Government & RSA Blind to 73% Increase in Cyclist Fatalities

There has been outrage among cyclists at the number of cyclist fatalities  in 2017 – fifteen according to the Gardaí and sixteen according to others. While the Gardaí may debate whether one was a pedestrian or a cyclist, the facts are that last year 16 cyclists left home never to return alive.

Analysis of cyclist fatalities is usually based on a 12 month period. However, this gives rise to a number of ‘spikes’  because of the relative low level of fatalities. A more useful  analysis – one that reduces the effect of spikes and reveals trends more clearly – comes from using a three year average calculated from the year before, the year in question and the year after. Figure 1, which was calculated in January 2017, shows the 1 Year Average and 3 Year Average Cyclist Fatalities for the period 1996 to 2016.  The 3 Year Analysis  shows that since 2010 there has been an increase in cyclist fatalities with the increase appearing to have eased slightly at the end of 2016. Note that the figure for 2016 was averaged over two years (2015 and 2016) as it was estimated in January 2017.


Figure 1:              1 Year and 3 Year Average Cyclist Fatalities 1996-2016 (Jan 2017)

In December 2017, the figure for 2016 was recalculated to include the 2017 cyclist deaths and an additional year 2017 was included by again averaging the fatalities over the last two years (2016 and 2017).


Table 1:              1 Year and 3 Year Average Cyclist Fatalities 2007 (Dec 2017)

Figure 2 below shows the revised graph which was derived in part from the table above.  As stated above, the 3 Year Average for the final entry (2017) was calculated over two years 2016 and 2017.


Figure 2:           1 Year and 3 Year Average Cyclist Fatalities 1996-2017 (Dec 2017)

The real scandal of increasing cyclist deaths is not the spike in the first half of 2017 but the  upward annual trend from 7.0 fatalities in 2010 to 12.5 fatalities in 2017 – an increase of more than 78% –  which has gone unnoticed by both the government and the RSA. This equates to an annual increase of some 8% each year for 7 straight years.

In 2017 some of the fatalities were recreational cyclists – others were utility cyclists. Some accidents occurred in urban areas while others occurred in rural areas. Many commentators have remarked that there is no pattern to the deaths but this is not the case.  Table 2 below lists the 2017 fatalities and the type of road on which the fatal collision occurred.

Table 2:                List of Cyclist Fatalities 2017 and Road Type

All the fatal accidents involved at least one other vehicle. Excluding Paul Hannon who was technically a pedestrian as he had dismounted from his bike at the time of the accident, eleven of the remaining 15 cyclists were either on national, regional  or city arterial roads. Thus, over 73% of fatalities happened on roads with high levels of traffic and/or high speeds – roads on which segregated cycle facilities would be provided in other countries as a matter of course but not in Ireland.

There are three main areas through which cyclist safety can be improved:

  • High quality infrastructure
  • Enforcement
  • Promotion/advertising

Infrastructure is the most capital intensive area and can take a significant period of time to show change at a national level. With government expenditure on cycling at €2.5 per head per annum, little high quality infrastructure and with no commitment to radical change, it is apparent that the government is prepared to settle for an “acceptable” level of cyclist deaths. The number of fatalities may spike somewhat from year to year (as in 2017) but with the levels of utility cycling virtually stagnant[1], the number of fatalities is unlikely to increase significantly enough to force change.

Enforcement of legislation is a matter for the Garda Siochana. The inadequacy of the Gardaí response to drink driving has received a lot of publicity and has still to be satisfactorily  resolved. Looking at international practice, the work of the West Midland police and their Close Pass Operation which led to a 20% decrease in the number of cyclist killed and seriously injured has been widely praised by cyclists advocacy groups. It is a good example of police enforcement and should be a model for the Gardaí to follow.

