The draft Greater Dublin Area Cycle Network Plan, which was launched on 4 September, is the culmination of over a year's work by the National Transport Authority (NTA) and AECOM-Roughan & O'Donovan (ROD) Alliance consultants. It sets out a vision and a strategy for the construction and designation of a comprehensive network of cycling routes throughout the greater Dublin area in counties Dublin, Meath, Kildare and Wicklow.

At a presentation last Wednesday in Engineers Ireland HQ, which was hosted by the organisation's Roads & Transportation Society, NTA head of transport development Michael Aherne, along with Séamus MacGearailt, chartered engineer and director of Roughan & O'Donovan (on behalf of AECOM-ROD Alliance), explored the various steps taken in developing the proposals. These included mapping and classifying the existing network of facilities, assessing their quality and mapping desire lines to identify the routes most attractive to cyclists using advanced modelling techniques. Aherne explained that the NTA was just one partner in a multi-agency, multi-stranded cycling project, which has produced the tax-saving Bike To Work scheme, the Dublin Bikes scheme, the Bicycle Counting System and the production of the successful National Cycle Manual.

The funding stream across sustainable transport measures was over €12 million in 2012. “Cycling has moved from being a minority mode of transport or an elite sport into the mainstream and we know that from our Bicycle Counting Scheme,” said Aherne. “On Dublin’s Grove Road along the canal on a Tuesday in June, for example, there were over 3,000 cyclists in one day. That’s approaching the same number you’d see in places like Copenhagen or Amsterdam. We have great data about cyclists and their behaviour from the Counting Scheme – for example, route choices, the effects of weather and random facts such as more people travel into work on the canal than cycle home along it.” Aherne said that in the drawing up of the draft Greater Dublin Area Cycle Network Plan, all of this data was “there to be mined”. “We wanted to get all the data together, understand this particular mode of transport and apply good transport planning principles to the cycle plan,” he explained. “That was the basis for the tender and that’s what AECOM-ROD has done. The consultants have done great work and now we have a proposal for a cycle network that’s logical and gives us the basis for investment.”


MacGearailt said that the study area encompassed seven local authorities – Dublin City, Fingal, South Dublin, Dun Laoghaire-Rathdown, Wicklow, Kildare and Meath. This relates to a population of 1.8 million people and 7,000km2 of territory. The key personnel in the NTA and in AECOM-ROD Alliance consultants were all cyclists with extensive knowledge of routes around the study area. There were two parts within the area – the Dublin Metropolitan Area with 1.2 million people, which has an existing cycle network in place for over 20 years; and the rest of the greater Dublin area with a population of 0.7 million, which has had a limited cycle network to date.

The latter area has seen its population grow considerably in the past 10-15 years. “The scope of the study meant that we had to map existing cycling facilities; assess the quality of service; review the strategic planning concept; evaluate cycle trip demand – both now and in the future; and out of all that, we had to develop strategic cycle route network proposals,” MacGearailt continued. “We didn’t have to invent a methodology – thankfully, the National Cycle Manual 2011 was terrific. It covers the seven steps to planning a cycle network, which is essentially a defined collection of connected routes. The routes are a set of connected links and junctions that follow logical corridors between zones or urban centres. “The purpose of the cycle network is to connect the main zones of origin and destination within an urban area and it should provide effective through movement for cyclists – classic transport planning put into practice.”

The speakers went on to present an overview of the proposed network and provided a synopsis of the environmental impact appraisal that has been undertaken. To view the rest of the presentation on the draft Greater Dublin Area Cycle Network Plan, click this link.