Cycling in Ireland 2015: Fines, rhetoric and #freethecyclelanes

Our year in review highlights some of the top utility cycling news for 2015 and also includes some more isolated stories which reflects wider trends. The year in review is followed by our top 25 viewed articles in 2015:

Your view: What have we missed or overlooked? What was your year in cycling like? Comment below and we will create an article highlight reader’s years.


SHARING FOOTPATHS: A large amount of people, groups such as the National Council for the Blind, and many councilors and TDs are against footpaths shared between walking and cycling, yet 2015 was another year councils kept building and planning shared footpaths. There was even no space for cycling beside a 6-lane dual carriageway.


IMAGE: A bike hanger is “an excuse to sabotage car use” said the AA (Photo: Cyclehoop)

BICYCLE PARKING VS CAR PARKING: In 2015, rhetoric against cycling possibly reached new highs (or lows). Bicycle hangers (pictured, right) offer secure parking to residents of city areas which have no access to sheds or other storage and are only used on residential streets where there is demand from residents. But Conor Faughnan, the director of consumer affairs of motoring group the AA, claimed that it was all “an excuse to sabotage car use“.

“HORRIFIED” AT CYCLE ROUTE: Using a Freedom of Information request we also found how some retailers were lobbing the city council against the Liffey Cycle Route. Brown Thomas was “horrified”.


IMAGE: Parking Protected contra-flow in Cork (Image by Keith Byrne)
IMAGE: Parking Protected contra-flow in Cork (Photo: Keith Byrne)

DEFENDING CYCLING: Minister for agriculture, and TD for Cork South–Central, Simon Coveney (FG) said that councils should not have to apologies prioritising bicycles in cities, but another local TD and Fianna Fáil’s health spokesman has issues issues.

BICYCLE HELMETS: In March we had a look at the parliamentary records and found that the issue of compulsory bicycle helmets was raised by TDs and Senator 14 times in the last 15 years. If other countries are anything to go by, this is likely at least partly due to concerted lobbying.


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IMAGE: The 10 millionth DublinBikes journey was taken by Mairéad Roche, pictured above with the transport minister and others (Photo: Jason Clarke Photography)

DUBLINBIKES: It was good news from DublinBikes as the total number of rentals since September 2009 broke the 10 million mark — with nearly 1 million of these in the first three months of 2015 alone which shows a large acceleration in use after the system was expanded.

BICYCLE TRAFFIC UP: Traffic counts also showed good news. Over 10,000 people on bicycles are now crossing Dublin’s canals in morning rush hour — that excludes 99% of DublinBikes traffic which starts within the canals and bicycle commuters who live in places like Portobello, Stoneybatter, and the Docklands.

LOWER STANDARDS: However, more bad news was on the horizon for cycle route standards. Dublin City Council’s solution to conflict issues on the Clontarf section of the S2S cycle route? To recommend that people cycling on a main route should yield to minor pedestrian crossings out of car parks and minor road car park entrances.


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IMAGE: The Castlebar to Turlough greenway (Photo

GREENWAY OPENS: The Castlebar to Turlough greenway was one of a few such routes to open this year. The route is reported to be used heavily. Later in the year we reviewed the Castlebar route, showing that while it’s a pleasure to cycle, there’s some major issues.

BEST CYCLING CITIES: Ahead of the Copenhagenize Index of Bicycle Friendly Cities at the start of June we detail why Dublin City should not be on a list of best cycling cities and how the city needs to try harder to provide for cycling for all ages and abilities. And, while there’s a lot of planning, little action is happening on the ground.

RULES OF THE ROAD FOR SOME: In long-form we detailed why the Road Safety Authority was criticised over not following its own Rules of the Road on cycle lanes


IMAGE: #freethecyclelanes launched

#FREETHECYCLELANES: A hastag was launched to push the importance of keeping cycle lanes clear and to highlight how parking in cycle lanes is a widespread issue. On Twitter, @GardaTraffic have highlighted welcomed recent enforcement (see here and here), but overall the image still isn’t great with campaigners showing how only 112 motorists were fined for blocking cycle lanes at same time the first 244 cyclists got on-the-spot fines.

