Recession-hit Irish urged to get back on bikes

April 25, 2009

DUBLIN (AFP) -— Irish commuters were urged to abandon their beloved cars and switch back to pedal power as the government unveiled the country's first national cycling policy.

The initiative aims to achieve a five-fold increase in bike use and free up the traffic-thronged streets of Dublin.
During over a decade of “Celtic Tiger” economic growth sales of cars soared but commuter cycling plummeted to less than two percent.
The number of children using bikes to get to first level schools has plunged 83 percent in 20 years, down from 23,600 in 1986, to 4,100 in 2006.
Transport Minister Noel Dempsey pledged 109 integrated actions that will be taken over the next 12 years would deliver “a culture of safe cycling”.
Snarled-up roads in the centre of Dublin mean that cyclists reach an average speed of 12 kilometers per hour (7.5 miles per hour) compared to just 15 kph for cars.
“Cyclists matter,” Dempsey said. “Today, less than two percent of all commuters travel to work by bike despite the fact that over 100,000 people drive less than four kilometers (2.5 miles) to work in Dublin alone.”
He said there had never been a better time to boost cycling.
“We are all familiar with the hassle of lengthening journey times and traffic congestion as well as the harmful effects of greenhouse gas emissions from vehicles.”
“Equally we are aware of the health benefits of pursuing more active lifestyles. That's why a return to the bike can make very real sense,” Dempsey said.