In Flann O’Brien’s great book, The Third Policeman, published 50 years ago this year, two of the characters, Sergeant Pluck and the policeman, Mac Cruiskeen, are obsessed with bicycles.
But in Clane, despite great and expensive national efforts to cut down on the use of the motor car and promote healthier pursuits like walking and cycling, progress on increased use of the bicycle is slow.
While the number of the Clane population travelling to work or school increased by 16% to 5,095 between 2011 and 2016, a Leader analysis of the means of transport from the Census shows that the take up of the bicycle is very low.
The use of the bicycle was much greater when O’Brien wrote his book in 1939 and 1940, but in 2016, the total number of those using the bike to travel to school or work was just 42 souls, up from 17 five years earlier.
While 719 more people took to the road in 2016, over five years earlier 32% of the new entrants, or 228 people, became car drivers.
The number of car passengers rose from 745 to 837, but just about a third of cars had a passenger in them in both 2011 and 2016.
Cyclists comprised just 3% of the increase while walkers comprised 16% of the increase.
Just under 14.9% of all travellers walked to their destinations in 2016, compared to 14.8% in 2011, the actual numbers rising from 647 to 761.
Of Clane’s foot soldiers last year, 81% are going to school or college, the rest to work.
Only 9.6% travellers in Clane (491) took bus in 2016, compared to 8.4% in 2011, an extra 125.