‘Intelligent’ bike-sharing scheme begins at NUI Galway

First such scheme outside of Dublin

Laura O’Connor and Eleonora Fetter with two of the purple bikes that are part of the new cycle-sharing scheme in Galway.

Laura O’Connor and Eleonora Fetter with two of the purple bikes that are part of the new cycle-sharing scheme in Galway.


Smart staff and students are adapting to “intelligent” bikes within NUI Galway (NUIG) this week as the university initiates the first cycle-sharing scheme outside of Dublin.

The 45 bright purple bikes are also the first of their type on an Irish university campus, according to NUIG, and do not require heavy docking stations - unlike the Dublin bike system.

Each bike has been fitted with its own set of “brains” – as in an integrated keypad which accepts an access code and “on- board” global positioning system (GPS) tracking.

Students and staff can pay a €10 annual registration fee. Their use for the first 30 minutes is free with a sliding scale of charges, ranging from 50 cents an hour to €6.50 for up to four hours, and €2 for every half hour exceeding four hours thereafter.

A northern British company, Grand Scheme, which is associated with similar initiatives in Oxford and University of Sunderland, has secured the NUIG contract, while a local company, West Ireland Cycling, will provide maintenance.

Eight self-service stations are in place across the 102-hectare campus on the banks of the Corrib, extending from the library to the university sports centre and beyond.

The GPS tracking tells riders how far they have travelled and records whether bikes are returned to dedicated racks at the end of the hire, as they are for use on campus only.

The SPIN campus bikes are part of NUIG’s green campus initiative, encouraging sustainable transport for 1,500 staff, 500 researchers and 17,500 students on the register. A park- and-ride bus facility is already in place.

NUIG vice-president for student experience Pat Moran said that the scheme “sits within NUIG’s wider vision of a sustainable, green campus as outlined in its travel plan 2011-2014” and was “an eminently practical way for both students and staff to make their way around a campus that has grown considerably under the university’s capital investment plan in recent years”.

Grand Scheme Bike Share Ltd chief executive officer Rob Grisdal said that putting the technology on the bike rather than on the street in heavy docking stations yields “a lot more data about how the scheme is being used and the whole system is more flexible”.

Last May, Dublin city councillors approved a €35 million expansion of the Dublin bike scheme, with 950 new bicycles and 58 additional hire points.

Construction work is due to begin next month on the extension of bike stations to Kilmainham in the west of the city and to North Wall Quay on the east. Dublin bikes have been available for hire since September 2009 and the scheme has since been extended to 550 bicycles at 44 locations.

Galway is one of several cities identified by Minister for Transport Leo Varadkar as suitable for bike-sharing.