Cyclists set to outnumber Luas commuters

European Cyclists Federation annual conference hears of ambitious new cycle plans for Dublin

Colm Ryder secretary Dublin Cycling Campaign with Minister Brian Hayes TD. Photograph: Brenda Fitzsimons / The Irish Times

Colm Ryder secretary Dublin Cycling Campaign with Minister Brian Hayes TD. Photograph: Brenda Fitzsimons / The Irish Times

Fri, Apr 25, 2014, 07:19

Dublin is rediscovering its love of the bicycle, with the number of people travelling into the capital by bike set to exceed those using the Luas, the European Cyclists Federation annual conference has been told.

The four-day conference at Dublin’s Wood Quay Venue was also told Ireland could emulate the Czech Republic which has recently received more than €100 million from the EU to develop of cycleways.

The conference heard about National Transport Authority plans to increase the Greater Dublin region’s cycle network five-fold, to 2,840km by 2021 – with the ambition that by then the number of cyclists would match those on buses.

The cycle network outlined in the plan represents a trebling of the existing network in urban areas from 500km to 1,485km, and more than 1,300km of new connections between towns in the rural parts of Greater Dublin.

In all, a network of 2,840km is envisaged compared to today’s 500km. The planned network will consist of primary and secondary routes as well as “greenways” through parks and along waterways, including a Liffey cycle route.

Joe Seymour of consultants Aecom said the 2013 “canal cordon count” of commuters coming into the city across the Grand and Royal canals between 7am and 10am showed that 10,835 people travelled by Luas and 9,061 were on bicycles.

He said the number of cyclists had doubled since 2006 and “would have overtaken the Luas already” if it were not for tram extensions to Cherrywood and to Saggart.

He predicted the number of cyclists would “soon” overtake Luas users and, while he recognised that surpassing the 56,177 people who take the bus was ambitious, “without ambition we are nothing”.

Mr Seymour said attitudes among the public and institutions were coming around to cycling and he cited a situation in Blackrock, Co Dublin, where gardaí used to stop cyclists travelling in a counter-flow along a one-way street, forcing them on to the dual carriageway.

Recently, he said, the council formalised the counter-flow with a cycle lane.

He said he had no doubt that, with the cycle plan for the Greater Dublin area, cycling was set to grow even more rapidly over the next seven years.