Nearly 100k people commute by bicycle daily in Ireland, with large jump in children cycling

— Number of people commuting by bicycle to work is back at 1986 level.
88% more primary school children, 79% more teens commuting by bike since 2016.
— More children cycling to primary school now than in the mid-90s.

The number of people cycling in Ireland to work and education daily in 2022 has nearly recovered to the near-100,000 level last seen at the start of the Celtic Tiger years in 1996 according to Census data released today.

The number of people cycling to work alone has recovered to the level it was at in 1986, with the difference being fewer children and younger adults cycling to school or third-level institutions compared to the 1980s.

The data is included in the Central Statistics Office’s release of the Census 2022 summary results covering commuting. A more detailed area breakdown, including geographical differences, should be available on November 30, 2023.

The recovery counts the actual number of people, although cycling still has to catch up in percentage terms as there are 1.4 million extra commuters today compared to 1996. The Celtic Tiger boom years saw car ownership, car use and road building shoot up at a rapid pace while cycling declined.

The CSO said that the number of people who drove to work increased by 4% to 1.2 million between 2016 and 2022.

The level of cycling overall increased by 18.4% between 2016 and 2022, now making up 2.9% of commuters nationally — this is higher in cities, a breakdown of which will be released later this year.

There was also a large increase in the number of people who worked from home at least some days of the week, up 173% to nearly 260,000. This is viewed by transport agencies as linked to 4% fewer people commuting to work by train, Luas or Dart. Although, at the same time, the number of people commuting by bus has increased by 3.5% to 323,923.

The Census only counts people’s main mode of transport to work or education. This means if people cycle one or two days a week and get the bus or drive the days, the cycling trips aren’t counted in the Census. Another example is that a cycle at the start or end of a train or bus commute is not counted when the train or bus trip is the longer part of the commute.

The Central Statistics Office (CSO) said: “In 2022, there were 88% more primary school children commuting by bicycle than in 2016, and the number of students aged 13 to 18 cycling to school was up 79%.”

“The dominant form of transport for school children remained the car with 55% of primary school and 42% of secondary school children being driven or driving to school,” the CSO said.

The number of people commuting to work by bicycle also increased, 6.7% between 2016 and 2022. Although this is a lower increase than children, it’s from a higher base level.

But the number of third-level students using bicycles decreased along with walking, while more of them drove and took public transport. Students unions this year highlighted that many students have been forced into longer commutes due to the shortage of and price of rental accommodation.

Correction: This article originally said that further data would be available next month, the Population Distribution and Movement data is due next month, while the Employment, Occupations and Commuting will only be advisable at the end of November.

Data from the 2022 Census summary covering commuting, and Cencus table FY079.


  1. This is good news on the cycling. However, there’s a lot of improvement to be made still. And as you pointed out in your article, there are a lot more people in the country than in the 1980s and so the overall percentages of people cycling is still lagging behind the 1980s.

    Another thing that’s being missed by the data is that a lot more people are working from home and these people often take advantage of their time flexibility to make many more car trips during the day than they would have done if they worked at a defined office location. This means that there’s much more of a smear of overall car-traffic volumes throughout the day compared to the traditional morning and evening rush-hours (this is what I’ve noticed since the lock-downs in 2020).


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