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 are likely to have to share road space with other vehicles. There are some separated cycle paths in towns and cities, popular recreational routes on smaller rural roads and a growing network of rural greenways. These are dedicated off-road routes for walkers and cyclists. A number 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||If you book a ticket online, you can add a bike to your booking free
of charge. However if you already have a ticket issued, and then decide
to bring a bike, you may be charged for a ‘seat only reservation’.
Some restrictions apply to services to and from Heuston station. You cannot bring a bike on Heuston trains from:
Folding bikes (that are folded and covered) can be carried on all InterCity services free of charge.
|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:
Folding bikes (that are folded and covered) can be carried at all times free of charge.
|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
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.
|Dublin Bus and Luas tram||
You will not be allowed to bring a 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 five major bike share schemes.
Dublin Bikes are available to anyone over the age of 14. An annual subscription costs €25 and a 3-day ticket costs €5. Dublin Bikes has over 65,000 long-term subscribers.
A registered user can use a Dublin Bike for free for the first 30 minutes after unlocking it from a station. After the initial 30 minutes you are charged increasing amounts from 50c per hour to €4 per hour depending on the length of time before you return the bike to a locking station. Dublin Bikes has more than 100 stations across Dublin. You can link a Transport for Ireland Leap Card to a Dublin Bikes account by registering at Dublinbikes.ie.
BleeperBike Ireland is a new 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. Annual membership of €75 allows for up to four hour-long bike rides every day. Day passes are available for €8 at bleeperbike.com.
Cork, Galway and Limerick
Cork, Galway and Limerick operate their own city-wide bike sharing schemes. Bikes are available for rent at docking stations around the city. Annual subscription costs €10 with 3-day passes for €3. The first 30 minutes of your bike ride is free and hourly charges of between 50c and €4 per hour apply after that. 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 (pdf) 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 currently covered by the Bike to Work Scheme.
Ireland’s first dedicated greenway, the Great Western Greenway opened in 2012 and runs for 42 km, following the route of the Westport to Achill railway line which closed in 1937. The Government has allocated funding to extend the Great Western Greenway to Bunacurry on Achill Island which will lengthen the route to 56 km.
The Waterford Greenway opened in 2017 and runs for 46 km from Waterford city to Dungarvan. Funding has also been granted to extend the Greenway into Waterford city, an extension that will add a further 2 km.
In Limerick the Great Southern Trail runs for 36 km from Rathkeale to Abbeyfeale. Funding has been announced to extend this route to Listowel and Fenit in Co Kerry.
Athlone, Mullingar and Longford
In the midlands, the 40km Old Rail Trail 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.
When the Royal Canal Greenway is complete it will be Ireland’s longest greenway. Cyclists will be able to start their greenway cycling in Dublin and bike to the midlands, choosing to go north on the Royal Canal Greenway to Longford or continue west along the Old Rail Trail to Athlone. 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.