Walking and Cycling takes 330,000 cars off the road every day in the Dublin Metropolitan Area, according to the 2021 Walking and Cycling Index launched today by the Minister for Transport Eamon Ryan TD, the Deputy Lord Mayor of Dublin, Joe Costello, and Anne Graham, CEO National Transport Authority (NTA). If all these cars were in a traffic jam, they would tail back about 1600km – more than the distance from Dublin to Skibbereen and back, twice over.
The Walking and Cycling Index (previously the Bike Life report) is the largest assessment of walking and cycling in urban areas in Ireland and is produced by sustainable transport charity Sustrans in partnership with city authorities and the NTA. It is based on local walking and cycling data, modelling and an independent survey of more than 1,100 residents from across the Dublin Metropolitan Area.
The launch of this report coincides with Bike Week 2022, which runs from Saturday May 14 to Sunday May 22. Bike Week is an annual celebration, with over 600 special events planned across the country, including family events, heritage cycles, maintenance workshops, and learn-to-cycle events.
Growing Importance of Active Travel
The latest Walking and Cycling Index reveals that 95% of residents in Dublin walk or wheel (meaning the use of a wheelchair or mobility scooter) with 64% of residents walking or wheeling at least 5 days per week, and 25% cycling at least once a week. These figures highlight the importance and reach of the investments made by the NTA into active travel infrastructure. This compares to 38% of people who use a car at least five or more days each week.
The benefits of walking and cycling to the Dublin area are also outlined in the report, with the physical activity benefits of walking and cycling preventing 589 early deaths annually which is valued at €2.89bn.
The Index found that only 53% of people with a disability walk or wheel at least five days a week, compared to 65% of people without a disability. Similarly for cycling, 27% of people without a disability cycle at least once a week while only 8% of people with a disability cycle once a week.
While walking participation is somewhat gender neutral – 66% of women walked or wheel at least 5 days a week, compared to 61% of men, cycling is still predominately male with 33% of men cycling at least once a week while only 18% of women cycle at least once a week.
Safe Space for Cycling
The report found that people increasingly feel that cycling safety is improving, with 65% of all residents stating that they think the level of safety for cycling in their local areas is good, which is an increase from 47% from 2019. Similarly, 86% of residents think the level of safety for walking is good.
There is evidence too that people support the development of cycle infrastructure within the Dublin Metropolitan Area, as 71% of surveyed residents support building more cycle tracks physically separated from traffic and pedestrians, even where that means less room for other traffic. This is a positive indication that the people of Dublin continue to be supportive of the measures needed to make it an integral part of transport in our society.
Creating a Better Place to Live
The Walking and Cycling Index also recognises the importance of our neighbourhoods. A total of 84% of residents support the creation of 20-minute neighbourhoods where amenities and services, such as shops, green space and GPs are located within a twenty-minute return walk or wheel of where they live. Currently, 23% of households are outside of a twenty-minute return from a food shop by foot, the index finds.
Six out of ten people (60%) agree that closing streets outside local schools to cars during drop-off and pick-up times would improve their local area. In addition, 79% of people think that an increase in places to stop and rest and 76% think that more frequent road crossings with less wait times would help them walk or wheel more.
Minister Eamon Ryan said: “The Walking and Cycling Index 2021 is packed with good news about the amount of walking, wheeling and cycling that is already an integral part of Dublin life. It is remarkable to read that 95% of all residents in the Metropolitan Area walk and one in four of us cycle at least once a week, with high numbers doing so at least five times a week. This is good for our health and wellbeing, our neighbourhoods, the city generally and the environment overall. Crucially, however, this report is also helping us build a picture of what people need, gaps in infrastructure and how we can improve things further – so that we can make it more attractive for even more people to choose walking, wheeling and cycling in years to come.“
Anne Graham National Transport Authority CEO said: “More people than ever want to cycle and walk as part of their daily journey. That’s why the NTA has been partnering with local authorities to invest in better infrastructure. Between 2019 and 2021, we’ve added 43km of new protected cycle routes alone with an additional 200km of cycle lanes to be developed as part of the BusConnects programme.
“The latest Index reinforces the importance of encouraging more people to engage in active travel by making cycling easier and safer. With 69,000 tonnes of greenhouse gas emissions saved each year through people choosing to walk instead to drive in the city, we have a unique opportunity to create more sustainable and inclusive communities not only in Dublin but across Ireland.”
Caroline Bloomfield, Sustrans Northern Ireland Director said: “At Sustrans our mission is to make it easier for people to walk and cycle and I am therefore delighted see how active travel is developing in Dublin. The numbers walking and cycling highlight the importance of investment in good infrastructure to make it easier and more attractive to travel actively. Better infrastructure creates more pleasant neighbourhoods, as well as enabling healthier lifestyles and benefitting the environment. We look forward to continuing our work with the NTA to measure the multiple benefits of active travel.”
Click here to view the 2021 Walking and Cycling Index