Geographically Dublin is well suited for people cycling to work, here are five main reasons:
Dublin is relatively flat and while there are hills, they generally have quite gentle slopes. In addition, as the City Centre is the lowest point, commuting to work by bike is generally downhill in the morning/ or flat and uphill in the evening. This suits most people as it means the strenuous uphill section is left until after work on the way home. http://en-ie.topographic-map.com/places/Dublin-2520/
Ireland is a relatively windy country but Dublin is sheltered compared to the most of the country. The prevailing wind generally in Ireland is from the South West. But in Dublin the prevailing wind is more westerly as the southern portion is reduced by the sheltering effect of the Wicklow Mountains to the south of the City. Helpfully as the City Centre is on the eastern coast, for most people cycling into the city centre for work the wind will be with them in the morning and against them in the evening. Similar to topography above this is better than the reverse as the strenuous part of the cycle is on the way home. See wind rose below for various parts of Ireland including Dublin Airport (to the north of the city).
Ireland has a deserved reputation for being wet, and while Dublin is located in the driest part of Ireland it can still rain frequently. Yet according to research published recently, Dublin is surprisingly less likely to get wet than in other well-known cycling hotspots, when commuting to work. According to Shane Lynns research (see link below) you are as likely to get wet cycling to work in Dublin as you would be in New York, and Dublin is actually dryer than the city famous for cycling, Amsterdam. By comparison in Galway City, on Irelands west coast, cyclists are 3 times more likely to get wet on any particular commute than a Dublin one. See more at http://www.shanelynn.ie/wet-rainy-cyling-commute-in-ireland-with-wunderground-and-python/
Cycling in icy, snowy, cold weather can be quite daunting. The fear of icy and slippy manhole covers/ tram tracks is well founded. However again Ireland and Dublin has a mild Winter climate when compared with the rest of Northern Europe. It very rarely snows and when it does it has usually melted by mid-day.
Dublin is a relatively small capital city which means it is easy to cycle from the outlying parts into the centre. Reviewing the Copenhagen Index of best Cities in the world for cyclists (see here) it is notable that the majority of the cities in the top 20 are medium sized cities. Presumable medium sized cities are easier and less congested for cyclists to navigate.
This emphasised when considering that 75% of cycle journeys are less than 8km long according to a DTO study.
Areas that need improvement
Notwithstanding the above there are areas where Dublin needs to improve in relation to cycling:
- Lack of separated cycle routes (although there are some the excellent routes e.g. the grand canal cycle route)
- Bike Thieves. I had 2 bikes stolen when I was in Collage (both were locked), I understand things have gotten worse since.
- The many one way streets for traffic can be confusing to navigate on a bike
- The poor behavior of some fellow cyclists and car drivers
To finish, an interesting facts about cycling:
In terms of energy efficiency, on bikes humans have even surpassed natural evolution: to move 1kg of body mass 1km, a cyclist on a normal bike uses only 0.136 calories while for comparison a seagull uses 1.433 calories. http://www.eesc.europa.eu/?i=glossaries.en.cycling-some-cycling-statistics&defaultLocaleSelector=true&dl=en_GB
Share of cycling in cities https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Modal_share
Dublin 5% modal share for cycling http://irishcycle.com/2012/08/08/880/