Dublin City Council wants 25 percent of all trips in the city centre to be taken by bike and needs more ideas for how to get there.
Earlier this month, officials from the Smart City programme — alongside the Dublin Cycling Campaign, and Enterprise Ireland — said they have €100,000 to divvy up among organisations or individuals with techie ideas on how to help scale up cycling in the city.
In-house, the council doesn’t really have the resources for this, so they are looking for collaborations to bring in expertise, said Jamie Cudden who heads up the Smart City programme.
“There’s so many things that technology can help solve, but I suppose from a city perspective, we can’t do it alone,” he said.
Between 2006 and 2014, the number of cyclists crossing the canals increased by 114 percent, according to the annual counts. Or, to put it another way: of all the modes of transport crossing the canals during that morning peak hour, 2.3 percent were cyclists in 2006, while 5.4 percent were on bikes in 2014.
So the trend has been up.
But “there are lots of challenges in terms of how we can scale up cycling in cities, be it safety, be it security, be it just a lack of data in terms of what are the routes that we should be investing in, what is the pattern of cycling behaviour in the city, where are the hot-spots of accidents, you know,” Cudden said.
There are several gaps in data which seem to make it hard for officials to know what to invest where.
For a start, they seem to have only a hazy picture of the kinds of journeys that cyclists make around the city, even for those using schemes such as DublinBikes.
“Some of the newer city schemes have tracking devices, you can actually look at the actual routes people are taking. In the DublinBikes case, it really comes station-to-station, so you don’t get that level of data [on] where people go, how they are using the bikes,” said Cudden.
David Timoney, from the Dublin Cycling Campaign, has worked on the issue of bike theft and says there’s also a gap in data on how many bikes are stolen. “I’m not sure if there’s any technology solution to that,” he said.
Perhaps we need an easy solution to register bikes, which might help cyclists, as it would give Garda a better chance of reuniting bikes and owners, he said.
For some time, cycling advocates have complained about the lack of funding that has gone into growing cycling infrastructure. In the run-up to the general election this year, the Dublin Cycling Campaign called for 10 percent of the transport budget to be allocated to cycling.
“I think there’s a mismatch, or a bit of dishonesty, almost, between the policy and the funding,” said Timoney of the Dublin Cycling Campaign. “There’s loads of plans out there, there’s a fantastic cycling manual, but there isn’t the funding.”
The data and tech-centric ideas that come of the competition might better help cycling advocates to argue the business case for change they want to see, and for more investment, he said. “That’s what I’m hoping for, one of the things anyway.”
For those who are interested in applying, the deadline is 3 May, and anybody can go for it. It’s a straightforward application form, and you don’t have to have a VAT number or any of that kind of stuff, said Cudden.
During the application process, you will get a chance to engage with the city, and with the cycling campaign, he said, and you will be able to work out quickly whether your idea is worthwhile.