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Dublin councillor wants green wave for bicycles

A councillor wants Dublin City Council to copy Copenhagen and give bicycles a green wave — that is, a system which gives people on bicycles only green lights if they travel at 20km/h into the city at rush hour.

Earlier today at a South East Area Committee meeting, Cllr Paddy Smyth (FG) tabled a motion calling on the council to implement a green wave on suitable routes in the area, as well as the proposed River Dodder Greenway.

Smyth said: “This system has been successfully implemented on a number of routes in the city of Copenhagen.”

He explained, “The ‘green wave’ coordinates the traffic lights for cyclists so that if they ride at a speed of 20 km/h, they will hit green lights all the way into the city in the morning rush hour. The wave is reversed in the afternoon so bicycle users can flow smoothly home too.”

The system is used on sections of three routes in Copenhagen, the longest being around 2.2km on a section of the Nørrebrogade arterial route into Copenhagen’s city centre. According to the City of Copenhagen, over the 2.2km distance, there was a saving for cycling of 6 less stops and a time saving of 2.29 minutes in the morning peak and 1.13 minutes in the evening rush hour.

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Car traffic was positively effected — between 0 and 50 seconds faster. There was mixed effects on buses — the peak flow buses towards the city centre was marginally slower (4 seconds) in the morning, but 13 seconds faster in the evening. However, counter-peak services — ie those away from the city in the morning and towards the city in the evening — were made slower by between 30 to 50 seconds.

MORE: The Green Waves of Copenhagen (
MORE: Green Wave for cyclists ( is reader-funded journalism. That means it's funded by readers like you.

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Cian Ginty


  1. Copenhagen has segregated infrastructure on many routes too, unlike Dublin. How is it all going to work with our poorly designed junctions ? And before even doing this, what about turning on the advance start function on existing newish cycle lights all over the city centre ?

    20 kmh isn’t exacly slow cycling either for those not on a sports bike. Setting it at 15 kmh would be far more inclusive.

  2. The whole idea is ridiculous frankly. The green wave doesn’t seem to work particularly well for cars so I very much doubt anyone will be able to work out the logistics for bicycles.

    Even if they could then what speed should they set? Cars can all easily hit a constant 30kph. Bicycle speed varies hugely. 20kph? Too fast for some perhaps. 15kph? I ride a heavy hybrid in work clothes with a bag and my current average is 15kph including stopping at all the red lights so this system won’t help me at all.

    If there is a strong wind then the average speeds set will be out in both directions so people will end up stopped at lights anyway. Presumably no route with a hill on it will be suitable since the average speed will change depending on what direction you are going.

    It appears that the statistics used to show the benefit of this scheme in Copenhagen were generated by using a test cyclist specifically trying to maintain the required speed. These are optimal results I’d be far more interested in real world results.

  3. I would be happy if they just give the same time at the lights as cars for Cyclists, EVEN Steven. On the very few Segregated tracks that we have like the Portobello to Sheriff Street route the Cyclists is left waiting for a very long time. While the Motorists is given parity over the Cyclist and has longer driving time before the lights go against them. Also the lights change in favour of Motorists very quickly.

    On these very wide Roads like Patrick Street Nicholas Street Hill you need a Cyclists Lights that give you a minute start on the Cars so Cyclists can turn Safely right onto Christchurch Place to Dame Street or indeed to go straight down St Michaels Hill under the Synod Hall Arch. It is very hard to get over to the right across the Herd of Traffic coming up that Hill


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