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Irish Mirror
Irish Mirror
Shauna Corr

Dublin active travel took 330,000 cars off the road in 2021 and saved millions in health spending

Dublin folks who walk and cycle took up to 330,000 cars off the road last year, that jammed in metropolitan traffic would have reached from the city to Skibbereen twice over.

The 2021 Walking and Cycling Index from the National Transport Authority in partnership with Sustrans was launched on Thursday by Transport Minister Eamon Ryan, Dublin Deputy Lord Mayor Joe Costello and NTA CEO Anne Graham.

It also found the efforts of active travellers saved greenhouse gas emissions equivalent to 1.3m people flying from Dublin to Heathrow (28,000 tonnes).

Read More: Top energy saving tips as Government launches 'reduce your use' campaign and household supports

Nearly a quarter of all adults living in the Dublin metropolitan area cycle at least once a week, with one in 10 getting on their bikes five or more days a week.

The uptick in biking, walking and wheeling is also estimated to have saved as much as €29.2m in HSE spending - the equivalent of 530,000 GP appointments.

Minister Eamon Ryan said: “The Walking and Cycling Index 2021 is packed with good news about the amount of walking, wheeling and cycling that is already an integral part of Dublin life.

“It is remarkable to read that 95% of all residents in the Metropolitan Area walk and one in four of us cycle at least once a week, with high numbers doing so at least five times a week.

“This is good for our health and wellbeing, our neighbourhoods, the city generally and the environment overall.”

The physical activity benefits of walking and cycling are thought to prevent 589 early deaths annually which is valued at €2.89bn.

But there’s still more to be done with 71% calling for more traffic-free cycle routes even if it means less room for cars and one in five who don’t cycle saying they would like to.

While 60% of folks thought closing streets outside schools at opening and closing times would improve their local area.

Minister Ryan added: “This report is helping us build a picture of what people need, gaps in infrastructure and how we can improve things further – so that we can make it more attractive for even more people to choose walking, wheeling and cycling in years to come.”

Anne Graham National Transport Authority CEO said: “More people than ever want to cycle and walk as part of their daily journey. That’s why the NTA has been partnering with local authorities to invest in better infrastructure.

“Between 2019 and 2021, we’ve added 43km of new protected cycle routes alone with an additional 200km of cycle lanes to be developed as part of the BusConnects programme.

“We have a unique opportunity to create more sustainable and inclusive communities not only in Dublin but across Ireland.”

Caroline Bloomfield, Sustrans Northern Ireland Director added: “The numbers walking and cycling highlight the importance of investment in good infrastructure to make it easier and more attractive to travel actively.

“Better infrastructure creates more pleasant neighbourhoods, as well as enabling healthier lifestyles and benefiting the environment.”

The report, released to coincide with Bike Week 2022, from Saturday May 14 to Sunday May 22, highlights the growing importance of active travel with just 38% of people using a car five or more days each week.

Key findings:

  • 64% of Dublin adults walk 5 or more days a week
  • 38% use car 5 or more days a week
  • 1 in 4 adults cycle at least once a week
  • 71% of residents support building cycle tracks physically separated from traffic and pedestrians
  • Every day those who walk and cycle takes up to 330,000 cars off the road in the Dublin Metropolitan Area
  • Walking and cycling improves health and saves the HSE €29.2m every year or 530,000 GP appointments
  • Greenhouse gas emissions equivalent to 1,300,000 people taking flights from Dublin to Heathrow saved
  • A €1.14 net economic benefit for each km cycled instead of driven and €0.41 net economic benefit for each km walked instead of driven

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