Dublinbikes first day

2009: A good year for cycling in Ireland?

Dublinbikes first day
Cycling is in fashion, even in Ireland. There has been a number of  signs of continued growth in cycling here this year. The phrase “On your bike!” started to be sicking. Sub editors showed they never read newspapers, with ‘on your bike’ appearing in headlines again and again on some of the many cycling articles this year, even on an Irish Times editorial.

With the Greens in Government it may come as a surprise that the most high-profile person pushing cycling in the last year has been a  Fianna Fail minister — Minister for Transport, Noel Dempsey. He stared the year by talking about car dependency, he said “That kind of car dependency would lead to a loss of competitiveness, massive rises in emissions, and growing obesity in children. We just cannot go on like that.”

Dempsey went on to launch a framework for the first Irish Government cycle policy document, made into policy after the Green Party and Fianna Fail agreed on a new programme for Government. He also put money where his mouth was by funding cycling projects, and getting his department to look into pro-cycling changes to road traffic laws. It’s clear that the Greens in power can be helpful for cycling, but Dempsey seems to be convinced the benefits of promoting cycling. And, as an outsider to the green movement, maybe he is in a better position to push pro-cycling measures and reach his target of 10% commuters nationwide cycling by 2020?

But, for now, the most clear signs of cycling increasing could be put down to two things, only one from national Government. While newspapers articles tried to claim otherwise, there’s strong anecdotal evidence on the ground and online of a growing pick up of the cycle-to-work scheme (see below). Meanwhile, Dublin City Council’s on-street bike rental system, DublinBikes, was launched late this year. Its quick success  brushed away scary stories that the bikes would all end up in the river or nobody would use them.

From the good, bad and downright ugly, here’s some of the cycling related news and events from the last year:

FEBRUARY

Council presents plans for 22km cycle route around bay


  • Dublin City Council presents plans to build 22km cycle route around bay, The Irish Times,  Thursday, February 12, 2009
  • The Irish Times reports: “The initial designs for the long-awaited Sutton to Sandycove (S2S) cycleway, which was first proposed in 2002, were shown yesterday to city councillors.”
  • Superseded by a  longer Bray to Balbriggan route in the Renewed Programme for Government, see below.
  • Funding the key city centre section of the route was approved in 2009 and it is currently at planning permission stage of design (see ‘Funding for canal cycle route’ below)
  • Meanwhile, another section along Bull Island is also in design stage.   DCC’s website says: “The Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) was submitted in June 2009 to An Bord Pleanála for Planning Approval. Subject to funding, the project will commence in the summer of 2010.”
  • When the two of these sections are completed, a full section from Howth Head to the City Centre will be formed (see map here).
  • Also see here and here.

First Dublin ghost bike
First ‘ghost bike’ installed in Dublin

  • ‘Ghost bikes’ are out of action bikes painted white as a reminded of dead cyclists. The first is placed along the Grand Canal at Harold’s Cross Bridge. The second is place later in the year on the North Quays at the Ha’penny Bridge.
  • A ghostly reminder of dangers to cyclists, Irish Times, Saturday, February 14, 2009

75% of cyclist killed were hit by turning trucks

  • Cyclists were given extra reason to keep away from the inside of trucks at junctions with Dublin City Council compiling data to show 75 percent of cyclists killed were hit by trucks making left turns.
  • Between 2002 and 2006 there were 11 cyclists killed on Dublin’s roads, eight of which involved left turning trucks.
  • Cyclists should keep back from trucks at junctions even where a cycle lane runs along the inside of the road. Always beware that trucks have large blind spots where drivers cannot see you.
  • As with recent research from the UK points to, crashes where cyclists are fault accounted for small proportion overall.
  • Almost 75% of cyclists killed in Dublin were hit by HGVs turning left, The Irish Times, Wednesday, February 11, 2009

