Walking and cycling takes an estimated 330,000 cars off roads in the Dublin Metropolitan Area every day, according to the 2021 Walking and Cycling Index.
The index, launched on Thursday by the Minister for Transport, deputy Lord Mayor of Dublin and the National Transport Authority (NTA), is the largest assessment of walking and cycling in urban areas in Ireland.
Previously the Bike Life report, it is produced by sustainable transport charity Sustrans in partnership with city authorities and the NTA, and is based on local walking and cycling data, modelling and a survey of more than 1,100 residents from across the Dublin area.
Its latest iteration found that if all the cars taken off the capital’s roads by walking and cycling were in a traffic jam, they would tail back about 1,600 kilometres - more than the distance from Dublin to Skibbereen and back, twice over.
The report found 95 per cent of Dublin residents walk or wheel (meaning the use of a wheelchair or mobility scooter), with 64 per cent of residents walking or wheeling at least five days per week and 25 per cent cycling at least once a week.
This compares to 38 per cent of people who use a car at least five or more days each week, highlighting the “importance and reach of the investments made by the NTA into active travel infrastructure.”
The report found 71 per cent of surveyed Dublin residents support building more cycle tracks physically separated from traffic and pedestrians – even where that means less room for other traffic.
The number of people who feel cycling safety is improving has also increased, with 65 per cent of all residents stating that they think the level of safety for cycling in their local areas is good, up from 47 per cent in 2019.
Similarly, 86 per cent of residents think the level of safety for walking is good.
The health benefits of walking and cycling to the Dublin area were also outlined in the report, with the physical activity benefits of walking and cycling preventing 589 early deaths annually which is valued at €2.89 billion.
Minister for Transport Eamon Ryan said it was “remarkable” to read that 95 per cent of residents in the Dublin area walk and one in four cycle at least once a week.
“This is good for our health and wellbeing, our neighbourhoods, the city generally and the environment overall,” he said.
“Crucially, however, this report is also helping us build a picture of what people need, gaps in infrastructure and how we can improve things further – so that we can make it more attractive for even more people to choose walking, wheeling and cycling in years to come.”
The launch of this year’s report coincides with Bike Week 2022, which runs from Saturday May 14th to Sunday May 22nd. Over 600 special events are planned across the country, including family events, heritage cycles, maintenance workshops and learn-to-cycle events.