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Giving cycling the green light: An overview of transportation in Ireland and the design of the National Cycle Network


Similarly to the US, driving a car to work continues to gain ground in Ireland and the country is presented with major challenges in environment and health as a consequence. In safety, at least, Ireland has had some major successes. In 40 years, the number of fatalities has fallen from 640 to 162, a drop of 75%. Such improvements in road safety have been attributed to a combination of education, enforcement and engineering. Pedestrian and cyclist fatalities have each fallen by 66% in 20 years, however, this could be attributed to the lower numbers of people walking and cycling. Nevertheless, disproportionate numbers of pedestrians and cyclists are killed and injured on Ireland’s roads.

A 2,000 km National Cycle Network (NCN) was proposed in 2010 as part of a cycle policy which targets a 10% cycle commuting share by 2020. The NCN will be modelled on international networks, will be predominantly inter-urban and greenway based, and forms part of EuroVelo, the European Cycle Network. Research at NUI Galway is underway to develop criteria for route selection of the NCN corridors, considering safety, economy, environment, connectivity and route design. Surveys, CBA, LCA and best practice will develop a quantitative basis for each criterion and feed into an overall route selection matrix using multi-criteria analysis. The case study for this methodology is a coast to coast route from the capital, Dublin (metropolitan area pop: 1 million), in the east to Galway (pop: 75,000) in the west.

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