Infrastructure and enforcement are the two most effective areas and the areas on which the Irish government should focus. The third area – promotion (advertising) – is the least effective but involves little funding so, needless to say, it is the area where the Irish government concentrates its efforts. Everyone is aware of road safety and no motorists (or very few) go out with the deliberate intention of killing another road user. However, people are human and make mistakes.  To address fatalities, cyclists don’t need  empty gestures from the Gardaí/RSA such as Go Slow Days, pledges to go slow or EDWARD (European Day without a Road Fatality).  There is approximately one road fatality every second day in Ireland so there is a 50:50 chance of no fatality on 21st September. In 2016, EDWARD coincided with two fatalities in Donegal yet the Gardaí/RSA choose to repeat the exercise in 2017 and disappointingly the Dublin Cycling Campaign actually wanted to be associated with it. What is most depressing is that even in countries with high levels of cycling, it took a large number of dead cyclists – more than 100 of them children in a single year in the 1970s – to motivate Dutch politicians to take the matter seriously. The question is what is the threshold of dead cyclists for Irish politicians to take action? We know that in 2016 two child cyclists were killed including one going to school. This has had no impact on   politicians so obviously two is not enough.  For those who think that this is unfair on politicians, we are still awaiting a response from the body politic to the news from the EPA that air pollution in Ireland, principally caused by car traffic, causes 1200 premature deaths every year.

[1] Based on Census results, the level of commuter cycling in 2016 is at the level which previously occurred around the year 2000.

This article was amended to include the death of Pat Beakey whose fatality was omitted in the original. His inclusion increases the rise in fatalities since 2010 from 71% to 78% (ie from 7 to 12.5 instead of to 12).



Review of Year

For the last Newsletter of the year, we look at two of the major challenges to government for the past year and for future years – climate change and community health. Both impact on people directly affected but also impose a financial burden on the wider community. Increased cycling will not solve these problems but will reduce their detrimental effect. Before that though, we look at the issue which concerns all cyclists and the families of cyclists – road safety. While the risks of an accident are small, the effects of an accident can be appalling.


2017 has been a horrendous year for cyclist fatalities – the worst for more than a decade and a 50% increase on the number in 2016.  With eleven months of the year gone, there has been 14 (15) fatalities including a young woman in a collision just a few kilometres from Maynooth. The official statistics say 14 – the 15th was pushing his bike at the time of a collision with a car. In November a coalition of cyclist groups staged a major demonstration in front of Leinster House to protest at (1) lack of investment in safe cycling facilities by government, (2) lack of enforcement of traffic regulations by the gardaí and (3) lack of support for Minimum Passing Distance Legislation. There is a lot of anger at indifference by the government and by Shane Ross, the Minister for Transport.

 Climate Change & the Citizens’ Assembly

Maynooth was well represented among observers at the recent meeting of the Citizens’ Assembly in Malahide which was debating Climate Change. Maynooth Cycling Campaign was there along with representatives from Trócaire who are part of Stop Climate Chaos campaign and Prof John Sweeney.

On Saturday, the Assembly heard experts and discussed the issues while on Sunday the Assembly voted on thirteen motions related to climate change including three on transport :

  • Sustainable transport
  • Electric vehicles
  • Public transport

The vote on sustainable transport was for greatly increased bus and bike lanes. The second was for increased charging points for electric vehicles. The third was for a reallocation of funding from roads to public transport. All of the votes were carried overwhelmingly so we shall have to wait and see the response of government.

Ireland has now become the worst performing country in Europe on the Climate Change Performance Index (CCPI). The journalist Eoin Burke Kennedy described the situation very well when he wrote:

The Government’s decade of inaction is, however, finally beginning to overtake its rhetoric. In nearly every metric by which a country can be vetted on climate change, Ireland is failing.

Emissions are on the rise across all sectors; renewable-energy targets have not been met, water quality is plummeting, while cities are clogged with cars and public transport infrastructures starved of investment.

 Community Health

The second major challenge to the government is health. The Department of Health recently published the results of the 2017 Healthy Ireland Survey. Its findings include

  • 36% have a normal weight, 39% are overweight and 23% are obese.
  • Men are more likely to be overweight than women, with 70% of men overweight or obese, compared with 53% of women.
  • The proportion that is obese rises from 9% of 15 to 24 year olds, to 32% of those aged 65 and older.
  • Over a third (36%) indicate that they are trying to lose weight, 28% are trying to maintain their weight and 5% are trying to gain weight.
  • The most common action taken to lose weight is doing more exercise (68%).
  • Almost two-thirds (65%) of those travelling to work or education mainly travel by car.
  • 73% of those whose usual journey is less than one kilometre mainly use an active form of travel (by foot or cycle). This falls to 37% for those travelling between 1 and 3 kilometres.


