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Graphed: Irish students hopping from bicycles to cars

Students leaving Dublin City University, on bike, by car, and on foot. Copyright (C) Cian Ginty.

Last week the Central Statistics Office released its report on commuting habits of the nation and the good news is cycling is up overall, but the section on student travel is depressing reading.

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As the graphs below shows, cycling accounted for over 25% of third level students commuters in the mid-80s. Soon after, however, the amount of students hopping on saddles declined ever year for over a decade. The decline continued right up until after the turn of the century when cycling accounted for less than 5% of third level student commuters. As of the 2011 census, it has yet to recover over 5%.

For secondary students cycling stayed around 15% for all of the 80s and the decline started around five later compared to third level students. The decline was steady throughout the 90s.

The CSO says;

The number of secondary school students travelling to school on a bicycle has decreased from a peak of 50,648 in 1986 to 6,592 in 2011, a fall of 87 per cent. The decline in the number of girls using a bicycle has been particularly stark, falling from over 19,000 in 1986 to only 529 in 2011.

The difference between Dublin and the rest of the country for third level students is stark. The CSO lumps cycling with walking:

Cycling is not noteworthy enough among primary school children for cycling to be even included on the graph, but here we also see a stark switch. Children walking to school has largely been replaced by parent’s driving them, while bus use is also down:

ALSO SEE: Cycling today in Ireland – highlights from Census 2011

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

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Cian Ginty


  1. Who’s paying for it? Parents obviously. That can’t last … the current generation of students will not be buying cars for their children …


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