Just 3% of Irish children are cycling to school, a new Newstalk survey has found.
The latest in a series of polls carried out by Amárach Research for Newstalk examines all things Back to School from voluntary contributions to transport and sex education.
The survey finds that more than half (51%) of school children get to school by car, with 22% using public transport.
Meanwhile, 23% are walking to school with 1% saying their children travel through ‘other means’.
It means that just 3% of children are cycling to school each day.
On Newstalk Breakfast this morning, environmentalist and broadcaster Duncan Stewart said the figure is “incredibly low”.
“I mean, if you take Holland, 75% of children going to school, cycle to school,” he said.
“In Belgium, it is about 30% and in Denmark, it is about 40%.”
The survey found that parents in Dublin are far more likely to send their children to school on bikes than elsewhere in the country.
One-in-ten (9%) parents in the capital send their children to school on bikes, with very few parents in other areas saying they do so.
When it was put to Mr Stewart that parents are concerned about the danger of cycling on Irish roads, he said: “They are absolutely correct”.
“That is exactly the problem,” he said. “Our roads, first of all, we don’t have the designated cycle or desegregated cycle lanes that they would have in Europe.
“So, we are depending on the safety of the road itself for children to be able to cycle on and of course our roads in Ireland are incredibly dangerous.
“All of our roads - our country roads and in housing schemes and our main commuter routes into the city - are incredibly dangerous.”
He said speed limits should be significantly reduced in urban areas to increase safety.
“The speed limits are way above what they should be,” he said.
“Those speed limits, in my view, should all be reduced to 30kph when you come into an urban area – like what has happened right across Europe.”
He said the limits should be reduced even further near schools.
“In my view, around schools, say within a kilometer of 2km distance from a school in all directions, my view is that traffic calming measure should be put in place that designate these stretches of roads at 20km speed limits,” he said.
The former Eco Eye presenter said Ireland has bowed to the pressure of drivers and lobby groups for cars and the car industry for years – and now needs to share the available road space fairly among cars, bicycles, pedestrians and other forms of transport.
“This is something we need to look seriously at because parents will say it is too dangerous for their children to cycle to school and they are absolutely correct, it is – but we still continue with the wrong speed limits,” he said.
‘If you would like have your opinion heard and take part in a Newstalk Amarach poll, visit amarachpanel.com/nt for more information.’