Maynooth Cycling Campaign is a non-party political cycling advocacy group. Further information on meetings and activities is available on our website. We are affiliated to, the Irish Cycling Advocacy Network and through it to the European Cycling Federation. Membership is FREE. If you want to support our work, just email your contact details to .

Reflections on the Citizens’ Assembly by Leinster Wheeler


I had the pleasure of attending as an observer the Citizen’s Assembly dealing with Climate Change in Malahide on 4th and 5th November. Here are my thoughts of the weekend.

Day 1

The first speaker on transportation was Anne Graham, CEO of the National Transport Authority. She began by pointing out that Ireland’s greenhouse gas emissions per person are among the highest of any country in the world and outlined the characteristics of our transport network and the travel mode share. The problem with a speaker from the NTA is that it is dependent on the Department of Transport, Tourism and Sport  for funding so is not in a position to criticise its parent body. As a result, the talk was largely a restatement of current policies rather than mapping out a brave new path to the future or highlighting current deficiencies.

The second speaker was Dr. Brian Caulfield, Associate Professor at TCD. He outlined two options aimed at achieving a low carbon transport network – changing how we fuel our transport and reducing our reliance on private vehicles. A future low carbon transport model would see

  • Much greater use of public transport
  • Electrification of our car stock
  • Sustained growth in walking and cycling for lower distance trips
  • In rural areas the use of demand responsive transport

He pointed out that even if we achieve the targets of 25% electric vehicles by 2025 and 50% by 2030 (which is very ambitious) our carbon emissions would still grow by 22% rather than decrease. He pointed out that cars spend 95% of their time parked and when use for short journeys their emission profile is inefficient with cold starts. He went on to describe the change in car ownership models with the advent of Mobility as a Service (MaaS) and ‘Netflix for Cars’ ie you only pay for a car when you use one.

The third speaker was Connie Hedegaard the former Danish Minister for Climate and Energy and former EU Commissioner for Climate Action. Unfortunately, at the last moment, she was unable to come to Ireland for personal reasons but sent a message which is available on YouTube. The first part of her talk was about climate change in general while the second half focused on the role of bicycles in Copenhagen.

During a discussion which followed, one of the assembly members suggested that government ministers should have to use public transport for a month. This was warmly welcomed but the Chair stated that unfortunately that message could not be conveyed to government. There was also a suggestion (which I thought had some merit) that subsidies for electric vehicles should be greater for people living in rural areas than in Dublin.

Later sessions dealt with energy and agriculture.


Day 2

The second day began with an address by John Fitzgerald, Chair of the Climate Change Advisory Council. He gave a speech which was well received by the audience in which he discussed the scale of the problem and the degree of change that would be required to meet Ireland’s challenge on climate change.

The secretariat and a panel of experts had drawn up a draft Ballot paper which was divided into four sections including one on Transport. Based on feedback from the members, they proposed three questions related to transport on sustainable travel, electric vehicles and public transport.

In the initial draft, there was no text entered for the question on sustainable travel. Text in red proposed a ‘great’ increase in cycling, park and ride and ‘much greater priority’ for them over private cars. The problem was that ‘greatly increased’ or ‘much greater priority’ was not defined.

The second question was in relation to the electric vehicle promotion and referred to year on year increases in taxes on petrol and diesel.

The third question was in relation to expansion of public transport spending over road infrastructure at a ratio of no less than 2:1. This was quite a radical view but the original wording was watered down by the change of ‘road infrastructure’ to ‘new road infrastructure’. The addition of ‘new’ was very significant as most road expenditure is on existing roads rather than ‘new’ roads per se. The wording also referred to public transport with particular attention on rural areas. However, the economic reality is that public transport will always be concentrated on urban areas due to the higher population density.

Overall, I doubt that the motions will cause the mandarins in the Department of Transport, Tourism and Sport to lose any sleep.

