Cycling in Dublin: The next stage

The European Cycling Federation will hold its agm in Dublin next week. The number of cyclists in the capital has doubled in 10 years, but the city has a long way to go before it can encourage nervous commuters to get on their bikes

Sat, Apr 19, 2014, 06:18

To undertake all the cycling projects the council has planned during that period, from installing new lanes, to upgrading old ones, would cost some €70 million up to 2020. It sounds like a lot, but Phillips points out it is significantly less than the cost of a new Luas line. The existing Luas lines cater for about 6 per cent of commuters., the national cycling lobby group that is hosting the federation’s agm, is supportive of much of what the council is doing, but says more ambitious cycling targets are needed for Dublin.

“The 10 per cent target is a national target, but to achieve that nationally you need to be achieving a much higher mode share in the cities, and in Dublin you would like to see it at 20 per cent, maybe 25 per cent,” says its spokesman, Damien O’ Tuama.

The figure is not an outlandish aspiration according to Colm Ryder, the secretary of the Dublin Cycling Campaign, who says studies of the city show cyclists represent 15 per cent of daily traffic on Dame Street.

The growth in cycling numbers is down to a “clatter of things”, says O’Tuama, from the success of the Dublinbikes scheme to the growing international popularity of sports and leisure cycling. But to sustain and build upon this popularity requires more effort at the top.

Regenerating cycling
“Any type of serious social change requires political leadership and the willingness to dedicate resources, human and financial, to regenerating a cycling culture.”

These efforts are not just the responsibility of one local authority but of several agencies and Government departments, says O’Tuama.

“The different forces in transport, public health and tourism need to be behind this. It’s only recently health officials have come to the realisation that we are becoming an obesogenic society, but they haven’t yet twigged the importance of cycling in combating that. In Seville, doctors are beginning to prescribe cycling.”

Ryder points out the importance of environmental concerns in promoting cycling. “We have to bring down emissions from commuting and increasing cyclists is an obvious way of doing that.”

One of the lobby groups’ principal jobs is to ensure that the impressive policies and plans devised are implemented.

“We would really like to see the proposed Liffey route put in place,” Ryder says. This plan would see a full traffic lane on the north quays given over to cyclists.

And if he’s compiling a wish list, O’Tuama would like to see a “space-age bike park” under Busáras or Heuston station, so that people would feel comfortable about leaving their bikes in the city. Bike theft is high in Dublin , with about 4,000 reported incidents a year, but crime-victim surveys suggest the rates of theft are more in the region of 25,000 bicycles a year.

Echoing Phillips’s point about how even a white line makes a difference to cycle safety, O’Tuama says he would like to see a “giant bicycle logo” painted on streets to make drivers aware that they are also used by cyclists. He would also like to see cycling training, not just in schools, but for everyone, including pedestrians, cyclists and drivers.

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