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Saturday 23 June 2018

Cycle to work numbers up 43pc - but this paints a 'false picture', says campaigner

Dr Mike McKillen from the Dublin Cycling Campaign
Dr Mike McKillen from the Dublin Cycling Campaign

Laura Lynott

The number of cyclists nationally rose by 43pc compared with the 2011 Census, but campaigners say the figures are not to be celebrated, as most commuters stay in their cars.

The number cycling to work rose to 56,837 in April 2016, and men accounted for three-quarters of those who got on their bike.

But two-thirds (38,870) of all cyclists were in Dublin city and suburbs while only 2,330 people cycled to work in Cork city and suburbs, 1,874 in Galway, 968 in Limerick and 395 in Waterford.

Dr Mike McKillen, spokesman for the Dublin Cycling Campaign, said that while the statistics appeared impressive, all was not what it seemed.

"These figures come from a very low base," Mr McKillen said. "Three per cent cycle nationally, but in 1996, 6.8pc of working commuters went by bike and in 1991, 5.5pc of workers cycled to work.

"And the CSO increase of 43pc only shows the rise from the previous CSO report in 2011, so we see actually when we take this into account how far we have still to go."

Ireland signed the Paris Agreement in 2015 along with 195 other countries as part of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change.

The Government pledged to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by at least 40pc by 2030 compared with 1990 levels.

However, the levels of commuters driving or being transported in a car - almost 66pc of the country's three million commuters - gives an insight into how much pollution is being pumped into the environment on a daily basis.

"It's great to see some progress but the figures are too low in relation to the Paris Agreement commitments we have made as a country and with the EU to curtail our trips by car and greenhouse emissions," Dr McKillen said.

"There's no way we can meet those targets we agreed to.

"If you look at the Netherlands, practically the entire workforce cycles to work," he added.

"Some people need a van to work but commuters going to an office don't need to drive if it's nearby.

"The State has to drive the housing market and stop the massive greenhouse gas emissions resulting from so many people in cars."

Irish Independent

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