Cycling FAQ

Cycle Planning & Useful Information

The popularity of cycling in urban Ireland has dramatically increased over the last years. And, with Dublin bikes now readily available throughout Dublin and other major centres, getting around town quickly and affordably has never been easier. The below cycling frequently asked questions & answers detail how cycling can be of great benefit to your lifestyle.

Reliable, Flexible and Quicker Than You Think

Cycling gives you the control to ensure a reliable and fast journey time, to save money and to keep fit.

Cycling is a reliable transport option, your journey time is almost guaranteed.  Most people can cycle at an average 15km/hour, so 5km in about 20mins.

The National Transport Authority is developing a cycle route planner during 2012. This will help you plan and time your cycle trip.

  • The number of cyclists entering Dublin City has increased 42% over the period 2006 to 2011 (NTA report on the Canal Cordon Count Feb 2012)
  • 38% of Irish people travel less 5km to work….about a 20min cycle. 60% of Irish people travel less than 10km to work. (census 2006)

Good for Your Wallet

You’d be amazed by how much you spend on transport.

According to the AA Irelands 2011 survey of motoring costs, it now costs €11,817 a year to run a small family car in the 'Band C' tax category (typical engine size of 1251 – 1500cc); up by €646 on the figure for 2010.

You can easily get a good bike and kit it out for a fraction of that cost.  Once you’ve bought a bike your transport is free.  So aside from being healthier, benefiting from predictable journey times and helping the environment you save yourself a fortune by cycling.

Did you know that the cost of buying and maintaining a bike is approximately 1% the cost of buying and maintaining a car?

Good for Your Health

Cycling is good for you.

Studies show that regular cyclists are as fit as the average person 10 years younger, are less likely to suffer from depression and are more likely to sleep better. (From www.dublincitycycling.ie the Dublin City Council website)

The National Guidelines for Physical Activity say All adults need to accumulate moderate intensity aerobic activity for at least 30 minutes on five days a week. Building cycling into your day will help you achieve this every day, at every age, without even trying...The 30mins can be built up during the day for example by 2 x 15 minutes’ cycle to a public transport stop.

Holland and Denmark, countries where cycling is a mainstream mode of transport significantly lower levels of adult and childhood obesity.

The average annual rainfall in Dublin less than that of Amsterdam, a city that has a strong cycling culture.

Good for the Environment and the Economy

Cars produce an average of 0.3kg of CO2 per km travelled.

That’s more than 20 balloons of C02 per km. (working from a TfL stat on their cycling page) Cycling 5km each way to work instead of driving saves an average of 0.6 tonnes of greenhouse gas emissions each year and reduces the effects of global warming. Substituting car trips with bike trips also helps the environment by reducing noise pollution, nitrogen dioxide, carbon monoxide, nitrogen oxides, and hydrocarbons.

Hundreds of millions are spent on road maintenance on Irish roads every year (from NRA annual report and DoE non-national road grant information). More cars and heavier vehicles on our roads accelerate the process of wear and tear. Cycling has a negligible impact on road surface quality so replacing car trips with bike trips could save us all millions in road maintenance costs.

Ten Tips for Safe Cycling

Cycling is fun, efficient, easy and safe if you watch out for other traffic and follow the Rules of the Road.

Check out ten top tips for safe cycling from Dublin City Councils www.dublincitycycling.ie

  1. Trucks have limited visibility. Please avoid positioning yourself on the inside of large vehicles (trucks, buses, lorries) turning left. Particularly at junctions don’t try to squeeze past as the light may turn green unexpectedly. Remember that on tight turns HGVs often swing right before turning left.
  2. Your bike should be the right size for you. As a rule of thumb, your legs should not be fully extended when you are pedalling, and you should be able to reach the ground with ease with your feet when you are slowing or stopped.
  3. Make sure your brakes are in good condition and it is not only a legal requirement but also common sense to have a bell on your bike, in an easily reachable place.
  4. If you are carrying anything, tie it securely to the back carrier, use the basket, or use panniers. Carrying things on your handlebars is not advised.
  5. Remember, the Rules of the Road apply to all road users so you should familiarise yourself with them – especially the section dedicated to cycling – before taking to the road.
  6. Obey traffic signs - red lights mean stop for cyclists as well!
  7. Always be alert to what’s happening around you. If you wear a helmet, make sure it fits properly and doesn’t impede your vision.
  8. When you brake in an emergency, keep your weight on the saddle. Apply the back and front brakes evenly.
  9. When cycling at night, it is not only a legal requirement, but a vital safety measure, that you have a white front light, a red back light and a rear reflector. Also you may want to consider wearing a reflective ‘high-visibility’ jacket or reflective strips on clothing. These help motorists to see you.
  10. Don’t forget to get your bike serviced regularly.

