Cycling to work, college or school has to be one of the best ways of getting a fresh air fix, saving money, saving time and all in a trip you’ve got to do anyway! If it’s a trip you’ve got to do, then why get stuck in a jam?
Cycling for any local trip is worth considering. Cycling can be an increasingly attractive option in high traffic areas around the country! Whatever the traffic conditions are on a particular day, you’ll find the time taken on a bike to make any regular journey is very predictable. Planning your day is much easier and a whole lot less stressful when you know exactly when you will arrive.
Cycling can be the fun alternative to joining a gym – it offers all the benefits of regular exercise. Increased aerobic fitness, reduced risk of cardiovascular disease, lower cholesterol are some of the rewards. It also helps tone up calves, thighs, and hips and can burn off calories at a rate of up to 700 per hour! There are many tools available to help you to calculate your calories burned, including the National Transport Authority’s Cycle Planner website and app.
For help in choosing the shortest route from A to B covering most of the built up area of Dublin, why not try the National Transport Authority’s Cycle Planner (website and free app). Don’t forget though that there may be other slightly longer but more pleasant routes, so if you’re making the same journey on a regular basis, experiment with alternatives. You can download the Dublin Cycle planner app free from the Apple App store for iPhone and iPad, or Google Play store for Android devices. The Cycle Planner will be rolled out for other regions in the coming months.
DOWNLOAD NOW – FREE
Features of the Cycle Planner include:
- Find a cycle route via several stop offs
- Bring my bike on the train
- Use Dublin Bikes
- Avoid hills
- Co2 and calorie calculator
- Places of interest near my route
- Featured themed routes
- Hill profile
- Integrates with the National Journey Planner (for public transport)
Studies have also shown that those who cycle to work have a significantly lower mortality rate. But you don’t have to be super-fit to enjoy cycling. One of the great things about cycling is you can take it at whatever pace suits you. Chances are you will find yourself beating rush hour traffic speeds without even trying too hard.
Choosing to cycle instead of driving gives you the good feeling that you are doing your bit for a more pleasant city and a cleaner environment. Emissions from road traffic are now the primary threat to the quality of air in Ireland. Cycling is a clean mode of transport that does not generate the harmful exhaust chemicals associated with cars and other vehicles.
By choosing to cycle, you’re also doing your bit to cut down on greenhouse gas emissions and fight climate change. Every kilometre you choose to cycle instead of drive saves approximately 250g of CO2 emissions (for an average car in typical urban traffic conditions).
Not only is cycling an easy way of saving on travel time while getting exercise and staying fit, and helping the environment, you’ll also save money.
How can I get started cycling?
If you haven’t cycled for a long time, why not get hold of a bike and give it a try out and about on some streets in your neighbourhood. Try a quiet time and place to begin with, if you are in any way nervous about your skills. You will get an idea of the local roads layout from the cyclist’s point of view and also maybe an idea as to how fit you are!
Whether you’re starting cycling, or getting back in the saddle after a long break, try cycling in a medium gear. This will mean you’ll be cycling at one revolution per second or so – ideal for getting there without too much effort. Once you’re comfortable with his you’ll find the best level for you. As you get more fit and your body gets more toned you will probably look to increase the resistance level and will naturally move up the gears.
Choosing a Bike and Accessories
- Bike – You can commute on any bike. Get a bike with a comfortable seat and that allows you to sit in a reasonably upright posture. Cycling with your head somewhere below the handlebars may be all right for the Tour de France but is not recommended for commuting around Dublin! Traditional bikes – any bike with accessible gears and brakes on flat bars are great. Simple bikes are better, there is no point in having zillions of gears if you’ve got an average commute, there is more to maintain and more to go wrong. A commuter bike needs to be a reliable workhorse something which doesn’t look too flash (so you get to keep it longer), and which is comfortable and has mudguards and chainguard that protects you from the weather. A commuter bike can be cheap, good fun and makes a whole load of sense.
- Lock – Get a good lock, it is definitely worth the investment. This typically costs about €40.
- Lights – When cycling in the dark, it’s important (and the law!) to have lights (a white light at the front and red at the back). There are many high quality reliable options around powered by conventional disposable batteries, rechargeable batteries, or even dynamo “standlights” that stay on when you stop.
- Clothing – For short commutes on good surfaces, your regular clothing is fine. Longer commutes will probably need something more cycling specific- partly so you’ve got something fresh to wear but also you don’t want to cycle too far in something too baggy that flaps in the breeze. Layering breathable gear is a good way to arrive fresh – but a good “Gore-tex” type jacket will only work well if there are breathable layers underneath. For cycling in the City, especially if you plan to cycle after 4pm in winter it’s always best to wear something reflective, either a Sam Browne belt (around waist and over shoulder) or a tabbard/gilet/vest.