Observations on the Process

It felt good to be see democracy in action (even as an observer) where people had come together to come to discuss and reach agreement on topical subjects. The Chair had commented that there was a greater number of observers for this meeting of the Citizens’ Assembly than previous sessions.  One observer present was a representative from the Council of Europe while another had come from Belgium. This brought home to me the international interest in the proceedings of our Citizens’ Assembly. Justice Mary Laffoy was an excellent Chair, but with the benefit of hindsight I had a number of reservations about the process. While the wordings and amendments to wordings were all proposed and accepted by the Assembly, my concern was about the information which was presented to the Assembly.  As someone who believes in the benefits to society of mass cycling, it was disappointing that the two of the three nominated speakers only referred to cycling in passing. The third speaker did devote half of her talk to cycling but it was in terms of the level of cycling in Copenhagen. Rather than ‘experts’, someone locally could point out barriers to cycling in Ireland, to the lack of children cycling to school, to WHO recommendations on levels of spending on walking and cycling and to the financial cost of Ireland failing to achieve climate change targets. I accept that cycling plays only a small part in the prevention of climate change and that not everyone would be exercised by it but I strongly feel that the motion on greatly increased cycle lanes was too bland, too general and too open to interpretation to carry much weight. For a mode of transport which in other countries can carry more than 20% of people, I regret to say that the outcome was disappointing.

Secondly, the experts and their areas of expertise was also open a cause of concern. A member of the Assembly raised the issue of a congestion charge which politicians in London introduced and which Stockholm citizens voted to introduce. One of the panel of experts replied that a congestion charge could not be introduced until public transport and park and ride facilities in Dublin are improved. I very much doubt that people in London or Stockholm were asked for their opinion on public transport before politicians introduced the congestion charge in those cities. While congestion, air pollution and health concerns are among the main drivers for change, it was troubling that  ‘business as usual’ was considered acceptable until however long it might take to bring public transport and park/ride facilities in Ireland up to an ‘acceptable’ level.

Finally, there were thirteen votes on different aspects of climate change. Most of the votes were overwhelmingly carried with more than 90% of citizens in favour which indicated to me that the motions were designed to reflect overwhelming majority opinion rather than gauge where people stood on a contentious issue.


 Kilcock Road Worse for Cyclists

Kildare County Council has recently made changes to the Kilcock Road at Laraghbryan which not only fail to attract new cyclists but also makes the situation worse for existing cyclists so for anyone who cycles or would like to cycle, it is a case of ‘Lose Lose’.

17 Nov Kilcock Road

They do not seem to realise that the Department of Transport stopped funding the conversion of hard shoulders for cycling some four or five years ago and that Irish, UK and Dutch standards recommend that cyclists are segregated on roads where the speed limit is 60kph or higher.  The result of the changes is that drivers expect cyclists to use the hard shoulder and some cyclists have been blown at for exercising their right to cycle on the ‘road’.

The Electric Car- Panacea for Modern Ills?

Some twenty years ago, it was cars which ran on lead free petrol. Five or six years ago, car salesmen were promising that diesel engines were the future rather than greenhouse gas producing petrol engines. Now they are hyping electric cars as the new improved environmentally friendly car. What will Mill Street look like full of electric cars? Well actually exactly the same as it looks full of cars powered by petrol or diesel engines. In a recent article, Prof Frank Kelly of Kings College London says “Fewer not cleaner vehicles are needed” and has warned that the UK government already accepts there is no safe limit for the tiny pollution particles from brake and tyre dust.

 Budget 2018

. In October, the government announced the budget for 2018. Maynooth Cycling Campaign and other cycling groups had been looking for 10% of the land transport budget (€165Million) to be allocated to cycling or at least the announcement of a roadmap towards that target. What was the outcome? Well the Minister has allocated €110 for walking and cycling over four years which amounts to an average annual allocation of €27.5M. So how much will the Minister give to cycling? Who knows? He could give €27 Million to cycling and €0.5 Million to walking. Then again, he could €0.5 Million to cycling and €27 Million to walking. Or he could nothing in the first three years and backload cycling in year 4. Like any three card trick, the viewer has to try to guess where the Queen (ie money) is.

