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Mapping commute times by bicycle, car and public transport shows that across almost all of Dublin, cycling is the quickest way to reach the city centre.

The pressure on Dublin’s transport network has been widely reported. It’s been thrown into relief, again, by debate around the planned Metrolink and the Project Ireland 2040 infrastructure strategy.

Analysis we did here at University College Dublin shows that the average Dublin city-centre commuter could save 86 hours a year by switching their car for a bicycle.

That’s the equivalent of five days of waking hours that could be spent with family on hobbies or even just getting on top of emails.

We mapped rush-hour commute times, as predicted by Google Maps, and compared driving, public transport, and cycling across Dublin into the city centre.

On the map, which you can also see full-screen here, hover over the turquoise diamond near the top right to see the legend, and to toggle between comparisons of cycle vs car, or cycle vs public transport.

Then click on an area on the map to get a pop-up that shows the specific time it takes to cycle, drive or ride from there to the centre, as well as giving a “legend” number that matches a level of time difference in the map’s legend.

Travel times were taken from the central points of electoral districts across the city, travelling to O’Connell Street at 8am on 16 April.

Car travel was taken as the average journey time given by Google Maps. Cycling times are based on an average speed of 19 kph, taking the fastest route and using cycle paths where available.

Cycling was quickest across nearly all of the city and surrounding suburbs compared to both driving and public transit.

Even in the city’s outskirts, cycling remains more efficient. As far out as Bohernabreena, which is 14km away, a commuter could save 19 minutes traveling into the city by bike compared with by car or by public transport.

Tallaght residents would save the most time; it’s an average of 30 minutes faster by bike than by car. And, one-way, this journey would burn an average of 292 Kcal (or six pieces of chocolate), according to the TFI Cycle Route Planner.

North Dublin (areas such as Ballymun, Ballygall, Beaumont) appears to suffer particularly poor travel times by car, with most time savings by bike in the region of 15 to 21 minutes.

These data raise the question: why do only 38,870 out of 512,000 commuters commute by bike, according to the 2016 census?

Phil McCarthy, a resident of Tallaght who used to cycle but now takes the bus, said he made this travel choice because of safety concerns.

“It is too scary,” he says. “If we had a segregated cycle route to the city centre I would start cycling again. It is so much faster by bike.”

Darragh Hulgraine, who lives in Rathfarnham and chooses to take public transport, blames the poor weather, the “terrible condition” of the roads and the “inadequate shower and changing facilities in my office”.

Katie Elston, a resident of Tallaght who cycles to work, also saw office facilities as an issue. “Our office only has one shower, so that can get pretty hectic if you’re a little late in the morning,” she said.

The government’s 2018 budget allowed for €3 million to be spent on cycling infrastructure, but it appears that lack of facilities and safe routes remains problematic.

Niall Bolger of the Environment and Transportation Department of Dublin City Council says changing how space in the city is used has an immediate impact. But “some people feel they have something to lose as we are asking them to change their behaviour”, he says.

“The tendency is we get a lot of strong opposition to any proposed scheme. Unfortunately those who support schemes tend to be less vocal,” he says.

Although cycling isn’t possible or practical for all, everybody benefits from less traffic and cleaner air.

The Project Ireland 2040 strategy promises to deliver a “comprehensive cycling and walking network for Ireland’s cities”, but no funds have been directly allocated to this project in the report, unlike for the proposed public-transport investment.

The cycling network routes in Dublin are currently classified as primary, secondary or tertiary, and the National Transport Authority is prioritising upgrades for the primary routes.

There’s nothing we can do about the weather. But there’s plenty of other improvements we can make, to help people spend less time on the road.

Eoin Collins, Marco Navio Ruiz and Beth Neal as part of their MA in Geopolitics,

Marco Navio Ruiz and Beth Neal as part of their MA in Geopolitics, and Sean Slevin in MSc. Urban Envir

Beth Neal as part of their MA in Geopolitics, and Sean Slevin in MSc. Urban Environment, with support and guidance from Dr Eoin O'Mahony of UCD and Dubl

Sean Slevin in MSc. Urban Environment, with support and guidance from Dr Eoin O'Mahony of UCD and Dublin Inquirer Managing Editor Lois Kapila.

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  1. When you compare how may many car-cycling red areas there are compared to how few transit-cycling red areas there are, it really is a damning indictment of how poorly we prioritise public transport. Networking, road priority, and enforcement of road priority are absent in Dublin.

    Also, it’s interesting that the only place in the city where transit time is faster than cycling, is from Dun Laoighaire/Rathdown…

  2. And of course with dedicated cycle lanes those times would be reduced a lot further as feeling safer would allow cyclists to increase speed.

    Unfortunately all the reports in the world seem to have no interest to DCC – cars can still park where they like when they throw a hazard light on blocking ‘bike lanes’ (white lines) and cycle lanes still disappear between 10-12pm and at weekends in many areas of hogh congestion.

  3. Excellent! Doing a relevant study myself on the factors that affect the usage of a dublinbike! Is there a research paper I can read

  4. The problem is not purely with DCC and the other authorities. Most, if not all, cycling infrastructure is vociferously objected to by companies like Brown Thomas and organisations like Dublin Town and the AA. It is hard for bodies like the councils, who are supposed to represent the people of the city, to do something in the face of strong, well funded protests claiming that a cycle lane or bus corridor will destroy the city and kill children.

    It seems that unless there is some way to improve facilities for walking, cycling and public transport without negatively impacting motorists in any way at all every measure will be fought tooth and nail.

    Just look at the grim saga (or is it a farce) of the north quays cycle route.

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