilitated by changes to the local environment in the coming months.

It is calling for more public spaces to be given over to cyclists and walkers, as well as seeking a reduction of the speed limit in urban areas to 30km/h.

Campaigners argue that the installation of temporary cycle lanes, footpath widening and temporarily closing some roads to motor traffic would encourage exercise, reduce pollution and facilitate the increasing numbers using two-wheeled transport in recent weeks.

Almost 200 individuals and organisations have co-signed the letter, which they hope can be discussed at a council transport committee meeting later this month.

Restaurant owners say that providing more space for footpaths would allow them to serve customers outside in the coming months.

Regular commuters argue that the introduction of dedicated cycle lanes would boost bike traffic on routes to the city centre, while health professionals point to the benefits that regular exercise can bring about.

The Galway Cycling Campaign said the behavioural changes that have arisen as a result of the Covid-19 restrictions present a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to trial low-cost solutions for public spaces in the city.

The organisation's chairperson Kevin Jennings said he hoped the council would take an ambitious approach to see what changes it could facilitate.

The call has been backed by local political representatives, Galway Chamber, the Irish Heart Foundation and the Irish Cancer Society.