MARCH

Newspaper gets confused about bike to work scheme story

APRIL

Cycling in Dublin up 8% in one year, 30% in five years

  • The canal traffic count in Dublin for 2008, released in April 2009, showed an 8% increase in cycling crossing the canals and entering the city centre in a year. It counts for a 30% increase in five years.
  • Private car use in Dublin city rises, irishtimes.com – Last Updated: Tuesday, April 14, 2009, 16:49

30km/h speed limits in urban areas

  • Dublin City Cycle 2009
    Dublin City Council sets outs plans to reduce the speed limit in the core of the city centre to 30km/h in April. In October councillors voted for the measure and it set to be fully introduced by 31 January 2010
  • Plan to reduce speed limit to 30km/h throughout most of Dublin city centre, The Irish Times, Wednesday, April 15, 2009
  • 30km/h speed limit for Dublin city centre, RTE, Monday, 5 October 2009. Map PDF
  • In July, it was reported Cork was also looking at reducing speed limits to 30km/h, but these plans were at an early stage:  Cork city speed limits may be reduced, The Irish Times, Friday, July 24, 2009
  • In December, The Irish Times reported: “A SENIOR public health doctor has called on local authorities to consider introducing 30km/h speed limit zones in towns and villages in a bid to reduce deaths and injuries from crashes… Dr Declan Bedford, acting director of public health with the HSE and Fellow of the Royal College of Physicians of Ireland, said research from London showed the rationale for lower limits in built up areas was compelling.
  • Call for speed limit reduction, The Irish Times – Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Cycle Framework Policy published, 10% target repeated

MAY

College Green bus gate put in place, then suspended for Christmas

  • College Green "bus gate"
    In May, Dublin City Council voted for the introduction of a bus gate on College Green in Dublin city centre.
  • The plan was heavily scaled back from originally 24-hours to only include rush hours in the morning and evening.
  • When it was introduced, Dublin Bus reported improvement in its services and the city council recorded pedestrian numbers up 6% and cyclists up 34% in the area.
  • Even still, the evening rush hour bus gate was suspended for Christmas after pressure from some city businesses. It is set to be automatically  restated on January 15. Some councillors in favour of the bus gate voted for the temporary suspension because they said they feared otherwise the bus gate would be ended altogether.  Opposition, including a legal challenge, seems to mainly come from those who own or run car parks.
  • Meanwhile, the RPA has repeated that the original plan of a 24-hour bus gate will be needed for traffic management when (and if) Metro North construction gets under
  • Dublin Bus Gate – Let DCC councillors know what you think of it, boards.ie
  • ‘Bus gate’ plans for Dublin city centre to be scaled back, Wednesday, April 22, 2009
  • Dublin city council adopts ‘bus gate’ plan, irishtimes.com – Last Updated: Monday, May 11, 2009, 22:07
  • Council suspends evening bus-gate, irishtimes.com – Last Updated: Monday, November 2, 2009, 21:21

JUNE

National Bike Week

  • The first National Bike Week happened in June with events around the country — see bikeweek.ie

JULY

Dublin city marketing cycling!
€1.2m for Carrigaline cycle network

Schools safe cycling training

First signs of marketing (normal) cycling

AUGUST

Off-road cycling route for Co Mayo

Less room on Intercity trains

  • Railcar
    By the end of the summer nearly all Intercity routes had switched to using new railcars. Less space for bicycles was left with the removal of the guard’s vans on old trains which used accommodate bicycles. Only lockers which can fit one or two bicycles were originally on these new trains,  more spacious two-bay bicycle racks were later retrofitted to many, but not all of the new trains. It is seen as a major problem for cycling tourism.
  • Cyclists’ train travel derailed, The Irish Times – Saturday, August 1, 2009
  • In Ireland, bicycles are currently carried on Intericy services, but not on Dart and Commuter trains, or on Luas trams. Although there are plans to change this, see Cycle Policy link below. More information on carrying bicycles on trains in Ireland can be found on Rail Users Ireland’s website.

