860,000 Cork bike scheme trips leads to calls for expansion to suburbs

860,000 Cork bike scheme trips leads to calls for expansion to suburbs
A public bike dock on Patrick St. Pic: Larry Cummins

MORE than 860,000 trips have been taken on public bikes in Cork since the scheme was introduced in 2015.

The bike scheme had clocked up some 11,500 members as of the end of 2017, too, with Leesiders embracing the scheme.

The scheme's popularity in Cork remains far higher than use in other regional cities, with Galway and Limerick lagging significantly behind.

This has prompted calls for the scheme to be expanded beyond the immediate city centre.

Currently, there are 31 bike stations with 330 bikes in Cork city. These are stationed between Kent Station and Fitzgerald's Park, with the most northerly station on Coburg Street. There are no docks available further south than St Fin Barre's Cathedral.

Demand continues to grow, with many calling for stations to be added to the major employment and shopping hubs in Wilton, Bishopstown, Douglas, Blackpool, Mahon and Blackrock to be added.

Seán Sherlock TD: Scheme should be extended to towns.
Seán Sherlock TD: Scheme should be extended to towns.

Cork-East TD Seán Sherlock raised the matter with the Minister for Transport Shane Ross in the Dáil in recent weeks.

Mr Sherlock sought details of the cost of expanding the service into other areas in Cork city and county and whether or not either Cork City Council or Cork County Council had submitted a request for such funding.

Mr Ross referred the question to the National Transport Authority, with the Cork-East TD still awaiting an answer.

Mr Sherlock said that expanding the scheme makes sense for the wider Cork area.

"All of the bike schemes are currently operating in cities but there is a demand for the scheme to be extended to towns," he said.

"We must encourage people, where possible, to consider leaving the car at home. For short journeys to and in town, a public bike scheme would be very popular."

Peter Horgan, the Labour local area representative for Cork city, said that the usage figures speak for themselves.

"It is a no-brainer to extend the scheme to the high-density employment and shopping centres surrounding the city centre," he said, pointing to the likes of Mahon, Wilton and Blackpool as just a few areas that could benefit.

Previous requests to the NTA have been rebuffed on the basis of the cost of expanding the scheme and the practicality of refilling bike stations in the wider city area.

Mr Horgan said, "The argument that replenishment of bikes is too problematic is one that I don't buy. It would open up a whole new route of cycling for people looking to visit Blackrock for instance and would boost tourism opportunities, both international and domestic, and help local businesses. There’s always an argument not to do something, but we can’t be blindsided by bureaucracy on this."

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