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Anthony Fox wants to see a continuous bike lane that runs across the city, from Fairview Strand, through Ballybough, down Summerhill Parade, into Parnell Street.
“All the arteries into the city should have proper bicycle lanes (…). It’s just not adequate at all,” said Fox, a theatre director. He said he’s taken his kids off their bikes because it just doesn’t seem safe at the moment for them to ride.
“It doesn’t cost a lot to put down a lane and some tar or whatever they put down,” he said.
He’s got a point. If you are a cyclist who wants to stick to cycle lanes as you try to get across the city, you’d likely find it tough on most routes, as the map above illustrates. (We stole the idea for this visualisation from an old Washington Post article.)
Dublin City Council officials say they want 25 percent of all trips in the city centre to be taken by bike. A 2013 report to the National Transport Authority set out a plan to grow the network in the Dublin City Council area from 169 km to 302 km.
At press time, the council hadn’t provided details of how many cycle lanes have been installed in the last few years in the city, information we’d requested on 24 March.
While the lanes on the map above date back to December 2013, the situation has not changed much, said Sara Morris, a spokesperson for the NTA.
Part of the problem is that, despite a ramp-up in talk about the need to increase the number of journeys by bike, the money just hasn’t followed.
In fact, there has been “a very dramatic slow-down in terms of the grants from the National Transport Authority,” said Green Party councillor Ciaran Cuffe, who also heads the council’s Transport Strategic Policy Committee.
“We’re very dependent on the NTA for funding. Any reduction in that funding can be seen on the streets,” he said.
It’s also not just about putting any old cycle lanes in. Of the 252 submissions so far to our crowd-sourced cycle-collision tracker, 55 mentioned they were in, or trying to follow, a cycle lane when they had a collision or a near-miss.
One of them, graphic designer Sarah McLoone, said she used to commute 95 percent of the time when she worked in Sandyford. The route between her Rathmines home and her Sandyford workplace had a great cycle lane, she said.
Since she got a new job in Dun Laoghaire, though, she’s cut that down to about 20 percent of the time, she said. There’s one spot where the cycle lane disappears that terrifies her.
The new cycle lane in Blackrock village is brilliant and the old one it transitions to is fine, she said. But “you keep going down the road to Vincent’s Hospital, and the bike lane completely ends, totally – just nothing.”
The lane becomes a left-turning lane for cars, and if you’re headed straight on a bike, it becomes a bus lane/taxi lane/cycle lane, and there’s a petrol station entrance and exit thrown into the mix.
McLoone gave up the cycle commute for three weeks when a taxi driver almost clipped her. “It’s quite a harrowing affair every day,” she said.
From there, the bike lane appears, disappears and then reappears again along the way to Rathmines. “It’s this nonsense of like 10 metres of bike lane, to 50 yards, and then nothing again,” she said.