Bike Week is a Great Time to Get Back in the Saddle

Giving Back
Eilish Rafferty
June 14, 2018
Brian Tiernan, Dublin City Triathlon

It's Bike Week in Ireland. To mark the occasion, we’ve asked our Senior Analyst and avid cyclist Brian Tiernan to write about why it’s so good for us to take to two wheels.An obvious benefit of any form of exercise is better health. The added benefit of cycling is that it is a means of transport, so any trip can become a workout.Ireland is facing an obesity problem; an estimated 37% of Irish women will be obese by 2025 according to a study published in The Lancet. The same study found that men in Ireland have the highest BMI in Europe.There is also the mental health aspect. It has been shown that taking public transport, walking and cycling is far better than driving for people. Personally, I can say the ‘headspace’ of a cycle vs being stuck in a car in traffic is obvious.EmissionsCycling creates no emissions (this is the reason cyclists don’t have to pay motor tax). Road Tax does not exist. Upkeep of roads and new construction of roads is paid for through general taxation – we all pay). Ireland has achieved a 1% reduction in emissions (compared to 2005 levels) over the last 13 years. This is despite a target set by the EU of a 20% reduction. This will lead us to massive fines in 2020, estimated to be more than €450 million. Transport makes up 21% of the total emissions, and according to a recent report of the Climate Change Advisory Council, emissions are rising in the transport sector, not falling.Investing in cycling now would help us decrease our carbon emissions and lessen these fines.CostThe Irish government’s Cycle-to-Work scheme has led to an explosion in cycling in Ireland. In April 2016, 56,837 people cycled to work, an increase of 43% since 2011. There has been a knock-on effect in many ways including an increase in bike shops which has created new jobs.The scheme reduces the cost of buying a bike by up to 52% depending on the tax band the employee is on. Under the scheme, the employee can buy a bike plus safety equipment up to the value of €1,000. But a bike can cost as little as a few hundred euro. Maintenance for the year is about the same.Compare this to buying a car, taxing it, getting it through the NCT, paying for insurance, new tyres, servicing and fuel, all of which costs thousands – €4,593.75 to be precise (based on driving 15,000km per year).TimeI have a choice for my own commute to work: public transport which takes approximately one hour or a 50-minute cycle. It’s about 20km on the bike one way so it’s not for the faint hearted but it shows that even longer commutes are quicker on a bike. It is my experience that getting around Dublin and other cities I’ve lived in is definitely quicker on a bike.How to get startedThe best way to get started is to take the plunge. It can be daunting but easing into cycling would be my best suggestion. Renting a bike for a trip around Dublin’s Phoenix Park or Killarney National Park could be a good way to get used to cycling without much traffic. The Greenways in Waterford and Mayo are also great ways to not only get back on the bike but to see some wonderful countryside.Short-term rental bikes for getting around big cities are now the norm all over the world. Dublin, Cork and Galway all have them.If you feel ready to get right back in the saddle and you are an employee, the Bike-to-work scheme is a fantastic way to get a new bike. Cheaper options are available in bike shops. Rothar in Dublin, which is run by volunteers, is a great place to get a refurbished bike for less.Bike Week is an opportunity for anyone who hasn’t been on a bike in a while to give it a go. It should also be a time for drivers to remember that cyclists are some of the most venerable road users – and we are definitely not out to ruin your day!Senior Analyst Brian Tiernan is a triathlete who completed his first Ironman in Italy last September.

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