Choosing a Bike and Accessories

Bike

You can commute on any bike so get one with a comfortable seat which allows you to sit in a reasonably upright posture. Cycling with your head somewhere below the handlebars may be alright for the Tour de France but it's not recommended for commuting. Any bike with accessible gears and brakes on flat bars - are great and the simpler, the better. A commuter bike needs to be a reliable and comfortable and have mudguards and a chainguard which protect your clothes.

It's also worth getting a back carrier or front basket so you can carry bags,  groceries etc..

Lock

Get a good lock. It cannot be overstated how much it is worth your investment. Such a lock will typically cost between €40-€75. Although locks all may look the same to you a thief will know the difference and will target a cheaper lock as it will be a lot easier to force open.

Lights

When cycling in the dark, it is not only a legal requirement but crazy not to have a white front light and back red light. Again invest in high quality reliable options.

Clothing

For most commutes your regular clothing is fine. Layering breathable gear is a good way to arrive fresh but a good jacket will only work well if there are breathable layers worn underneath it. Wear something reflective if you plan to cycle in the dusk and dark. Try either a Sam Browne belt (around waist and over shoulder) or a tabbard/gilet/vest. Invest in good rain gear (jacket and pants) for the rainy days, once you have it on you can cycle happily through the wet.

Helmet

The Road Safety Authority strongly recommends wearing a helmet but it is not a legal requirement so it’s up to you to make the choice. Whatever you do, try as many on as possible before you buy and make sure you get help in your bike shop. An incorrectly fitted helmet is a waste of time.

How often does it rain?

Surveys show the likelihood of getting caught in the rain while walking or cycling is much less than most people think.

“The general impression is that it rains quite a lot of the time in Ireland but in fact two out of three hourly observations will not report any measurable rainfall” - Met Eireann

Remember before you jump in the car on a rainy day that everyone else is having the same idea so traffic gets even worse. Get good rain gear for days when you might get caught in a shower. Of course, no-one says you have to cycle every day, so if you’re worried about a particularly ugly looking cloud lurking on the horizon maybe just get the bus in that day.

On average it rains in Dublin during 8-9am and 5-6pm less than 12% of days. That’s less than 1.5 days a month! (NTA report on rainfall 2003-2008).

Read more details on Ireland’s rainfall from Met Eireann.

Top Tips for Security of your Bike

Below are on Tips on Security from the Dublin Cycle Campaign – they made a useful video with Dublin City Council and the Gardaí here.

Locks

– You should be spending at least 10% of the value of your bike on locks, this should not be much less than €50

– Although locks all may look the same to you a thief will know the difference and will target a cheaper lock as it will be a lot easier to force open

– Buying two different types of locks is often the best option; thieves will often carry a lock cutter for one type of lock, but not both

Tips for locking your bike

– Best to lock your bike to the 'Sheffield' type stands where they are available

– Always lock the wheels as well as the frame as your bike is less likely to fall to the ground and be damaged or cause an obstacle for pedestrians.

– Many bikes come with 'quick release' wheels, these are easily stolen, your local bike shop can change the quick release part for less than €20 for both wheels. This goes for quick release saddle too, best to change the quick release there also

– Do not leave slack on a cable or chain lock, this creates an opportunity to lever the lock open, so wrap any loose cable or chain around again

– Do not leave the lock close to the ground, this creates an opportunity to smash the lock open with a hammer

– Many bikes are stolen because of what they are locked to not what they are locked with, make sure whatever you lock your bike to can not be moved or lifted like some poles can be

– Avoid poles if you can, you bike can easily fall over resulting in damage to your wheels

– Always lock your bike even at home in the shed or in work etc…

– If your locking your bike in Dublin City Centre consider using the Drury Street Car Park, they have a large section allocated to bikes

Store It Securely

More than half of all bicycle thefts occur on the owner's property. Remember to always secure your cycle - indoors, in a locked shed, or locked to a stairwell or approved storage area.

Record Your Info

Write down your bicycle model, make and frame number and take photos of your bike and you with your bike. This assists the Gardaí in returning recovered bikes to their owners.  Some Garda stations will take your bike details. You can also use www.bikeregister.ie to record your details.

The frame serial number on a bicycle can be found on the frame near one of the places highlighted

The Gardai post pictures of stolen bikes on the Flickr photo-sharing site here.

Click here for Garda security info sheet

Bike Maintenance Tips

These video guides to basic bike maintenance were developed especially for National Bike Week, and may be helpful to keep your bike in working order. However if you are in any way unsure what to do, bring your bike to a local bike shop. Some repairs will require a bike mechanic.