In Sweden the government has just announced that they will be providing €35M per year until 2020 just to promote (electric) e- bikes. Transport is one of the main causes of increasing greenhouse gases which lead to climate change and weather extremes. The lack of joined up thinking between our pattern of travel and global warming is astonishing. Expect more storms.

Maynooth Cycling Campaign is a non-party political cycling advocacy group. Further information on meetings and activities is available on our website. We are affiliated to, the Irish Cycling Advocacy Network and through it to the European Cycling Federation. Membership is FREE. If you want to support our work, just email your contact details to .

NTA Makes Dog’s Dinner of Cycle Quality

The NTA have made a dog’s dinner of cycle facility quality. Yes they are concerned about quality and yes they refer to it in the National Cycle Manual but does anyone outside the NTA really understand it?

When people are booking a hotel, they have an understanding of the ‘Star’ system of ranking. They may not understand the difference between a 2 star and 3 star hotel but they understand that a 3 star hotel is more luxurious or offers better facilities than a 2 star one and would expect to pay more for it (all other things being equal).

So what is the story with the quality of cycle facilities? There are five levels of service – A+, A, B, C and D. Any cycle facility which does not fall into the first four is level D. Width is one of five determinants of quality the other being number of conflicts, percentage of HGVs on the route, pavement condition and journey time delay. (There has been some modification to pavement condition as a result of the development of the Greater Dublin Cycle Network but the amendments have not been incorporated into the written or digital Manual.) Width is by far the most important determinant, so what does the Manual say about width and level of service? The Manual assesses width in terms of the number of adjacent cyclists as shown below.

So is the width of Level C the same as Level D? And is the width of Level A the same as Level B? What is the width of a Level A facility? In Section 1.5.2, there are references to widths of five cycling regimes but the Manual does not state if the cycling regimes correspond to the Level of Service, and furthermore the exact meaning of different regimes is unclear and open to interpretation. For example what does basic two way mean?

Section 1.5.1 of the Manual on Determining Width includes the following
The designed width of a cycle facility is comprised of the effective width, i.e. the
space that is “usable” by cyclists, as well as the clearances that will be required in
different circumstances.

Effective width as opposed to designed or constructed width is a very important concept as it takes conditions on either side into account. This is important as local authorities often provide a 2m wide cycle track with kerbs adjacent to the footpath on one side and adjacent to a traffic lane on the other, which only has an effective width of 1m.

To make matters worse, the Manual defines the minimum width of a shared footway as 3m, but whether this is effective width or designed/constructed width is not clarified and it does not define whether this is one way cycling shared with two way pedestrians or two way cycling shared with two way pedestrians. The MAnual does not take the level of use into account. As 3m is the minimum standard in accordance with the National Cycling Manual, it is assumed that the level of service for cycling is the fifth and lowest category ie D. Then, just when you think that the NTA couldn’t complicate things further, they succeed.

In 2015, they published a Permeability Best Practice Guide which also has five levels of service but in this case they are A,B,C, D and E. Section 3 of the Guide defines widths for the different Quality of Service (see below) but doesn’t define whether these are effective or constructed widths.

Permeability Quality of Service

The Best Practice Guide states that local authorities in urban areas should aim to provide a Level A quality of service for any pedestrian or cycle links between residential areas and destinations such as schools and shops. Not unreasonably, the document goes on to point out that Level A will often be unachievable due to constraints but at least sets out a high target.

So where does that leave the common situation that arises where one section of a route has segregated cycle facilities and the next section has a 3m wide shared footway? Using the permeability criteria, the shared section is ranked category B and C (second and third) but using the National Cycle Manual criteria, it is D (fifth). What would you think of an organisation which ranks a hotel as one star, three star and four star at the same time? The idea of a star ranking is good. It gives cycle campaigners, politicians and the general public a crude but convenient assessment of quality. However, the time to properly define its use is long overdue.

Budget 2018 – Share Ross’s Three Card Trick

Last year, the government allocated approximately €12 million to cycling which was made up of some €10.4 million from the budget and a supplement during the year of a further €1.6 million for greenways. Cycling groups including support the allocation of 10% of transport expenditure to cycling or, at the very least, a roadmap to ramp up investment in cycling to that level. We will judge the budget on this basis rather than on the totality of the allocation per se.