Armstrong stalls traffic as 1,200 cyclists follow his Twitter to the park

  • Armstrong attracts fans for park cycle, irishtimes.com – Last Updated: Tuesday, August 25, 2009, 21:26
  • Two months earlier singer Beyonce also rode a bicycle around the park and city but only the paparazzi followed her around, the Evening Herald took a break from its anti-cycle rhetoric.

€500,000 for cycle parking in schools and businesses

New bike parking in Drury Street

  • Dublin City Council removed 16 car parking spaces from the ground floor of their Drury Street Car Park and replaced them with 200 bike spaces. It’s unclear how successful it has being given people tend to lock their bicycles as close to shops or other locations as possible. Generally large scale parking like this is only suited to places like trains stations, transport hubs, and large event venues.
  • New bike parking in Drury Street, boards.ie
  • New cycle parking facility on Drury Street, dublincitycycling.ie

Dublin mobile bicycle repair launched

SEPTEMBER

DublinBikes racks up 200,000 trips, 23,000 subscribers in three months

  • DublinBikes crossing the river
    After much media and online comment about the danger of vandalism, theft or all the bicycles ending up in the River Liffey, DublinBike street rental system launched after delays in September.
  • The only notable problem seems to be it’s success, with users reporting some stations to be often full or empty. The bikes are now a regular sight on city streets Vandalism and theft related to the same system in Paris has yet to be seen in Dublin. Bikes have been reported to have gone missing, but these were later returned or retrieved.
  • More recently The Irish Times reported: “The most recent figures, compiled by the council on December 9th last, show 22,762 subscribers have signed up to use the bikes. The majority, 15,928, are long-term users who pay a €10 annual subscription fee, while 6,834 have bought three-day tickets at a cost of €2.”
  • Dublin City Council are planning to make current station larger and are looking at expanding the system
  • Dublin’s long-awaited wheel deal on track for September roll-out, The Irish Times – Saturday, June 13, 2009
  • Flashing lights legalised as new cyclists’ code planned, The Irish Times – Tuesday, December 29, 2009
  • Real Life: The chain gang, Irish Independent, Monday January 04 2010

Dublin City Council launch cycling website

  • DublinCityCycling.ie launched by Dublin City Council
  • Among other things the site asks people to give their views on where they want to see more bicycle parking. However an independent report in 2006 on cycling in the city told the council that it should pro-actively provide parking in busy places before people have to request such
  • It said: “A cycle parking strategy should be drawn up to give advice on the best forms of parking for the benefit of both the authority and developers, schools etc and pro-active programme of cycle parking provision should be prepared that ensures that the levels of use of existing stands are monitored and additional ones provided on a proactive basis without waiting for the public to request them”.
  • Dublin Cycle Campaign also relaunched their website this year at dublincycling.com

Funding for canal cycle route

  • In September, the Department of Transport approved funding for a high quality cycle route in Dublin from Rathmines to Fairview. The route will in part follow the south and north canals.
  • It will form the city centre part of the Sutton to Sandycove route. At Fairview the route will link to an already built section of the planned Sutton to Sandycove route. And in the longer term it is expected at Rathmines the route will be linked to an under construction 8.5km section of cycle track along the canal from Inchicore to Adamstown and Grange Castle [link] [article].
  • Department to spend €10m on 7km cycle route, The Irish Times, Wednesday, September 9, 2009
  • Dublin Canals Cycle Route, boards.ie, Started at 22-11-2009, 17:04

