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Rise in cycling came with an increased number of deaths - are we ready for so many bikes?

A count of cycle traffic in Dublin city from 2011 to 2013 shows a jump of 20,000 cyclists.

Image: Shutterstock/Aubrey Laughlin

CYCLING HAS BECOME an extremely popular mode of transport in recent years but with the increase in the number of cyclist deaths, is it time to look at how we are handling this popularity boost?

The number of cyclists killed on Irish roads doubled last year compared to 2013. A total of 12 cyclists were killed compared to five the year previous.

The Road Safety Authority said the greatest number of fatalities occurred in Dublin, followed by Limerick – while January and July were the most dangerous months.

However, Dublin was ranked 9th in the world on the Copenhagenize index list of bike-friendly cities for 2013.

The report stated that the introduction of DublinBikes was instrumental in re-establishing the bicycle on the urban landscape in Dublin.

shutterstock_236374321 Source: Shutterstock/Aitormmfoto

Dublin City Council data reveals that since the DublinBikes scheme began in 2009 – cycling has increased by 43% – that’s more than any other form of transport.

A count of cycle traffic in Dublin city from 2011 to 2013 shows a jump of 20,000 cyclists:

Pic 1- cycle Source: How bikes took over Dublin via Paul W Tracey

Dublin City Council tallied all traffic passing the Canal Cordon between 7am and 10am every day in November from 2011-2013.

It surveyed 33 locations – so that anyone entering Dublin must pass through a cordon point. It found that cycling had by far the largest increase during that time:

Pic 2- cycle Source: How bikes took over Dublin via Paul W Tracey

The growth isn’t planning on slowing down either - Dublin City Council is committed to growing cycle numbers in the city as part of it’s national aim of cycling making up 10% of commuter journeys by 2020.

However, a Trinity College study found that cycling in Dublin is generally perceived as unsafe by both experienced and inexperienced cyclists.

The RSA recorded 2,133 cycling injuries in 2013 (2,000 minor and 133 serious), yet hospitals logged 6,565 episodes of care for cyclists.

However, the RSA states that these episodes includes falls and other incidents that are not classified as road traffic collisions within the hospital system.

Dr Brian Caulfield, Assistant Professor in Civil Engineering in the School of Engineering at Trinity College Dublin, says many cycling accidents are not reported:

When people get in a car accident they report it to their insurance company or the gardaí, but cycling accidents are typically going under reported.

Caulfield said this is one of the main problems in tackling cycling safety in Dublin.

Dublin City Council told that providing a safe environment for cyclists is crucial and measures are being taken such as the introduction of a 30kph speed limit in parts of the city centre and cycle safety training for primary school children.

It also has plans for more segregated cycle paths.  It says parts of Greenways along the Tolka and the Sutton to Sandycove have already been provided and the council is planning for other routes on the Dodder, Liffey and Royal Canal.

Read: The number of cyclists killed on Irish roads has doubled this year>

Read: Irish road deaths are on the rise – is it time we looked to Sweden for safety inspiration?>

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