Budget 2018 has now been published and the government has approved additional current and capital expenditure by the DTT&S. The multi annual expenditure ceilings for the department are reproduced below from the Part III Estimates for Public Services 2018:

2018 Budget Table

The Department of Transport, Tourism & Sport uses the term ‘Land Transport’ to describe two main areas – Roads and Public Transport whereas Public Transport is an umbrella term which is used to encompass expenditure on buses, rail, walking and cycling. Thus the Budget 2018 allocation for cycling should be €165 million.

What was allocated to cycling? Well who knows? In the manner beloved of the DTT&S, they lump cycling and walking together and have promised €110 Million over four years. This works out at €27.5 Million per year on average. So how much will the Minister give to cycling? Well he could give €27 Million to cycling and €0.5 Million to walking. Then again, he could €0.5 Million to cycling and €27 Million to walking. Or he could nothing in the first three year and backload cycling in year 4. Like any three card trick, the viewer has to try to guess where the Queen (ie money) is.

Cycling does get some further mention of minor funding but it is the headline figure of €110 million which stands out. In contrast, Sweden with a modal share for cycling of 9% (2009) and with twice the population of Ireland has just announced an allocation of €35 million JUST for the promotion of E-Bikes.

The Minister did agree to provide €30 Million for greenways. It should be pointed out that this was under the heading of tourism rather than transport. While this involves more people cycling, it will do little to increase the 3% of people who currently cycle and is rightly categorised under recreation rather than transport as it does not address the problems of congestion, community health, sustainability and climate change which every day cycling does.

The Minister protests that he is unable to quantify how much his Department spends on cycling and his latest pronouncement in the Dáil is that he doesn’t understand modal change. It is hoped that he is a fast learner because in January when budget details have been confirmed to TII, NTA, local authorities and such like, proposes to find out through parliamentary questions just how paltry the allocation for cycling is and will forward the news to him.

On one level, it is astonishing that a mode of transport of transport which can carry over 25% of the population is so overlooked. At another level, however, it is hardly unsurprising as it is totally in keeping with the view set out in the totally autocentric document Strategic Investment Framework for Land Transport. There may be individuals in the Department with an alternative vision for the future but they only produce nice sounding policy documents. The decisions on finance remain firmly in the hands of those who favour road building.


Summertime (Written during July)

It is summer. The schools and university are closed. The days are long and the weather is good (so far). We hope that people will have the opportunity to get out on bikes and enjoy the fresh air and the countryside.

Maynooth Newsletter Editorial

The editorial in last month’s Newsletter contained a number of statements on cycling with which we take issue.

Firstly, an accident is an event that happens by chance or that is without apparent or deliberate cause. A driver turning into a side street and hitting a cyclist is not an accident. The event is not by chance and has a deliberate cause although not caused deliberately. It is a collision which results from not driving with due care and attention. The media often reports such events as accidents and even worse some journalists describe they as cyclists colliding with cars which suggests that the cyclist is at fault. Several reports in different countries confirm that in collisions between a  vehicle and a cyclist, drivers are responsible for about 60% of collisions, cyclists for about 20% and in 20% of cases investigators are unable to decided which party is at fault.

In relation to pinch points, the editorial states that  ‘…these points will be more dangerous for the cyclist’. It is not clear what ‘more dangerous’ refers to.  There will always be pinch points in a network but good design should ensure that the vulnerable mode of travel ie pedestrians and cyclists are prioritised over car travel. This is in accordance with the Hierarchy of Road Users which most civilised countries follow. The problem in Ireland is that lip service is paid to the hierarchy and instead car travel is prioritised. It is hoped that the child in question will recover soon and will not be put off cycling. It was fortunate that he/she fell on the footpath side. If it had happened on the road side, the consequences could have been much more severe. Of course,  Straffan Road could have had a verge or other separation on the road side to segregate cyclists from motorised vehicles as is best international practice but Kildare County Council officials and councillors instead chose to prioritise motorised vehicles and retain  right turning lanes.

