National Bike Week – “Vive le Vélo!”
National Bike Week, an annual event which involves a diverse range of cycling activities all over Ireland, is almost upon us and now is an excellent time to take stock and consider recent progress in encouraging more people to cycle.
Cycling Mode ShareCycling mode share has increased in recent years, however from a very low base, and after many years of decline. Latest census data indicates a 9.6% increase in the number of commuters cycling nationally between 2006 and 2011 (to 39,803), although it is important to note that cyclists accounted for only 2.4% of overall commuter trips in 2011
Smarter Travel PolicySmarter Travel, A Sustainable Transport Future: A New Transport Policy for Ireland 2009-2020, was developed by the Department of Transport as a response to unsustainable population and economic growth patterns prevalent in Ireland at the end of the 20th and start of 21st century. The policy document sets out a large number of actions needed to achieve a sustainable transport network in Ireland up to 2020. Underpinning the policy is a target of 160,000 people cycling (9-10%) for their daily commute by 2020, up from 36,306 (2.1%) in 2006. But is this target too ambitious? Do we need to revise it to something more realistic? Instinctively, it does feel very ambitious but then again, 2006 was a low point for cycle use in Ireland – by comparison, 7.2% of commuters cycled to work in 1986. Significant improvements in cycle infrastructure and promotion have taken place since 2006:
- Cycle lane improvements, including schemes following NTA’s revised design guidance, set out within the National Cycle Manual, published in 2011; and
- Smarter Travel Initiatives, a National Transport Authority programme, with inter-related workplace, schools and campus travel planning strands, supporting commuters in choosing more sustainable transport options.
Low Carbon Roadmap / Climate ChangeA Low Carbon Roadmap for the Transport Sector is under development by the Department of Transport Tourism and Sport (DTTAS) and seeks to assist in meeting Ireland’s obligations under EU law. Under climate change targets, Ireland is legally bound to reduce overall emissions, however a recent EPA report has identified achieving reductions in agriculture and transport as particularly challenging, with emissions from the latter sector expected to increase by 9% by 2020. Ensuring our legal carbon reduction obligations underpin transport policy is essential if transport is to contribute to national reductions in CO2 emissions. With the help of renewed smarter travel policy initiatives, we can as a sector contribute to meeting these targets – “vive le vélo!”
 Ireland’s EU target is to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from transport, agriculture, residential, waste and non-energy intensive industry by 20 per cent by 2020 (compared to emissions for 2005).