The proportion of students and staff cycling to Trinity College Dublin (TCD) has plummeted by almost 60 per cent in just over a decade, bucking the city trend in increased cycle commuting.
Surveys carried out by the university show steep declines in the numbers commuting to the campus by bicycle with fewer than one in 10 respondents saying they cycled in 2023 down from more than one in five in 2011.
The Healthy Trinity Smarter Travel research found one-third of students and staff in 2023 used the bus, one-fifth arrived by train including Dart, 13 per cent travelled by Luas, one-fifth walked and 9 per cent cycled. Car usage was lowest at just 3 per cent.
Public transport use has seen the largest gains since the survey was undertaken in 2011. At that time 22 per cent took the bus, 14 per cent travelled by train or Dart, and just 7 per cent by Luas. Walkers represented 22 per cent, the same as cyclists, while car use was slightly higher than in 2023, but still the least common mode of travel at 5 per cent.
The fall in Trinity cyclists runs contrary to the upsurge in the popularity of cycle commuting in Dublin city, which had numbers of commuter cyclists rising by more than 45 per cent over a similar period. Just 3.7 per cent of all commuters cycled in 2011, according to the National Transport Authority and Dublin City Council. Last year that proportion had increased to 5.4 per cent.
Prof Brian Caulfield, professor in transportation at the Department of Civil, Structural and Environmental Engineering said the reduction in cycling could be associated with the reduction in the cost of public transport for students but also “the further distances travelled to get to our campus due to the affordability of accommodation”.
Research has shown that since 2019 the proportion of students and staff travelling 4km-6km to TCD has dropped by 14 per cent, while journeys of 16km-25km rose by 5 per cent.
Martina Mullin, who leads the Healthy Trinity group said in addition to the lack of accommodation “a city centre environment that’s hostile to walking and cycling mean[s] many of our community are forced to take less healthy transport”.
Students and staff had reported fears around cycling in Dublin city, she said. “It’s important to realise that 69 per cent of our students still travel less than 10km. But we know from previous surveys they feel the city isn’t safe enough for cycling in particular, largely because there still isn’t continuity of safe segregated cycle routes.”
The survey results have been released ahead of the Healthy Trinity Forum on November 21st which aims to encourage Trinity’s community to engage with the Dublin City Transport Plan, which is open for consultation until December 1st.