 

Bike Maintenance Introduction

 

 

Bike Maintenance - Fix a Chain Jam

 

Bike Maintenance - Find A Puncture

 

Bike Maintenance - Fix A Puncture

 

Bike Maintenance - Replace a Brake Cable

 

Cycle to work scheme

Using the Bike to Work scheme, your employer can help you obtain a brand new bike and safety equipment worth up to 1,000 euro. You can use a salary sacrifice arrangement to pay for the bike monthly and that means you can save up to 52% of the retail price of bike and equipment. Your employer also makes 10.75%  savings on their PRSI to encourage them.

So for a bike costing €600, an employee on the higher rate will save €312 and their employer will save €64.50 in PRSI. See 5.4.8 Provision of bicycles and associated safety equipment by employers to directors and employees

– www.revenue.ie

– www.bikescheme.ie

Dublin Bikes

Dublin City Council's dublinbikes scheme provides 40 public bike stations around the city with 450 bikes available for general public use. The network of stations extends from the Mater Hospital in the north to the Grand Canal in the south and from Smithfield in the west to the IFSC and North Docklands in the east. You can signup on www.dublinbikes.ie today.

 

Top Tips for promoting Cycling to School

The National Transport Authority fund the Green-Schools Travel Module of the national Green-Schools Flag program

As of September 2011, over 844 schools and 170,000 pupils are or  have been through the green-schoools programme, implementing initiatives to promote walking and cycling. Results from schools between 2009 and 2011 indicate an 18% reduction in private car use to more sustainable modes of travel to school. This represents over 9,000 people per day making the switch from the car to walking and cycling.

Green-Schools Travel Top tips to promote Cycling to School

A toolkit was developed by the National Transport Authority and Green Schools Travel to help your school promote walking, cycling and other forms of sustainable travel. The intended audience is teachers, parents and other responsible members of a school community, who can then share and discuss the ideas contained with both primary and secondary pupils.

Download the toolkit here

If you are outside of the Green-Schools Travel programme be optimistic but realistic about what you can achieve. Experience has shown you’ll need strong support from a champion within your school, parents, the Gardai and your Local Authority.   Being in the Green Schools travel programme will greatly assist in getting this support.  While every school is different, schools should probably start with easy to do initiatives, such as promoting a “one-day-a-week” initiative such as Walk or Cycle on Wednesday. Then as your school builds confidence and capacity you can take on more of the ideas listed

The Following Sections Include:

– Cycle Training

– Raising Awareness

– Cycle on Wednesdays

– Create an Incentive

– Revamp cycle parking

– Bike Doctor

Cycle Training

A good way to become experienced and confident as a cyclist is to undertake a cycle training course. A cycle training course will allow you to practice your cycling skills away from traffic, before venturing into quiet traffic situations. Contact your Local Authority or Road Safety Officer for further information and to find out if it is happening in your area. Cycle training can take place during or after class time depending on your school’s situation.

Cycle on Wednesdays

To get people to trial cycling or to feel more confident on a bike, you could encourage them to cycle one day a week. Green-Schools Travel has a Cycle on Wednesday (COW) initiative which encourages students, staff and parents to cycle to school on a Wednesday. This is a great way to instill a cycling culture as the more people cycle once a week the more likely they will cycle on other days of the week.

Did you know?

– More pupils would prefer to cycle to school than go by any other transport

– 85% of school pupils own a bike (Green School Annual report 2011 survey sample 9,641)

Cycle on Wednesday Roscommon Community College

Raise Awareness

You could have a poster competition in your school or community to promote cycling. You could also create a map of the area showing local cycling routes and cycle parking locations. Ask your local library or sports centre to display the winning entries.  National Bike Week takes place every June - Check out www.bikeweek.ie to register an event or to find events to take part in.  There are also lots of tips and advice on other events that will inspire ideas for your school.

Create an Incentive

Sometimes it is a good idea to offer an award as this will create an incentive.  Award a ‘Cyclist of the Month’ by giving them a prize for cycling the most often or the furthest. You could reward cyclists by offering them a healthy breakfast or a refreshing smoothie for each day they cycle during a dedicated week. This could be sponsored by a local business. The bicycle lottery could be another incentive by giving a raffle ticket to an individual every time they cycle. The more you cycle the more tickets you get, thus increasing your chances of winning.

Revamp Cycle Parking

If you are going to cycle you will need somewhere safe and secure to leave your bicycle. You will need to ensure your parking is suitable for the bicycles in question and that it is in a suitable place for cyclists to use, for example, parking where cyclists can lock their bike frames (not the wheels), near entrances, covered, well lit with people passing by.  Publicise your cycle parking. If people don’t know where it is, then it will not be used. Contact your local authority for possible funding sources for cycle parking.

