Central Statistics Office (CSO) data shows that over 1 million bicycles have been imported into the Republic of Ireland between 2014 & 2016. The data sourced from the CSO’s Trade Statistics documents sourced at cso.ie show that the volume of bicycles imported are just ahead of the number of private vehicle imports over the same period.

Quantity of bicycles & cars imported into Ireland

Year No. of Bicycles € Value No. of Cars Value
2016 393,655 €29,174,000 440,979 €2,492,461,000
2015 338,869 €32,663,000 303,778 €2,269,737,000
2014 294,134 €30,528,000 204,651 €1,673,590,000
TOTALS 1,026,658 €92,365,000 949,408 €6,435,788,000

Popularity of Bicycles

Clearly the demand for bicycles in Ireland has remained strong over recent years. The long recession coupled with the government’s cycle to work scheme which provides a decent tax benefit towards the purchase of a bicycle, are likely contributors to the large demand for bicycles.


Make use of the bicycle fleet

Naturally the value of the cost of importing cars far outstrips the cost of importing bicycles. While the Irish state will generate significant VAT from bicycle sales, what car imports & sales taxes such as Vehicle Registration Tax (VRT) & VAT generate for the government is very significant. The short term tax gain from such taxes along with the regular motor tax income stream is a short term goldmine for Irish authorities & leads to short term thinking towards the development of road infrastructure which is essentially car centric throughout the country.

Ireland is not the only country in the world dealing with this type of challenge. Most governments in Europe & elsewhere derive significant taxation from the sale of cars. Cycling advocates are trying to show the longer term benefits which many are tangible & some require deeper long term analysis to show there are benefits. Clearly there is a substantial bicycle fleet in Ireland & encouraging more use of this fleet can deliver longer term benefits which will save the state significant amounts of money, these benefits include:

Lower healthcare costs: Much research shows that the more physical activity undertaken by the population e.g. through cycling & other activities, can save government health systems, social welfare systems & the private economy millions if not billions of euro through reduced serious disease such as diabetes & a reduction in lost working days for the economy through having a healthier workforce & general population.

Lower infrastructure costs: While investment is needed to upgrade existing infrastructure to support segregated safe cycling lanes, the upside is that such infrastructure is not subject to wear & tear degradation compared to road infrastructure used by motor vehicles which are much heavier loads on roads.

Lower transport emissions: Many countries including Ireland are looking for innovative & quick ways to tackle transport related emissions which are viewed as contributing to global warming. Through shifting the percentage of road users towards a bicycle as a modal share of transport for commuting, this in turn can reduce the number of car users for such commutes which leads to a reduction in transport related emissions.