Investment in cycling lanes has not halted the decline of cycling in Dublin. That was the finding of the latest report from the Dublin Transport Office (DTO).
The report entitled A Platform for Change, estimated that there are 3,200 cyclists in the capital. This represents a fall of one third from when the last study was conducted in 2002.
According to the DTO this figure could have been much worse. In other cities where there was not the same emphasis on spending on cycling infrastructure in the same period the reduction was even more dramatic. The decline in Limerick in that time was found to be a whopping 57%.
One of the report’s objectives was to find out why motorists were reluctant to cycle. The main reason cited was the perceived danger of cycling on congested roads. The second was laziness and the third excuse for staying behind the wheel was Dublin’s poor weather.
The report also sought to profile those who were cycling. It found that it was mainly a male activity. The age group of those most likely to engage in cycling was between 18 and 35. Traditionally cycling has been considered the poor man’s transport but the report found that the majority of cyclists came from the same socioeconomic background as motorists.
The study also listed a number of initiatives that could be taken to encourage cycling. It called for an integrated approach that would link the city’s cycling strategy into other infrastructural initiatives that were being taken to reduce traffic volumes. It favoured the reduction of the speed limit. It proposed building more high quality cycling routes equipped with their own cycling signals and a marketing campaign to encourage cycling by schoolchildren. Such a campaign it said should be rolled out in conjunction with the expansion of the city’s safe cycling route infrastructural project.
The DTO study also found that there was considerable goodwill amongst drivers towards making the city more cycling friendly. It recorded that most motorists were in favour of giving cyclists greater priority in the city centre, even if it made things more difficult for car use.
By way of conclusion the report highlighted the advantages that could accrue to Dublin if more people took to the bike. Apart from helping to improve the health of commuters and reducing congestion, cycling was found to act as a useful crime prevention measure, as it led to more eyes being on the street. It had an economic benefit by making the capital more attractive to tourists, increasing the effectiveness of public transport and reducing the need to expensive build new roads.