Dublin in need to change its way to move around the city to hit climate goals
The capital of Ireland is home to 28.5% of the country’s total population, with almost 1.5 million people. This means that a large number of people circulate every day in the busy streets of the city. According to CSO Ireland, in 2019, 74% of the total of journeys were made by car, meanwhile only 14% of them were walking or cycling, percentages that support the fact that in Dublin there are too many cars and not enough bikes circulating.
Traffic in Dublin is a real problem, the city is not prepared for so many cars. Research results provided by motor data company INRIX’s Global Scorecard shows an analysis of congestion and mobility trends in more than 200 cities in 38 countries around the planet. Among all those cities we find Dublin as the 20th most congested city in the world, with drivers in the capital losing on average 66 hours in their cars due to traffic congestion.
No one likes to waste time, so why do so many people spend that much time on cars? There is a clear solution to this, changing your car for a bike. Cycling in Dublin can be a challenge but also, can solve many problems at once. The use of bicycles offers advantages in many areas. It is a great opportunity to exercise, a way of saving extra minutes every day and even from an economic perspective, it is clear that bikes are an option much cheaper than cars. However, one of the major advantages is that cycling contributes to help environment, a real challenge on which there is indeed no time to waste.
Dublin is the most polluted city in the country and this is mainly due to two factors, “first of all, the traffic that accumulates in Dublin, that generates a huge quantity of NOx (nitrogen oxides) and PMs (particulate matter). Second, the lack of big green areas, compared with other parts of the country. But Dublin, as well, is the most density city in the whole island. Therefore, these problems are a consequence of this peculiarity of the city,” affirms Bruno Caviglione Rodriguez, environmental scientist.
However, there is still hope, “as individuals, we have so much power and decisions in how to help our environment, from using transport that is more sustainable to being more sensible with the decision in our diet, or just trying to be more energy efficient. All these actions are focused on reduce the carbon footprint in our daily life,” encourages Caviglione.
Until the transition to zero-emission cars and trucks becomes a viable option, alternative ways to improve the situation need to be taken. For now, cycling and walking are the only zero-emission forms of transportation. Caviglione believes that cycling is “a measure that would help a lot to reduce our emissions” not only by using the bike itself but because “the environmental impact from bike production is lower compared to the car.”
The capital has already more than 95.000 people using their bikes to move around the city every day but this number must increase. The City Council is decided to implement certain changes to create a more sustainable mobility system in line with climate objectives. There are plans to spend €7.6 million on walking and cycling infrastructure this year. The aim is to transform Dublin into a cycling friendly city to encourage people to walk and use bicycles instead of cars.
The European Cyclists’ Federation (ECF) and a global coalition of 80 pro-cycling organisations, including Irish member Cyclist.ie have issued an open letter calling on governments attending COP26 in Glasgow to boost cycling levels to reduce carbon emissions and reach climate goals quickly and effectively. The letter was sent to governments and transport ministers ahead of COP26 and it is very clear, “the world needs much more cycling if we are to combat climate change. Without quicker and more determined action by governments worldwide to cut transport carbon emissions, we will be dooming present and future generations to a world that is more hostile and much less inhabitable.”
Some of the measures suggested in the letter, signed by 350 organizations around the world, are “promoting cycling in all its forms, including cycling tourism, sports cycling, bike sharing, riding to work or school and for exercising”, “recognising cycling as a climate solution, establishing a clear link between how an increase in bicycle trips and a decrease in private car trips reduce CO₂ emissions” or “Building synergies with public transport and foster combined mobility solutions for a multimodal ecosystem capable of covering all user needs without relying on a private car.”
“Ireland has no choice but to change to hit climate goals,” Taoiseach Micheál Martin said from the Cop26 climate summit in Glasgow. And among all the things that need to change, the prime minister included also transport. Ireland’s first carbon budget, from 2021 to 2025, demands a reduction of emissions by 4.8 per cent on average each year for five years. The second budget, running from 2026 to 2030, will see emissions reduce by 8.3 per cent on average each year.
This is a big challenge for the country, but especially for Dublin, as it is the most polluted and densely populated city. Nevertheless, we can all do our bit to help ensure a cleaner future by changing certain aspects of our day-to-day lives, which will help us all to make a difference in our future and the future of our planet. Using the bike is no longer going to be a choice.