Build it, and they’ll come applies to cycling… but, Dublin hasn’t actually built it yet and ‘it’ needs to be connected and of high-quality

Comment & Analysis: Build it, and they’ll come applies to cycling; we have seen a large increase in cycling in places like London and Paris. But Dublin hasn’t actually built it yet, and ‘it’ needs to be connected and of high quality.

Videos like this are common from those cities and others which were never really seen as cycling cities before networks of safe routes were started to be built:

It is important to stress that these cities have started to build their networks—some people visit on holidays and say they didn’t see the transformation. But the city’s partly built networks are useful enough to increase cycling. They are ahead of Dublin while still being a work in progress.

Le Monde reported towards the end of 2023 that “In Paris, use of cycle paths has doubled in one year.” The newspaper said, “It’s a phenomenon visible to the naked eye: there are more and more cyclists in the Parisian streets, and the facilities are increasingly cramped.”

However, in Dublin, according to draft figures published on this website yesterday, the number of people cycling (and walking) into Dublin City Centre at rush hour is still 28% lower than before Covid. At the same time, bus use has exceeded its pre-pandemic levels, and Luas use has recovered. The picture is complicated: cycling and walking grew by 3% year on year while car use decreased by 2%.

The Census data published last year showed that there was an increase of over 7,110 extra people cycling as their main mode of transport in Dublin City and its Suburbs between 2016 and 2022. This, however, is likely to include cycling trips within suburbs, shorter trips such as children cycling to school, and trips even within the city centre or around it without crossing the canal count area.

But why has cycling into the city centre not recovered yet?

There may be all sorts of complicated reasons for this, including the now cheap-as-chips 90 Minute Fare using Leap card, which allows free transfers on bus/tram/rail within an hour and a half, and the fare capping which means you have free extra travel after a certain point.

The 90-Minute Fare is just €2 for adults, €1 for young adults and students, and 65 cent for children and 18-year-olds. The weekly fare cap for Dublin Bus, for example, is €22 for adults and €11 for most young adults and students.

But one of the main reasons in Dublin is that not only has the network for cycling still to be built, but Dublin still has no segregated cycle path in both directions at any entry point to the city centre.

As covered yesterday, that situation is due to change within months as the Clontarf to City Centre project nears its final phases. It was, in the inbound directly only, around 95% opened in December last year, after the traffic count.

The interim Liffey Cycle Route and Chesterfield Ave cycle route in Phonix Park nearly got there before the Clontarf route, but these routes are not segregated at the point where they meet, which is also a count location. Both routes are also not segregated at other significant points along their routes, making both non-continuous routes.

The City Centre Transport Plan allows for greater reallocation of space and a building out of the small connected network, which is growing. At the moment, too many of the higher-quality cycle paths are fragmented.

But not only is the city centre plan an opportunity for cycling, but rather cycling can play a significant part in making the plan work. Cycling is a tool for better cities rather than an end goal. But if Dublin wants people to hop on their bikes like in Paris, Dublin first needs to provide safe and attractive routes.

A lot of work is needed to connect what’s in place, improve what’s in place, and extend the network. There seems to be a focus at the city council level on some quicker-build routes, but it’s not clear that the urgent matches the ambition.

In many cases, it’s not even about larger projects. For example, for some reason, there has been a real lack of urgency in creating a link from the quays to Capel Street northbound.

Braver action will also need to be taken to link areas that are currently not well served. A good start for the southwest of the city centre would be linking the new cycle path on James’s Walk (beside Jamess Hospital) to Thomas Street and the quays in a high-quality way. For example, using a modal filter or two on Thomas Court.

BusConnects can be used as an excuse for the main routes into the city centre, but there’s still a lot that could be done between those NTA routes. The James Walk route could be linked to the existing low-traffic street at Grangegorman, and, on the east side of the city, the planned upgrade of the Dodder Greenway route could be linked into the city centre via Shelbourne Road and Grand Canal Street Lower.

In other words, it involves a lot of what the city council is already planning but connecting it quicker with a bit more focus on quality. If it’s not done faster, the questions about why cycling isn’t growing will quickly mount.


  1. The number of people who cycle in Ireland despite the lack of proper cycling lanes is astonishing. Ireland could be the number one nation when we count the number of cyclists per kilometer of cycling lanes

  2. Lines of white paint and plastic wands are not cycling infrastructure. Narrow cycle lanes that disappear at junctions are not safe or adequate. Shared bus and cycle lanes are not safe cycling infrastructure. Build segregated cycle lanes that children would be safe on, that are wide enough for non-standard cycles. That is what is needed.


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