- It’s worth getting a back carrier or front basket so you can carry handbags, shoes, a change of clothing if necessary, or even some groceries.
- Helmet – Much the source of debate, whether to use one or not. Modern designs are light with plenty of venting and look cool too. 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. For local cycle shops see links below.
Dublin Bikes Rental Scheme
Coca-Cola Zero dublinbikes is a self-service bike rental system open to everyone from 14 years of age. It enables you to travel through the city centre, commute between home and work and get out and about to enjoy Dublin city at your leisure.
All stations are equipped for Annual Card and 3 Day Ticket users. A number of credit card enabled terminals allow you to purchase a 3 Day Ticket. Once purchased, you can use the 3 Day Ticket similar to the Annual Card to rent or return a bike from any station in the network. You can enjoy the many benefits of an Annual Card for just €20. A 3 Day Ticket costs €5. The first 30 minutes of use is free on every bike. For further information or to sign up visit www.dublinbikes.ie
This scheme is being expanded in Dublin and new schemes are being introduced in Cork, Limerick and Galway in autumn 2014. Further information is available in the following press release.
What about the traffic?
Many people state traffic is their biggest turn-off towards cycling. It’s true it can get busy and a little intimidating at times. One trick is to be creative about your route – you can go many places a car can’t. If you’re not used to cycling in traffic it’s a good idea to avoid busier roads when you start off, especially if they don’t have cycle lanes. If you’re in traffic, hold your position – do not ride in the gutter or marginalize yourself – your journey is no less important than anyone else’s. Be clear about your intentions – signal early – anticipate silly moves.
Ride with a bell and don’t jump lights or ride pavements full of pedestrians and your trip will be a lot less stressful – and chances are you’ll still get there quicker than the drivers!
- Exercise caution at busy roundabouts.
- Watch out for opening doors.
- Don’t cut it too fine, leave yourself time to so that you can cycle at a comfortable pace and avoid taking chances.
For information and advice on cycle safety please refer to the Road Safety Authority.
Improved Conditions for Cyclists
In the past, many people have been put off the thought of cycling to work or college or the shops because of the unpleasant traffic environment. There was too much traffic, often moving too fast, and a lot of it was heavy trucks. By and large only experienced cyclists were willing to brave these conditions.
Cycling conditions have been improving around the country over recent years. For example, in Dublin the Port Tunnel is now open, and this has made a huge difference in the city centre. Since the Tunnel has opened, Dublin City Council has worked hard to change the cycling environment in the city centre for the better.
- With the opening of the Port Tunnel, there are far fewer heavy vehicles in the city centre than before. There has been a decline of over 80% in large trucks on the Quays since the Tunnel opened. Declines on other streets in and around the city centre have been even greater.
- There are extra sections of cycle lane and bus lane (which cyclists can use) on the north quays.
An improved cycle network and improved traffic environment in the city centre means cycling is now more pleasant and safer in many areas of Dublin than it was in the past. And more improvements to the city centre environment for cyclists are planned.
In Limerick, as part of the Limerick Smarter Travel pilot programme a huge amount of work is being done to improve cycling conditions. For further information visit Limerick Smarter Travel’s website.
What about the rain?
Well although the summer of 2007 was a washout, summer 2013 was absolutely glorious and the long term average number of wet days in a year endured by cyclists who cycle every day to and from work is less than 5% (believe it or not!) of days cycled. Remember before you jump in the car on a rainy day- everyone else has the same idea and the traffic will be even worse. Get a decent rain/wind top and check the weather forecasts for the days when you might get caught in a shower or worse. 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.
What about cold weather?
Gloves and a scarf are of course useful on particularly cold mornings. Other than that, crisp fresh air makes cycling really fun – a break from the artificial environment of centrally heated homes, air conditioned cars and heated workplaces. And since you are moving you’re generating your own heat so you’ll warm up in a couple of minutes.
Cycling Make Cents!
Buying a decent bike and kitting it out costs less that the annual insurance bill for a car.
A good quality commuting bike will cost you roughly €250. Lights will cost €25, a helmet €35 and good quality rain gear will set you back roughly €60. A secure lock will probably cost you €50. All in all, that’s an attractively small layout for the wheels that will always offer you a quick, easy and low maintenance means of getting around.
It is also worth checking out the Cycle to Work Scheme where you can make huge savings on your bicycle and related equipment. For further information visit the Cycle to Work Scheme information online.
For details on the cost of motoring the AA have a useful chart that breaks down the cost of motoring by car type, this can be viewed on the AA website.Back to top