The international verdict on cycling in Dublin is in - and it’s not good news for the capital city.
Velo-City, an international cycling conference came to a close today in Dublin, 14 years after the event was first held in the city.
Chief executive of Dublin City Council, Owen Keegan, had said that hosting Velo-City in 2005 “proved a catalyst for cycling growth in the city”. However, comments from international delegates over the past week have not been complementary to the capital’s cycling infrastructure.
In a further blow to Dublin’s cycling reputation, it was announced this week that the capital has once again failed to make the top 20 ranking of bicycle-friendly cities in the world.
Dublin was ninth in the Copenhagenize Index in 2011, but last featured in the list in 2017.
Social media comments from delegates attending the conference point to some of the reasons why Dublin is falling behind as a cyclist safe haven.
“Cycled in 30+ cities, mostly in Europe. Dublin definitely the worst for safe cycle provision,” Brian Salmon from the UK tweeted.
Even the best protected path along the banks of the River Liffey spits you out at random intervals into oncoming traffic.
Simon Fessard from Paris described cycling in Irish traffic as “chaotic” - a verdict backed by Saskia Ellenbeck from Germany.
“Oh my God, that was quite an experience to get to Velo-City by bike this morning. So many near-misses in such a short time. With this kind of infrastructure you have to be a warrior to get through,” Ms Ellenbeck tweeted.
Klaus Bondam, CEO of The Danish Cyclists' Federation and former deputy mayor of Copenhagen, criticised Dublin City Council’s lack of commitment to new safe segregated bicycle [infrastructure] and added that “the physical absence of Dublin and Irish high-level politicians except at photo opp’s [sic] has been noticed”.
“Several other European mayors have attended for several days,” he said.
“First experience of Dublin cycle network. Not easy!” Ward Segers, a tourism project coordinator from Belgium said.
Dr Tara Goddard, assistant professor of Urban Planning at Texas A&M said Dublin has more bus traffic than anywhere she has been: “My hypothesis: lack of regional rail (many seem to be regional express routes) plus tourist buses plus city system. Really challenging for bicycling. What world cities have this same level of coach traffic?”
“Riding Custom House Quay was one of the least comfortable rides I've done. The separated bikeway drops repeatedly into major bus stops. The Swords Express buses were the worst, but the infra that doesn't do something like take bicyclists behind floating bus stops is to blame,” she said.
Mikaël Van Eeckhoudt from Belgium quoted Mr Bondam’s presentation to delegates at the conference:
"I have seen a lot of fit young men on bikes, in lycra and fluo [fluorescent clothing] and wearing helmets. I have not seen the infrastructure that makes other people, like me, feel safe in Dublin. So get your things done Dublin", he said.
Tim Burns from Perth Australia said Dublin is a lot like his home city, but with more cyclists.
“First impressions of Dublin. Wide footpaths, bad cycle lanes,” he said.