OCTOBER

Cycle policy included in Renewed Programme for Government

  • Setting an example
    The Green’s Renewed Programme for Government with FF mentions cycling in a few ways.
  • Most importantly it makes the Cycle Framework Policy actual Government policy. It stated: “We will vigorously pursue the delivery of the Government’s ‘Smarter Travel – A Sustainable Transport Future‘ and the recently published ‘Cycle Framework Policy‘ document.
  • The Sutton to Sandycove proposed cycle/pedestrian route is superseded by a Bray to Balbriggan route. The programme said: “We will develop Bray to Balbriggan cycling and pedestrian route” and it says “We will develop a Bray to Balbriggan cycle and pedestrian route, and other similar routes such as Oranmore to Barna, as major tourism and commuter facilities.” And that: “We will promote the development of cycling as a growth area for tourism”
  • It also says CIE [Irish Rail, Dublin Bus, Bus Eireann] policy of banning bikes on urban trains and buses will be reversed. This is also part of the cycle policy which mentions trials on Dublin Bus and Luas. In many countries it is common place for bicycles to be allowed on all train services, with some places having restrictions for peek times. While, in the US and elsewhere,  bicycle racks attached to the front of buses are common.
  • [related threads 1 & 2]

Bicycle recycling project Rothar wins award

  • Anne Bedos of Rothar wins a social entrepreneur award. As very few bike shops sell second hand bicycles, the project is one of just a few places to get a second hand bike.
  • Anne Bedos, Rothar, socialentrepreneurs.ie
  • http://rothar.ie/

NOVEMBER

Dublin ban on four-axle lorries not to go ahead

Clare cycle route listed in world top 10

Facts go out the window as the Afternoon Show goes on cycle helmets crusade

  • When RTE’s daytime TV show goes on a crusade pushing mandatory cycling helmets it enters the controversial debate without giving both sides of the story, giving little time to facts or research. Boards.ie user petethedrummer sums the programme up: “You can come here with your researched opinions and rigorous studies, but my gut tells me otherwise.”
  • The Afternoon Show: Mandatory Cycle Helmets, boards.ie

DECEMBER

Cycling campaign heavily criticize cycle lanes on new Samuel Beckett Bridge

Cycle manual draft released

  • As in the last item, poorly designed and maintained cycle lanes continue to be the norm around cities and the country the country in general,  see: Documenting Irish Cycle Lanes (and read here how to add your photos to the photo pool)
  • To try to improve this a draft cycle design manual was released for public consultation by the new National Transport Authority. A revised deadline is now 5pm, Monday 25th January 2010. The draft can be viewed here or here.
  • Comments on the draft should be emailed to info@nationaltransport.ie or posted to: Cycle Manual, National Transport Authority, Floor 3, Block 6/7, Irish Life Centre, Lower Abbey Street, Dublin 1.

Flashing bicycle lights made legal

  • Flashing lights made legal by the Minister for Transport after already being in widespread use [thread] [article]

Removal of mandatory use delayed

  • Minister for Transport delays removing mandatory use of cycle lanes. Press release says “risk assessment is being undertaken” for on mandatory use and undertaking. [thread] The Minister original gave the end of the year as the time scale for the removal of mandatory use, but this was looking unlikely when his department told me over the summer that they could not give a time frame.

Funds for cycle tracks partly spent on bus and normal traffic lanes

  • Bin and post parked in the cycle lane
    A press release fr0m the Department of Transport said they gave Dublin City Council funds for “21 kilometres of existing cycle tracks in Dublin” to be resurfaced by the end of last year, but much of this work seems to be have done on bus and normal traffic lanes.
  • The list of work to be done was as follows: Harold’s Cross Road from Grand Canal to Junction with Rathgar Avenue, 1.2km X 2; George’s Street, Aungier Street, Wexford, 1km X 2; Rathmines Road Lower, Rathgar Road, 2.1km X 2; Morehampton Road, Donnybrook Road, 1.5km X 2; Finglas Road to Glasnevin Cemetery, 3.1km X 2; Dorset Street at Blessington Street Drumcondra Road at Botanic Avenue, 1.5km X 2; and Parkgate Street Outbound 0.3km X 2
  • From the wording of the press release, it’s unclear if all of this was completed by the end of last year.
  • While all of this work should benefit cyclists in some way, calling it funding for cycle lanes is more than stretching the truth.

Safety leaflets for cyclists, bus and truck drivers released

So, how will 2009 be?…

ANYTHING MISSING?

Anything of note missing from the above? Comment below or email me and I’ll add it to the list.