The power of pedalling

Seán Holland discusses how to navigate your way around Dublin the eco-friendly way

As Trinity welcomes students back to campus, there will also be the return of the dozens of bikes locked near the gym. People commute every day from across the city. Cycling is probably the most affordable and environmentally friendly way of commuting. 

“Cycling in Dublin is not for the faint-hearted.”

It is, however, not always the most accessible. Cycling in Dublin is not for the faint-hearted. Dublin Bus drivers are going to pull out whether you and your bike are there or not. The cycle lanes being interchangeable with bus stops is one of the city’s major flaws. This is particularly prevalent on the commute from Halls into college. This may be mostly a straight road all the way, but there are four or five places where, as you are cycling, you have to veer out to avoid buses. It can be a scary experience for those not used to cycling in the city. One of the great advantages of having a bike in Halls or anywhere in the city is that it is, obviously, much quicker than walking. This comes into play when it’s ten to ten and you have just decided to go out and you can nip to Tesco before they stop serving alcohol. However, I have learned the hard way that bikes do have their limitations; specifically, they are not an effective method of transporting shopping. 

Nearly every week in first year, I put all of my shopping from Aldi in Rathmines into a gear bag and lugged it back to Halls. It might not seem it but as you cycle past Mother Reilly’s there is a harsh drag all the way back to Dartry Road. I would advise any incoming Freshers to just get the bus from the corner of Halls into Rathmines and take their shopping home that way.

The daunting Halls route, and the dangers buses and other vehicles pose to cyclists, are just some examples of a wider issue when it comes to cycling in Dublin city. To combat this, Trinity has produced a document to the City Council entitled Enabling the City to Return to Work. This document asks the Council to widen footpaths and cycle lanes on four key routes. These routes are from College to Halls, St. James’s Hospital, Grand Canal Innovation District and on Nassau Street. Trinity has also asked the council to prioritise pedestrians and cyclists at junctions and to reduce speed limits for vehicles. This is part of Trinity’s initiative to encourage people within 5km of the college to either walk or cycle. In doing so, it will be easier to maintain social distancing and will free up public transport for those who need it for health reasons or have a longer commute. 

In 2019, Trinity’s transport survey found that just over forty per cent of students either cycled or walked to college. This is despite inner city bike lanes and not because of them. It is reasonable to say these numbers would go up if cyclists and their safety were given priority in the city.

Another major issue is the frequency of bike theft in Dublin. The Journal reported that last year 1 in 100 bikes were stolen across Ireland and that Dublin and Limerick were the most affected areas. Bikes, overall, work out much cheaper than daily public transport, but this does not factor in a bike being stolen. Despite using locks, bikes are stolen every day across the city, and it is a very frustrating, time consuming and ultimately expensive experience. If you are going to buy a brand-new bike it is worth spending another bit extra to insure it. Second-hand bikes are just as effective at getting you around and there are a number of bike shops that sell reasonably priced bikes, or you could source one from a second-hand website such as from Facebook Marketplace or

“As well as being an eco-friendly way of transport, bikes also provide a great opportunity to explore the greenways around Dublin.”

As well as being an eco-friendly way of transport, bikes also provide a great opportunity to explore the greenways around Dublin. Phoenix Park is an obvious place to start and is an  easy cycle route to get around. Renting a Bleeper bike or Dublinbikes is a cheap and convenient option, although I would recommend your own bike for longer journeys or frequent use as the rented bikes can be clunky, slow, and uncomfortable. 

The Tolka and Liffey Greenway are well worth exploring and are very accessible. For more of a challenge, the Clontarf to Howth ride is ideal for soaking in the coastal views.  This route can take you to the picturesque St. Anne’s Park or to the old Kilbarrack cemetery and will take a couple of hours in an afternoon for a moderate cyclist.