Cycle Parking, Scoil Aodán Naofa, Carnew Wicklow

Bike Doctor

Lots of bicycles lie at the bottom of the garden rusting away or in the shed because they have a flat tyre. Why not organise a bike mechanic to deliver a workshop for your school to get those bikes back in shape? Contact a local cycling enthusiast or bike shop mechanic to deliver a workshop.

Children in St. Francis National School, Limerick, at their bike maintenance class

Cycle Champion

You will need to get someone to oversee all the organising and administering of any cycling event taking place. Therefore it would be a good idea to select a Cycle Champion to do this for you. This person should enjoy cycling, be friendly and well organised. Having a Cycle Champion will ensure that events run smoothly and it will also provide a contact if dealing with funding applications for cycle training or parking in your school.

Top Tips for Promoting Cycling in the Workplace

The National Transport Authority fund the Smarter Travel Workplaces Programme to support sustainable commuting and travel choices in large workplaces.

At the end of 2011, 102 workplaces in both the public and private sectors were engaged in the scheme, involving over 240,000 individuals, including college students. Partners in the programme include Accenture, Cork City Council, Deloitte, Dublin Institute of Technology, ESB, Eirgrid, Letterkenny General Hospital, Microsoft, National University of Ireland Galway, Oracle, Pfizer, Savills, Trinity College Dublin and Vodafone.

The National Transport Authority have developed a Workplace Travel Plan Guide for Implementers to assist organisations to develop Travel Plans.



 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Cycle Parking

– Good Cycle Parking is one of the effective ways of promoting cycling. Install or renovate cycle parking. Ideally it should be sheltered, secure, near entrances and well lit.

– Cycle parking should enable someone to lock their wheel and frame to the stand, so that the bikes can’t fall over. Sheffield Stand type design is probably the best known example of this type of facility. The stands can be used on both sides, and should be set between 1.20m and 1.50m apart to allow the cyclist enough room to place and access the bicycle.

– Ensure that keys or access cards or access codes to cycle parking are readily available to employees, and that they know who to contact for them.

– Provide and publicise cycle parking for visitors.

For more information on Bicycle Parking see section 5.5 of the national cycle manual

 

Cyclists' Facilities

Improve or install showers and lockers for those who walk or cycle.

 

Bike Maintenance Classes and Kit

Support bike sales with a bike maintenance class or Doctor Bike. Invite your Cycle to Work supplier or a local bike shop to organise something for you.

Supply basic bike maintenance kit in reception (e.g. pump, puncture repair kit, visi-vest & lights) and publicise its availability.

 

Fleet Bikes

Consider fleet bikes for staff to use on business during the day or to try cycling before buying a bike. The ESB, the Mater Hospital and the Dublin Airport Authority all have fleet bike schemes in place.

Did you know? The ESB has 10 fleet bikes available in its Head Office on Fitzwilliam Street, for meeting or to try commuting by bike, “The fleet bikes have been a great success. People who haven’t been on a bike in years are trying out cycling again before purchasing a bike, or people can use them to get to meetings quickly”.  Michael Downey, Communications Manager, Sustainability, ESB

 

Cycle Training

Provide Cycle Training for cyclists who want to gain confidence or who are getting back on their bikes for the first time in years. Cycle training can be done in a number of ways, for example - through a Buddy System where an experienced cyclist shows a route to a new cyclist, or through classes organised with a commercial supplier. Smarter Travel Workplaces can give you contact details of suppliers.

Cycling Networks

Organise the setting up of a Bicycle User Group (or BUG) to promote cycling further. BUGs discuss common interests and problems, or introduce ‘new’ cyclists to more experienced mentors in the organisation. Well-organised BUGs or cycling clubs can register with Cycling Ireland: see www.cyclingireland.ie

 

National Cycle Manual

The National Transport Authority has produced an online Cycle Manual to guide planners and engineers in their work to improve cycling provision in urban areas.

Online version of the National Cycle Manual www.cyclemanual.ie

You can find a PDF presentation of the manual website’s content (as of June 2011) is also available for download. This has been formatted for high quality print layout, for those users who prefer a hard copy. www.nationaltransport.ie/publications

Links

–Government Transport Policy www.smartertravel.ie

– Road Safety Authority www.rsa.ie

– www.DublinCityCycling.ie

– www.dublinbikes.ie

– www.cyclist.ie is the umbrella group for Irish cycling lobby groups including:

– Cork Cycling Campaign

– Dublin Cycling Campaign

– Galway Cycling Campaign

– Limerick Cycling Campaign

– Maynooth Cycling Campaign

– Skerries Cycling Initiative

– Cyclingireland.ie: news and information on competitive cycling

– irishcycling.com: news and info on recreational cycling

Galway Transportation Unit

Cycle Routes

– www.irishtrails.ie

– MapMyRide - Ireland

Cycle Insurance - this is not intended to be comprehensive list

– cyclesure.ie

– chill.ie