I was in Dublin during the day one Friday recently. I had parked my car in Heuston Station, and unhitched a Dublin Bike from its stand and cycled into the city centre.
As much as possible I always use Dublin Bikes, and on a day when the weather is fine, it’s a great way to get around.
And interesting consequence of using Dublin Bikes is that you come to realise, quite forcefully, that the city is much, much smaller than you thought it was.
An account with Dublin Bikes costs €10 per annum, which is simply taken from your credit card. The first half hour of any cycle is free, followed thereafter with a 50 centre charge per hour.
The average trip is only 18 minutes, which means that the vast majority of trips are free.
Apparently Dublin City Council has run into difficulty funding the scheme, which is why its further expansion has been halted. This is an awful pity because it’s a great great scheme, and is well used anywhere the bikes are installed.
Increasing the number of docking stations will only make the entire thing more and more used.
Studies have shown that there’s a corresponding drop in traffic congestion as a result of the installation of the bikes — and that additional docking stations also see an increase in the number of people using them and a corresponding
decrease in traffic congestion.
This should come as welcome news to all users of the streets in the capital.
Current thinking on congestion is changing, far too slowely, but changing all the same.
There was once a time when it was believed that bigger, wider and more roads was the answer to traffic jams.
Alas, a bit like the docking stations for the bikes, if you build them they will come. More roads means more cars.
Now it’s generally
accepted by many experts that the answer to congestion is to reduce the number of motorised vehicles on our roads.
This means more public transport and more bicycles. Andrew Gilligan, the former head of cycling infrastructure in London put it like this: “We need to replace the less efficient form of transport (cars) with the most (bikes).”
All of this was swirling through my head as I made my way home on Friday afternoon.
I got back in my car at 2.45pm. By 3.45pm I was at the Red Cow roundabout.
It was 4.40pm by the time I arrived back at the Leinster Leader offices, and that was probably because I got off the N7 at the Castlewarden and took to the back roads.
I wasn’t alone in that endeavour, which is why it took another half an hour to get me into Naas.
I wondered if there was some way I could have done the trip more efficiently. I considered getting the train from Sallins, except that the train times didn’t suit me, and I’m no fan of paid parking.
I also wondered if the proposed extra lane as far as the turn off for the M9 will have the desired effect, and concluded that it won’t.
That solution is predicated on the notion that the narrowing of traffic at the Naas Ball is the cause of the congestion. Except that there was traffic was slow from as far back as the Green Isle Hotel.
As all this was floating through my head I also recalled a report by Naas Neighbourhood Greenway that between 50 and 65 pupils of Naas CBS are now regularly cycling to school,an enormous increase on the numbers recorded in the not so distant past.
This is remarkable considering that cycling infrastructure is not terribly well developed in the town. Imagine how many would cycle if there were proper lanes.
It seems that despite the indifference of those in positions of authority, cycling is an idea whose time has finally come. Vive le vélo!