Trinity Research: Public perception on Active Travel Schemes 

by Alex Greaney
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Alex Greaney 

Dún Laoghaire Rathdown County Council has been working with Trinity’s (TCD) Centre for Transport Research to better understand public perceptions around Active Travel Schemes. Researchers from TCD analysed a sample of 150 public consultation submissions opposing redistributive active travel measures put forward as part of an ‘Active School Travel’ scheme in Dún Laoghaire-Rathdown.  

They found that opposition to active travel measures that prioritise walking and cycling often draws upon underlying beliefs that are incompatible with national policies to increase daily active travel journeys by 50% by 2030 in pursuit of transport decarbonisation targets. 

The research identified several recurring themes and misconceptions that appear in response to most active travel schemes: 

    Cycling is not a legitimate mode of transport and therefore is not part of everyday traffic. 

    Roads are for traffic and because cycling is not considered traffic then it shouldn’t be catered for. 

    If active travel schemes cause traffic they should not proceed. 

    Traffic is something that cannot be changed ‘the traffic has to go somewhere’. 

    Driving trips are essential whereas cycling is considered recreational and therefore not essential. 

The research demonstrates that these preconceptions are not correct and that they also are at odds with the policy direction and climate change requirements. Having this local research, especially when it is based on the views of residents of the Dún Laoghaire-Rathdown area provides an excellent resource in support of the programme.  

Researchers made the following recommendations: 

    Wording cyclists/cycling as “cycle traffic” rather than something potentially ‘in the way’ of traffic or as a ‘cause’ of traffic. 

    Quantifying the effects that car-centric planning can have on the safety of people walking and cycling, and on local air pollution. 

    Underlining why car-centric transport is unsustainable from an everyday mobility perspective in light of population growth and national policies aiming to promote more compact urban development. 

    Communicating the major dependencies of mass driving, such as road spaces, parking spaces, driver licencing, car insurance, affordable fuel prices, and fuelling stations. 

Dún Laoghaire Rathdown County Council will be considering these recommendations to assist with the future development of the Active Travel Programme. 

The full research findings are available at: 

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