APARTMENT BLOCK BLOCKS ROUTE: Dublin City Council had one solution to handle bicycles, buses and cars along the Liffey Cycle Route corridor. There was one problem: A key bit of land on the planned bus route was sold for development, planning approval was given for an apartment block and construction had started.

SAFETY IS COMMERCIALLY SENSITIVE: The Road Safety Authority rejected a Freedom of Information request on cycle lane safety due to “commercial sensitivity”.

FAKING BLIND SPOTS: Blind spots in trucks are a real risk to people cycling so it was a surprise when the Road Safety Authority were accused of faking video showing bicycles hidden in truck blindspot.


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IMAGE: A sample of the plans from Waterford (Image: Waterford City and County Council)

NO PROTECTION: In another example of how low quality cycle route design is still alive and kicking, Dublin City Council dropped segregation in favor of painted cycle lanes on a major cycle route between Amiens St and Clontarf, which will form part of S2S at least in the short term. City council plans to remove Point Village roundabout

PROGRESSIVE PLANS: Waterford City released plans for cycle lanes and cycle paths to form part of more people-centric Waterford city centre. While not perfect, it shows signs of trying a lot harder than Dublin City.

BIKES ON TRAMS: Edinburgh Trams had a successful trial of allowing bicycles on trams, so there was a renewed call for bicycles to be allowed on off-peak Luas trams. Sadly, nothing has happened since.

RALLYING CRY: As Arnotts lined itself up to join the same company and family ownership of Brown Thomas, it started lobbying lobbying against sustainable transport measure and rallied other businesses against the transport plans for Dublin city centre.


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IMAGE: On-the-spot fines are designed to safe court and Garda time and resources (Photo:

RECKLESS CYCLING?: One of most popular stories cycling stories of the year was the introduction of on-the-spot fines for road traffic offences for cycling. Here’s all of what you need to know about the fines. Just before Christmas the minister for transport said that there was “around 400” of such fines issued.

AGAINST THE GRAIN: Allowing contra-flow cycling without lanes on narrow streets is not common in Ireland — but now there’s a new example to add to existing successful examples.


IMAGE: Cllr Nial Ring does not want Dublin City Council to be seen as “anti-motorist”

DUBLIN – GALWAY GREENWAY: While the Athlone to Mullingar section of the Dublin to Galway Greenway started to be used before it was opened, the Athlone to Galway section suffered set back after set back this year. The transport minister said he was reviewing the route which was a clear warning. But in October, Galway politicians sided with farmers objecting to the route, and then the minister putting the funding on hold.

BACKLASH or BIKELASH?: Back in Dublin the backlash or “bikelash” reached a strange new peak as a city councilor, who is a serial objector to cycle routes, tried to have motoring “recognised” in the council’s sustainable transport policy.


IMAGE: Bicycles can only be kept in racks on Irish Rail intercity and long-distance commuter railcars
IMAGE: Bicycles can only be kept in racks on Irish Rail intercity and long-distance commuter railcars (Photo:

ONE-WAY ONLY: Tackling the barrier that is one-way streets in Dublin suffered a set back as a push to secure contra-flow cycling on key Dublin streets failed by just one vote.

BIKE BAN?: There was more bad new for some and good news for others as Irish Rail said it was to enforce the existing rush-hour bicycle ban on trains in Dublin.


IMAGE: Mixing bicycles and buses on College Green (Image: DCC/NTA)
IMAGE: Mixing bicycles and buses on College Green (Image: DCC/NTA)

SHARING GONE WRONG: Galway’s bicycle sharing system as was reported to have had a slowed take off than in Cork and Limerick. Campaigners in Galway blamed the issues on the removal of key planned stations before the system’s launch and Galway city centre’s many one-way streets. Using Freedom of Information we found out how there is an expansion plan which may help.

