THE USE of bicycles in Dublin is being held back by the perception that cycling in the city is unsafe, according to research from Trinity College Dublin.
A survey of almost 2,000 regular cyclists found that almost two-thirds thought bus, taxi and car drivers had a reckless attitude to cyclists and about half of those respondents thought drivers were “always reckless”.
The study, led by Anneka Lawson of the TCD school of engineering, found the behaviour of other road users had more effect on cyclists’ perception of their safety than the quality of cycling infrastructure.
Regular, confident cyclists preferred using the road instead of segregated lanes, the study said. Almost 80 per cent of respondents said the presence of pedestrians in lanes which were off-road or combined with footpaths were likely to cause accidents.
Just over 80 per cent said poor road conditions and poorly maintained on-road cycle lanes affected safety. Respondents cited lanes which ended abruptly, cars parked in cycle lanes and broken road surfaces as increasing the dangers of cycling. Almost one-third said they would alter their route to avoid poor road surfaces and a similar number said they avoided routes with high speed limits.
Cyclists under 25 were more likely to see cycling as dangerous. This, the study said, was a cause for concern as these cyclists were the group most likely to contribute to the growth of cycling.
Dublin cyclists had a comparatively high rate of use of safety accessories, the survey found.
Almost 54 per cent claimed to wear a helmet, and 88 per cent said they use lights or reflectors at night. In Boston, a survey found 31.5 per cent of cyclists wore helmets, while in Paris the number was 2.2 per cent. In Boston, 14.8 per cent of cyclists used lights and in Paris 46.8 per cent did.
In Dublin, the figure for those who admitted breaking the rules of the road was high, especially among more experienced cyclists. Overall, 87.5 per cent of those surveyed admitted breaking the rules.
The study recommends that the National Roads Authority and councils concentrate on improving the quality of on-road cycling lanes and the road surface instead of building off-road cycle lanes. It also recommends policymakers encourage “better cyclist-driver co-operation” to help combat Dublin’s “road-rage problems”.