Cycling today in Ireland – highlights from Census 2011

Cycling increased almost 10% nationally between the 2006 and 2011 censuses. From limited data available before last week, we previously reported there was a 26% increase in cycling in Dublin.

Last week the Central Statistics Office released its report on commuting which outlines a fuller picture and gives a breakdown of trends in the last three decades. Here’s some of the key bits on cycling from the census data and the report…

The CSO report says:

Commuters cycling to work
Between 2006 and 2011 [nationally] there was a 9.6 per cent jump in the number of persons cycling, rising from 36,306 to 39,803. [This figure is just for workers, another 21,374 cycle to school or college]

However, close to 20,000 fewer persons cycled to work in 2011 compared with 1986, when the number of cyclists was at its peak. The share of commuters cycling to work was 2.4 per cent at the last census, as opposed to 7.2 per cent recorded in 1986.

As we reported first: 39,000 commuters to work and study in Dublin count themselves mainly as cyclists, up by 26% since 2006. In all of Co Dublin, which includes the four council areas combined, the modal share is at 5%, up from 3.95% in 2006. It accounts for an actual increase of over 8,000 people.

Not only has the capital outpaced national growth in cycling — Dublin has made up for declines elsewhere. Even between the four Co Dublin councils there notable differences —  Dublin City and Dún Laoghaire-Rathdown council areas account most of the growth and for over three quarters of the 39,044 people who are mainly cyclists (see our previous story for a detailed breakdown).

On that story, a reader Ossian Smyth, who looked the the data for other cities, commented:

Cork city is also up 20% (from a low base), Galway city: no change, Limerick and Waterford cities both down about 10%. I think this tells us that the cycle to work scheme alone is not enough to make people change mode. Perceived safety, cycle infrastructure and traffic congestion are probably key drivers.

Gender
The CSO reports that “The number of females who drove to work in 2011 (551,638) exceeded the number of male drivers (515,813) for the first time,” and more women also walk to work. However cycling is still very much so male dominated. The CSO says men accounted for the majority of those cycling with 29,075 out of the total 39,803.

Percentage wise that’s a 73/27 split nationally. The split is notably, but still modestly, smaller in Dublin City among workers at 69/31 and for third level students at 70/30, however it is much worse among secondary students in the capital at 93/7. Dublin’s primary school gender split at 72/28 is a bit more promising and closer to the overall national figure.

Cities vs the rest
Cycling is most popular in Dublin and Galway, at nearly 6% and 5% respectively. It is notably less popular in Limerick, Cork and Waterford, in that order. The report says:

“Cycling to work was most popular in Dublin with 5.9 per cent cycling to work followed by Galway with 4.9 per cent. In smaller towns only 1.5 per cent cycled to work while only 0.5 per cent cycled to work in the aggregate rural area.”

A note of caution: The census only records travel by those commuting to work or study and only the main mode of transport use. This may be a problem for getting a true picture of cycling compared to other modes of transport as many regular cyclists also use other modes of transport. Regular cyclists who, say, cycle two days a week but take the bus or drive the other three days are not counted as cycling. The same goes for those commuters who cycle for part of their journey but spend longer using another mode of transport. A prime example is train, coach, tram and bus users who get on Dublin Bikes near the end of their trips, or those who cycle to train stations.

ALSO SEE: Graphed: Irish students hopping from bicycles to cars

MORE: Mapped: Cyclists in Dublin by area
MORE: 39,000 people commute regularly by bicycle in Dublin – Census
MORE: CSO commuting report and data

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  1. How cycling declined in Irish cities before bouncing back in some

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