MIXING WITH BUSES: Detailed designs confirmed that plans for College Green and Dame Street include continued mixing of bicycles and buses, despite the city’s development plan looking for cycling for all ages (although the line was for some reason not included in the new draft city plan).


IMAGE: TD suggested police escort to ATMs for misbehaving cyclists (Photo:

PAY NOW: Strange got stranger as a TD said he wants Gardai (Irish police) to escort bicycle users to ATMs for fine payments — a suggesting out of whack with the system for motorists and likely unconstitutional.

CYCLING IS OUR ONLY HOPE: As deeper cuts to Irish transport emission were agreed on to protect farming, we gave 10 reasons why cycling is Ireland’s only hope for low-carbon transport.

ALL AGES AND ABILITIES: The current Dublin city development plan includes the great phrase: “The vision for cycling is to make Dublin a city where people of all ages and abilities have the confidence, incentive and facilities to cycle so that by 2017, 25-30% of all new commutes within the city will be by bike.” We use it a lot when referring to substandard cycle route plans, but for some reasons nothing like it is included in the new draft plan.

PLEASE NOTE: Cycling deaths on Irish roads are excluded here because these will be covered in a separate article.

Top 25 articles by views:

Headline Views
1 IMAGES: 25 reasons why cyclists don’t use cycle lanes 25424
2 Cycling fines: What you need to know from August 1 14310
3 IMAGES: Athlone to Mullingar Greenway set to open within weeks 10330
4 High-vis can’t solve drivers’ inattentional blindness and its promotion has failed 7754
5 15 bicycle traffic offences to be covered by on-the-spot fines this July 7729
6 No exemption for children cycling on footpaths says minister ahead of new fines 5381
7 Here’s why we should not ignore self-proclaimed “cyclist haters” 4248
8 Protected cycle path concept dropped in favor of painted cycle lanes on Amiens St to Clontarf route 3867
9 How to bring bicycles on public transport* 3862
10 Child carrying options* 2654
11 12 reasons why the Liffey Cycle Route should be supported 2469
12 Sindo columnist thinks powerful cyclists are conspiring…  2217
13 Was it all for this? Irish Times cycling deaths coverage ends with ranting, victim-blaming editorial 2115
14 12 reasons critics are wrong on Dublin’s traffic plan 2045
15 Castlebar to Turlough greenway to open this Friday 2022
16 Cycle lanes and cycle paths to form part of more people-centric Waterford city centre 1835
17 Cycling fines will not cover bicycle helmets or high-vis says Gardai 1760
18 Arnotts’ CEO rallies businesses against Dublin city transport plan 1683
19 Road Safety Authority criticised over not following its own Rules of the Road on cycle lanes 1661
20 Public to have say on four options for Liffey Cycle Route 1511
21 Gardai planning blitz tackling bicycle offenders from August 1 1428
22 TD wants Gardai escorting bicycle users to ATMs for fine payment 1422
23 Councillor objecting to cycle route on “mental health grounds is a serial objector to cycle paths” 1400
24 Push to secure contra-flow cycling on key Dublin streets fails by one vote 1383
25 39,000 people commute regularly by bicycle in Dublin – Census* 1371

* = published before 2015



  1. What stands out for me is the lack of any coherence to government or road authority policies towards promoting a modal-shift away from cars to walking or cycling. You would be hard pressed to find any statement or press release from our ministers for transport, health, environment or justice about the climate-change necessity for decarbonisation of the transport system, making cycling safer for all and how it is to be achieved in any meaningful way within the timespan of the NCPF (runs out in 2020).
    It’s the lack of leadership that stands out. Keep on truckin as usual is the motto; sure aren’t we the best small country in the world in which to do business.
    Our police force continues to display scant regard for the real road safety needs of cyclists thinking that handing out hi-vis vest on street corners is active road safety. It has no understanding of dangerous overtaking (speed/distance) or why cycle tracks are there for cyclists safety and not for business as usual purposes by motorised drivers.
    As for the RSA …..!


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