With the rise of cycling in Dublin, Ruth Murphy asks why cyclists aren’t taken into account when it comes to city planning.
As Dublin gets both greener and more congested, more people are switching to cycling. It is one of the fastest ways of getting around Dublin city. Some areas do have cycle lanes but altogether Dublin is not the safest place for a cyclist and will not be any safer within the next decade.
Cycling is cheaper, more reliable, and sometimes faster than other forms of transport. Bikes are getting more expensive but a €500 bike that might need to be serviced every year or two for €60 is certainly a lot cheaper than the bus or a car. Tyres lose their air and chains fall off but these can be easily rectified though you might get your hands a bit dirty. Also, Ireland’s bike to work scheme can greatly reduce the cost of a bicycle as you can get a bike up to the value of €1000 basically tax free (depending on how define tax free). The system is however pointlessly complicated and you need to get a voucher through your employer to actually purchase the bike. Nevertheless, you may save hundreds of euro.
With all this it’s no wonder that cycling is increasing in popularity across the city. There are more bike racks than ever before and more city bikes; definitely not enough, but more.
As more and more hop on their bikes more and more face the challenges of cycling in this city. This is a city where cycle lanes end without warning, where cyclists and buses share lanes, and where drivers have little idea of how to deal with cyclists. Some cars seem to expect cyclist to have super powers that help them to do incredibly sharp turns, stop very suddenly, and in some cases read minds. Indicators save lives.
It is intriguing that Irish cyclists and bus drivers are forced to share lanes when many cycle deaths are a result of colliding with a larger vehicle. While cyclists do collide with smaller cars, it is jeeps and trucks that tend to cause fatalities. It is especially dangerous when approaching a traffic lights where the vehicle beside you is turning left. You have little idea of whether the driver has actually seen you and while bus drivers are skilled at their jobs it would be difficult to spot a cyclist from such a large vehicle whilst also dealing with commuters on board and cars nearby.
It is not just cycle lanes that need to be suitable for cyclists but every road in this city and country that a cyclist may use.
Cyclists in Ireland can also injure themselves without encountering another vehicle or person as Irish roads are riddled with bumps and holes. The side of the road is almost always bumpier than the middle. Two members of my immediate family have gone to hospital due to injuries sustained from cycling over a deep dip on a busy road. As cars were so near both cyclists were forced into a dip. Dublin has roads that have been repaved despite being perfectly fine while other roads stay in disrepair. It is not just cycle lanes that need to be suitable for cyclists but every road in this city and country that a cyclist may use. The allocation of funds for the repaving of roads needs to be sorted more practically and with multiple county or city council areas taken into account so that an area with perfect roads does not spend money on repaving while an area nearby cannot afford such a thing.
Dublin was not designed for cyclists and is not being designed for cyclists. Though it was highlighted that the new extended luas could prove dangerous for cyclists there is no sign that these thoughts were taken into account. Cycle lanes around college green are either strangely sized, impractically placed, or in most cases non-existent. If college green is to become vehicle free can’t measurements be put in place to make it a safe space for cyclists?
Cycle lanes around college green are either strangely sized, impractically placed, or in most cases non-existent.
Planning changes are being put in place to make the city centre less congested, but these do not seem to consider cyclists even though cycling could reduce congestion. More often can you find a sign that says; “Bicycles will be removed” than bike racks in Dublin’s city centre.
The Irish government and local councils have the ability to provide adequate cycle lanes such as those along the grand canal and to simply take cyclists into account when altering driving routes or planning the expansions of public transport systems. When they refrain from doing this they are saying that the lives and injuries of Irish cyclists are not important. Cycling is becoming more and more relevant in Irish transport and if it is ignored there will be more cycling deaths and injuries. Wearing a helmet, lights, and high-visibility jackets are not enough when you slip on the Luas tracks or the car beside you decides last minute that they would like to turn left.
Cyclists should not have to slide under a bus for them to stop being swept under the rug.