Dubliners willing to sacrifice car space for safer cycling facilities, research finds

Those from lower income households least likely to cycle, despite being less likely to own a car

Up to 350,000 Dubliners could reach O'Connell Bridge in less than 25 minutes by bicycle according to new research from the National Transport Authority and cycling organisation Sustrans.

More than 60,000 return cycle trips are made daily in Dublin by people who could have used a car, according to the Bike Life report which includes a survey of 1,100 Dublin residents. The survey was conducted face-to-face by the independent market research company Behaviour & Attitudes.

However, many more people said they would use a bike in Dublin if cycling infrastructure was improved.

Nearly a quarter of adults cycle at least once a week in Dublin including 11 per cent who cycle five days a week or more, while 21 per cent of adults don’t currently cycle but would like to. Men cycle more than women with 35 per cent of men cycling at least once a week compared to 14 per cent of women.

The survey showed a high degree of willingness to sacrifice space for cars on roads to provide safer cycling facilities. Just under 70 per cent said more cycle tracks along roads, physically separated from traffic and pedestrians would encourage them to cycle more. An even higher number, 84 per cent, supported building more of these segregated lanes, even when this would mean less room for other road traffic.

Dublin City Council is in the process of building segregated cycle lanes on the Liffey quays, and installing barriers on cyclelanes across the city to prevent motorists from encroaching on cycle space.

Dubliners were keen to see cycling provision improved not only in the city centre, but in their local suburbs or urban villages. More than 80 per cent said space should be increased for people socialising, cycling and walking on their local main street and 72 per cent said speed limits should be reduced on local roads. Just under 80 per cent said more cycling would make their area a better place to live and work and almost 60 per cent said streets outside local schools should be closed to cars during drop off and pick-up times. Just over 60 per cent said there were too many people driving in their neighbourhood.

More Dubliners would like to like to see increased Government spending on cycling (75 per cent), public transport (71 per cent) and walking (61 per cent), than on driving (34 per cent).

Dubliners from lower income households were the least likely to cycle, despite being less likely to own a car.

Of those in semi-skilled or unskilled manual occupations, homemakers and people not in employment, 32 per cent don’t have a van or car compared to 8 per cent in managerial or professional jobs.

However, more than 80 per cent in the socio-economic groups least likely to own a car never cycle.

One fifth of Dubliners in those groups said they would like to start cycling. When asked why they didn’t cycle, 35 per cent said they were concerned about safety, 26 per cent said they were not confident cycling, and 22 per cent said cycling was “not for people like me”.

The report noted that “being a ‘cyclist’ can be associated with a certain type of person and characteristics”. It said cycling had potential to reduce social and economic exclusion and could help many residents access employment, healthcare and everyday services, “but only if we make cycling attractive, safe and easy for everyone”.