Rain is reason for Ireland’s high car use claims Minister Ross

— Government accused of lack of vision on cycling.

— Half of all particulate matter air pollution from cars comes from breaking and tyre dust.

Despite most of the population of Ireland living in areas which have lower or similar yearly rain fall as Amsterdam and Copenhagen, transport minister Shane Ross claimed yesterday that rain was the main reason people in Ireland are wedded to their cars.

Ross made the comments in a glowing endorsement of electric cars made exactly two months to the day after a top UK environmental health adviser said in The Guardian that electric cars are not the solution to air pollution which is linked to making health conditions worse and thousands of premature deaths a year.

“Our cities need fewer cars, not just cleaner cars. One issue is that electric vehicles will not sufficiently reduce particulate matter (PM), the other toxic pollutant emitted by road transport. This is because PM components include not only engine emissions, but also a contribution from brake and tyre wear and road surface abrasion. Governments don’t currently pay much attention to PM, but it is in fact highly polluting, with strong links to cardiopulmonary toxicity,” said Frank Kelly, professor of environmental health at Kings College London and chair of the UK government’s advisory committee on the medical effects of air pollutants.

The World Health Organisation stares that there is no safe limit of tiny pollution particles, and a recent European commission research paper found around half of particulate matter comes from these sources.

In scripted comments for the 2017 Electric Vehicle Summit in Croke Park yesterday, Minister Shane Ross (independent) said: “Currently, the car remains the dominant choice of transport in Ireland. The rain may have something to do with this. We like the comfort and the privacy. But a whopping 74% of all journeys are taken by car. Far too many. These journeys account for half of all our transport emissions.”

“Obviously, the constant improvements in public transport are designed to encourage people to leave the car at home and travel by bus, Dart, Luas or on the new cycle lanes and Greenways being developed. As well as being good for the environment this is also good for our basic health and fitness and as Minister I am committed to increasing the subvention for public transport annually and decreasing the use of fossil fuels in our public transport system,” said Minister Ross.

He added: “But many of us will still need to travel by private car and if we wish to continue doing so, we have to change what we put into it. This isn’t wishful thinking – no matter what the cynics say. The end of the age of the internal combustion engine is in sight. The shift to hybrids is already well under way. Many car manufacturers are producing new electric car models that will be far more affordable as well as more practical than earlier models.”

The lack of vision for cycling by the Government was criticised by Green Party leader Eamon Ryan. Writing in thejournal.ie this morning, Ryan said: “Paschal Donohoe says everything is fine, while Shane Ross doesn’t seem to realise he’s Minister for Transport. Our Taoiseach is into high end triathlon cycling but I’ve never heard a single idea from him about making the city a better place for the everyday cycling commuters.”

Ryan’s article said “After 25 years of polite argument and positive suggestions it’s time for the cycling campaign to step up a gear”.


  1. “Our Taoiseach is into high end triathlon cycling but I’ve never heard a single idea from him about making the city a better place for the everyday cycling commuters.”

    I think this hits an important nail on the head. Commuters and sports cyclists are very different creatures, and a lot of the time, we act as if they’re the same (I saw an Australian documentary where they posited that the lack of differentiation informs their helmet laws.)

    I think the Dutch and Danes would roll over laughing at the notion that weather is a factor. Has he seen the rainfall figures in those countries?

  2. The air quality on my commute to work has subjectively gotten worse over the last few years. And definitely gets much worse when schools are back (spike in car use). It’s disgusting that this poison is allowed to be pumped into the air I breathe by people who are too lazy to walk or cycle a few kilometers. And yes, most people in cars are driving only a few kilometers. Lazy fecking arses.

    And as far as air quality monitoring goes; the stations that are operating around the country don’t all measure all relevant pollutants important in human health. For info; see the link below, and take as an example the Marino monitoring site. That site only measures Pm2.5. That’s all, nothing else. No measuring of nitrous oxide or ozone or sulphur dioxide etc etc.


  3. The car industry (= money being pumped out of the country) has a huge influence. Not just on politics but on the media too – every newspaper and many online publications carry glamourising motoring supplements – even things like TheJournal and Broadsheet.ie.
    The AA, one of several organisations speaking for this industry, says that running a car costs some €11,000 a year. If even half of the families in Ireland shed the car and put that money into local work and goods, the economy would soar.
    Follow the money.

  4. Cian, please explain the meaning of “tire” dust.

    By any chance, do you mean “tyre”? If so, please amend and spell properly.

  5. Also; color, neighbor, specialize, and so on. More people spell tire with an ‘i’ than the way you spell it Aidan.

  6. I get increasingly tired of this “many of us need to use private cars” line. It is certainly true that some people do need this but the particular phrasing allows the majority of people who are wedded to their cars to assume that they are one of these people. I have to drop the kids to school…I need to drive the car. The local shop is a kilometer away….I need to drive the car. Sometimes I have to run errands during my lunch break…I need to drive the car. Sometimes I need to carry a laptop….I need to drive the car. And now…maybe it will rain….I need to drive the car.

    I think it is a small minority of people that actually need to drive and a large number of people who are confusing “want” with “need”.

    I have had people literally tell me that it is not possible to live in Dublin city without a car. People who know I don’t a car and yet am somehow still living in Dublin. This is typical, people know what they want to be true and will latch on to any claims, no matter how ludicrous, that support what they want to be true. We can’t cycle because of the rain is just another example.

  7. More people spell it “tire” than “tyre”. In fact, the British themselves mostly spelt it “tire” until the 19th century when for some reason they decided to resurrect the older spelling.

    On topic: Ross really isn’t engaged with his actual brief, is he?

  8. Tyre is standard British English spelling; tire is standard US spelling. Spell it wherever your little heart lives. Spell it bonn if you like.

    As for the rain, it looks a lot rainier from inside a car than it does from a bike.

  9. Hey ! I’m somehow living in Dublin City without a car too and manage to get around by bicycle, public transport and on foot. Occasionally I use car club share and very very rarely need to resort to taxis. Coming from a minister who has truly ignored the transport component of DTTS, this is pure spin and utter nonsense. It rains very little in Dublin City compared to elsewhere in the country. Here we have some weather myths being promoted to suit the motoring business vested interests. Dublin City needs a congestion charge and parking space levy to sort out this ongoing subsidizing of private car use by everybody else.

  10. …. encourage people to leave the car at home and travel by Greenways? Wishful thinking – most greenways have inadequate width, poor quality surface and no lighting. Zero chance of mass cycling.

  11. I cycled into town today from the red cow to Parnell st. I haven’t done it in years. Naas, Tyrconnell, Emmet roads, James st, High st. Down the hill to the quays and up Jervis st.
    I have to say that a lot of drivers were courteous, one or two jumped red lights.

    But the state of the infrastructure is Shocking. What passes for cycle lanes is nothing really. A bit of red paint on the side of the road, Huge potholes, shores that are elevated? Zero segregation. Something must be done.

  12. @Connor. And another thing is that even if it’s raining, sometimes it’s hardly much, and not worth getting changed into water-proofs. I cycle to work every day, at least an hour each way, and there are very few days when I really HAVE to put on water-proofs.


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