Cycling in Ireland
Cycling has grown more popular in Ireland in recent years. A bicycle is an affordable, healthy and environmentally friendly mode of transport. A tax break is available to employees who buy new bikes and equipment under the Bike to Work Scheme.
As a cyclist, you will likely have to share road space with other vehicles. There are some separated cycle paths in towns and cities, popular recreational routes on more minor rural roads and a growing network of rural greenways. These are dedicated off-road routes for walkers and cyclists. Some of Ireland’s greenways were constructed along the routes of disused railways in Mayo, Waterford, Westmeath and Limerick.
Bicycles and public transport
Can I bring a bike on public transport?
In many cases you can bring bicycles on public transport in Ireland. You can bring a bike on any Irish Rail train for free, although there are some restrictions during busy periods (such as sporting fixtures and concerts). See the table below for more information about bringing your bicycle on different forms of public transport.
|Public transport||Rules for bringing your bicycle|
|Train - InterCity|
|Train – DART and Commuter||
Bikes can be carried free of charge during off-peak times. You are not allowed to bring a bike on board at these busy times:
Monday – Friday, before 10:00am
Monday – Friday, 15:30pm – 7:00pm
Folding bikes (that are folded and covered) can be carried at all times free of charge. You can travel with bikes all day Saturday and Sunday.
|Bus Éireann||You can bring a bike if there is space in the luggage compartment. Bus Éireann charges a fee (currently €10) to bring a bike on a single journey.
Folding bikes can be carried for free. However it must be folded and covered or you will be charged the full bicycle rate of €10 per journey.
Folding bikes (carried or stored in the luggage area)
Folding bikes (that are folded and in a protective case or bag) can be carried free of charge. You are not allowed to bring a full-size bike on board.
Bike sharing schemes
If you don’t bring a bike on your journey, you can combine public transport with bike hire at your destination. Ireland has many private bike hire companies with information available locally. There are 5 major bike share schemes.
Dublin Bikes are available to anyone over the age of 14. You can hire a Dublin Bike by buying either a 1-day ticket, or a 3-day ticket or you can take out an annual subscription. See dublinbikes.ie for full details and pricing.
Bleeper is a stationless bike sharing scheme currently only available in Dublin. You can unlock a BleeperBike using a smart phone app. This enables you to pick up a BleeperBike at any public cycle parking area, and return it to any other public cycle parking location within the city. Users are charged per bike ride. Monthly membership of €17.50 allows for up to one hour unlimited bike rides every day. (Fees are charged at the PAYG rate after the first hour.)
Cork, Galway and Limerick
Cork, Galway and Limerick run their own city-wide bike sharing schemes. Bikes are available for rent at docking stations around the city. An annual subscription costs €10 with 3-day passes for €3. The first 30 minutes of your bike ride is free and hourly charges apply afterwards. See bikeshare.ie for more details on where to find the bikes and how to sign up for the bike share scheme.
Can I use an electric bike in Ireland?
New bicycle technology has brought a range of options for cyclists. Electric bicycles or e-bikes are growing in popularity and can be purchased under the Bike to Work Scheme. They can increase the distance of a cycling journey, allowing people on bikes to tackle more challenging hills and cycle further than they otherwise would.
You ride an e-bike (also known as a pedelec) in the same way as a normal bike but with the addition of a small motor to assist your pedal power. An e-bike will not move unless you pedal. A bike powered solely by electric or other engine power is defined in Irish law as a mechanically propelled vehicle. You can find out more about the law on e-bikes from the Road Safety Authority. E-bike conversion kits are also available to convert an existing pedal bike into an e-bike. However these conversion kits are not covered by the Bike to Work Scheme.
Ireland’s first dedicated greenway, the Great Western Greenway opened in 2012 and runs for 44 km, following the route of the Westport to Achill railway line which closed in 1937.
The Waterford Greenway opened in 2017 and runs 46 km from Waterford City to Dungarvan.
In Limerick the Great Southern Trail runs 36 km from Rathkeale to Abbeyfeale.
Athlone, Mullingar and Longford
The 40km Old Rail Trail in the midlands, links Athlone to Mullingar. At the Mullingar end, the Old Rail Trail joins the Royal Canal Greenway, which follows the route of the Royal Canal out of Dublin north to Clondra in Co Longford.
The Royal Canal Greenway is Ireland’s longest greenway. Cyclists can start their greenway cycling in Dublin and bike to the midlands, going north on the Royal Canal Greenway to Longford or continuing west along the Old Rail Trail to Athlone. This greenway is being developed. Updates on progress are available at royalcanalgreenway.ie.
Cork and Wicklow
Other greenway schemes are being planned in Cork and Wicklow. Developments include a 23km route linking Midleton to Youghal in Co Cork, and a 42 km loop around Blessington Lakes in Co Wicklow, taking in Russborough House and the villages of Valleymount, Ballyknockan and Lacken.