Galway bike scheme brings 400 new wheels to city

Minister opens first stations outside Dublin with hopes of repeating capital’s success

The first bike rental scheme outside of Dublin has been rolled out in Galway. When the scheme is fully operational in the western capital, there will be 195 bikes for hire at 19 stations, all of them in and around the city centre.

The National Transport Authority is hoping the environmentally friendly plan will take off in Galway city and follow the success of the initiative in Dublin in recent years.

Minister for Transport Paschal Donohoe pointed out that further stations in outlying areas, such as Salthill, could be added in time.

Most of the 19 stations were completed ahead of the launch.

Users will pay a registration fee of €10 to subscribe to the service and pay charges if they rent a bike for more than 30 minutes at a time, but a discounted registration fee of €5 a year is on offer until the end of this year.

All of the bikes bear the Coca-Cola Zero brand name in line with the sponsorship deal with the soft drinks giant introduced in Dublin in June.

The company will also sponsor the bike scheme in Limerick and Cork, both of which will be launched before Christmas.

Coca-Cola is investing a total of €3 million in the bikes scheme over the next five years.

In May, the ‘An Rothar Nua’ consortium was awarded the €4.5 million contract for the provision of the scheme in Galway, Limerick and Cork.

Mr Donohoe described as “remarkable” the success of the scheme in Dublin, with the recent doubling of the number of stations and a trebling of the number of bikes to meet demand.

“The regional launch of the scheme, when complete, will see 740 bikes available for hire; 205 in Galway, 215 in Limerick and 320 in Cork. It is anticipated that each bike will be used three times per day on average, generating over 750,000 trips in the scheme’s first year of operation.

“This means fewer cars on the road, an increase in the use of a more sustainable mode of transport and health benefits for participants”, Mr Donohoe said.

He confirmed his Department would be looking at extending the scheme to other cities in the future.

The bike scheme “offers excellent value for money and allows people to glean all the benefits from cycling without ever having to own their own bike,” he said.

Deputy chief executive of the National Transport Authority Hugh Creegan said that the rollout of the scheme to Limerick and Cork over the next month would make Ireland one of very few countries with such a spread of city bike schemes.

The Galway Cycling Campaign welcomed the launch of the Galway City Bike scheme but criticised Galway City Council for its apparent failure to maximise the potential benefits of the plan.

The campaign said that existing bike parking facilities had been removed to make way for the Coca-Cola Zero stations and described it as “a regretful decision” in a city wihich is “underserved” in terms of bike parking facilities.

“Bike parking and docking stations for the Bike Share scheme can and should exist side by side”, said Oisin O’ Nidh of the campaign.

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