Based on the provision of cycle facilities in north Kildare, I fear that your trust that the North/South will be completed to a high standard is misplaced. None of the other  proposals in north Kildare are to a high or even moderately high standard internationally and in fact several are substandard. There are good reasons why the European Cycling Federation ranks Ireland at 21st out of 28 in European countries in terms of being cycle friendly – just above Latvia, Greece, Malta, Cyprus, Portugal and Romania.

In relation to the desire for traffic controls on cycle routes ie traffic lights, I would point out that best international practice is to minimise delay for cyclists so good design provides for cyclists to bypass traffic lights, where feasible. Cyclists do not have to be reminded of safety. With eleven cyclists killed on Irish roads in 2017 to date including one young woman just a few kilometres outside Maynooth, we are acutely aware of safety every time we get on a bicycle. Rather than blaming the victim, I think your editorial should address drivers who after all are the ones who pose the threat.

Census  2016

The CSO recently published the initial transportation results from Census 2016. The spin put on the report was that there was a 42% increase in commuting to work by bicycle. The reality was rather more modest. Taking work and education trips together, the increase amounted 4.15% per annum which might appear reasonable but for a country  like  Ireland with an existing low level of cycling 4.15% is poor. The Census figures also indicated that the number of Irish children being driven to primary school  continues to increase. The table below compares how Irish and Dutch children travel to primary school.

Means of Travel
Country Foot Bike Car
Ireland (2016) 24.6% 1.4% 62.8%
Netherlands (2012) 30% 37% 30%


Although there are footpaths to virtually all Irish primary schools in urban areas, the percentage of children who walk to school is 25% higher in the Netherlands. Dutch politicians are concerned that 30% of their children are driven to primary school and address the concerns by high levels of investment in cycling and walking. In contrast, Irish government and local government allocates a pittance to cycling and  political parties and individual politicians are paralysed with fear of antagonising the motor lobby. So despite policies and strategies on health, transport and climate change, car dependency continues to increase.

Countdown Clock

As we are fast approaching the government target date of 2020 for the achievement of 10% commuting trips and also 10% of total trips by bike, Maynooth Cycling Campaign decided to add a Countdown Clock to its website to mark the occasion. When we investigated how to do this, we found that there was a computer app (application) available. However, a problem arose, when we tried to set the countdown clock to the estimated date which was calculated on the basis of increase in cycling over the last five years. The programme would only allow a countdown date of up to twenty years ie 2037. It would not allow a date far enough in the future. We managed to get around this however and our Countdown Clock shows that the 2020 target will not be achieved  for another 30 years so don’t hold your breath!

Countdown Clock to 10% Cycling

As we are fast approaching the government target date of 2020 for the achievement of 10% commuting trips and also 10% of total trips by bike, Maynooth Cycling Campaign decided to add a Countdown Clock to its website to mark the occasion. When we investigated how to do this, we found that there was a computer app (application) available. Based on the this assumption that progress will continue at the rate of the past five years, we estimate that the government target will be achieved in 2048. However, a problem arose, when we tried to set the countdown clock to 2048. The programme would only allow a countdown date of up to twenty years ie 2037. It would not allow a countdown far enough in the future. We managed to get around this however and our Countdown Clock shows that the 2020 target will not be achieved  for another 30 years. Don’t hold your breath!

In Response to an Article in the Leinster Leader by Paul O’Meara

It is not about bikes and parking. The issues are congestion, inactivity in the community, obesity , air and noise pollution and sustainability. This is not to mention the road fatalities and serious accidents in Kildare and 1200 premature deaths nationally according to the EPA. Bicycles and cycle facilities are just tools which will address (not solve) all these problems whereas more cars will just worsen them. Smart cities and towns realise that cars need a disproportionate amount of space for moving and parking and are investing in space efficient modes of transport ie in walking and cycling. Believe it or not, people actually cycle in the snow and rain and some people with disabilities use bicycles as a mobility aid. In relation to current usage of cycle lanes, if roads were low quality, disappear without warning and only cover about 1% of the journeys people want to make, car travel would be at the same level as cycling currently is.