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By Samuel R. Avro on Apr 29, 2009 with no responses

Ireland Aims to Have 160,000 Commute to Work by Bicycle

The Irish are looking to increase the number of people that make it a habit to commute to work by bike.

The Irish are looking to increase the number of people that make it a habit to commute to work by bike.

Commuters in Ireland are being encouraged by the government to begin commuting to work by bicycle, in an effort to conserve energy and free up the gridlocked capital of Dublin.

Noel Dempsey, the Minister for Transport, launched the National Cycle Policy Framework last week, which is meant to drastically increase the number of people who cycle each day from 35,000 to 160,000 in a little over a decade – an increase of more than 400 percent.

“Today, less than 2% of all commuters travel to work by bike despite the fact that over 100,000 people drive less than 4km to work in Dublin alone. We have to increase this number and I am committing the necessary resources to make that happen,” Dempsey said.

The National Cycling Policy Framework also calls for safe cycle routes to be introduced to schools, safe cycling skills to be taught to 140,000 children in classrooms, better bike parking facilities and a shared-bicycle scheme for cities with a population over 100,000.

From 1986 until 2006 the number of bike riders in Ireland slipped immensely.

In 1986 roughly 7% of all trips to the workplace were done by bike. By 2006 that number had fallen to just 2%. While more than 23,000 primary school children traveled to school by bike in 1986, that number fell to just above 4,000 in 2006.

The government’s effort is aimed at increasing that number by making the streets more practical for bikers and bringing back the old bike-to-school days for the young.

Dublin alone will receive €3 million (nearly $4 million) to provide for new and friendlier bike routes alone.

“Cyclists matter,” the Transport Minister said. “Just like other road users they deserve a safer, easier traveling experience and that’s what I want to deliver through the 109 individual actions set out in this Ireland’s First National Cycle Policy.

“We are all familiar with the hassle of lengthening journey times and traffic congestion as well as the harmful effects of greenhouse gas emissions from vehicles.

National Bike Week, planned for the week of June 14, is being launched in the hope that it will bring awareness to the issue.