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Dublin: 14 °C Saturday 20 July, 2019
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Opinion: 'Cyclists would rather not be sharing road space with lorries, buses, and cars'

Providing the infrastructure would go a long way to solving these arguments, and getting more cyclists in the saddle, writes Roderic O’Gorman.

Roderic O'Gorman Green Party Councillor

WHEN I MOVED to Blanchardstown village about ten years ago, I made a decision to start cycling again.

For me, the major use my bike gets is for activities related to my Council work – traveling to Council meetings, heading out canvassing, and meeting with constituents in their homes.

I use it four or five times a week. I don’t use it for my work commute – I find it more convenient to use those 50 minutes to answer emails on my phone while on the bus or train.

Flexibility

Living in a congested suburb like Dublin 15, the best thing about the bike it its flexibility. For short journeys around the area at rush hour, particularly if you’re passing through major pinch points like Castleknock village or the notorious Snugborough Road interchange, it is far quicker to travel by bike than it is by car.

Obviously, the cost savings over a car are pretty huge. Barring a few services over the course of a year and new tyres, there’s very little cost after the initial outlay.

A great side-effect of using a bike a few times a week are the health benefits. It definitely helps keep the weight down, particularly during weeks when the work and Council schedule doesn’t allow time for the gym. And after a long and sometimes contentious Council meeting, a cycle is a great way to clear the head.

Getting back on the bike was a great decision for me personally, and it seems others want to make that choice too.

At record levels

I’ve noticed a real increase in the number of people on their bike each day, and the stats back this up. Cycling is at record levels in Dublin – 12,500 people commute to work in the city by bike every single day. Imagine how many more would if safe, dedicated cycle lanes were provided?

Too often, debates about cycling infrastructure descend into an unhelpful cars vs cyclists argument. Trust me, cyclists would rather not be sharing road space with lorries, buses, and cars. Providing the infrastructure would go a long way to solving these arguments, and getting more cyclists in the saddle.

Dublin’s population is growing, and we simply have to make provision for people to get to and from work without a car. Modern European cities manage to do this – there’s no reason why Dublin and other urban centres can’t do the same. The result will be less congestion, cleaner air and a healthier population. It’s common sense.

Health benefits

More people cycling on their daily commutes will be good for society. I mentioned the personal health benefits I get from cycling, but this has wider, knock-on effects. In the Netherlands, for example, where cycling is widespread, a study estimated that the health benefits from cycling saves their health service $23 billion per year. With savings like that, why wouldn’t we encourage cycling?

We also know that traffic congestion is bad for the economy – in Dublin alone it costs the economy €350 million per year. This is projected to rise, and rise sharply.

So what can we do to tackle the traffic gridlock? While we’re waiting on MetroLink, and DART Underground, and BusConnects, and all the long term public transport projects to be completed, our best bet is to get people on their bikes.

Bike Week

Dedicated cycle lanes, cyclist friendly ‘Dutch roundabouts’ at major junctions and proper parking stands would go a long way to making is safer and more attractive. The network of cycle lanes is increasing, but too often these start and stop in an arbitrary way, with little consideration for how cyclists can safely join or leave them.

This Bike Week, it’s time for the government to commit to cycling, and reverse the declining investment levels we’ve seen in recent years. Fund the projects, and they’ll pay for themselves. It’s good for people, good for the economy, and good for society.

Roderic O’Gorman is a Green Party Councillor on Fingal County Council, representing the Castleknock Ward. Follow him on Twitter @rodericogorman.

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About the author:

Roderic O'Gorman  / Green Party Councillor

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