Pedal power! Cork’s hit Bike Scheme all set for expansion

Cork Bike Scheme is to be extended with ten new stations. Sarah Thatt-Foley Senior Public Affairs Executive Cork Chamber talks about the success of the scheme and opportunities ahead in promoting cycling as a commuter option
Pedal power! Cork’s hit Bike Scheme all set for expansion
Pic; Larry Cummins

TEN new bike stations will be added to Cork’s public bicycle network by the end of 2019. This was confirmed by the National Transport Authority last week in response to our call for further investment.

The expansion comes after more than one million journeys were clocked on Cork’s shared bikes in 2018, four years after the scheme’s launch in 2014. In Cork alone, more than 270,000 journeys were made on 330 rented bikes in 2018: more than twice the figure for Galway and Limerick combined.

Cork in Numbers

Given the size of Cork City, it is no surprise that the public bike scheme has been a huge success.

Benefitting from a flat and compact city centre, the NTA estimates that the average Cork trip was 1.5 kilometres. You can practically cycle anywhere within the city centre in less than ten minutes.

Yet, Census 2016 revealed that only 3% of commuters in metropolitan Cork cycle to work. This despite that half of all commuter trips in Cork are less than five kilometres. So in Cork we have great scope for promoting cycling as a commuter option. In fact, the last Census showed that cycling already has become much more popular among Irish commuters. Of all transport modes, cycling has seen the greatest share increase, having grown by 43% since 2011.

Sarah Thatt-Foley Senior Public Affairs Executive Cork Chamber
Sarah Thatt-Foley Senior Public Affairs Executive Cork Chamber

What our Members Say

In 2017, we asked our members about their usage of the Cork public bike scheme and appetite for growth. The survey found that 62% of businesses use their private car when accessing or travelling through the city, followed by 15% cycling.

Of those using the scheme, 27% said they use public bikes to travel between meetings. At Cork Chamber, we believe this number can be grown substantially.

Within our own team, we offer everyone Coke Zero Bikes subscriptions and bicycle helmets are always available at reception. This small but significant step has meant that many of our meetings in places such as Cork City Council and UCC are now accessed by bike rather than by car.

Across our membership in both Cork city and county there is equally strong appetite for using the bike rather than a car. 85% of our members state that they would use Cork’s public bike scheme if it was expanded. In our discussions with businesses in Little Island, the opportunity for rolling out a Little Island public bike scheme to reduce traffic volumes has also been raised, highlighting how cycling should not be reserved for the city centre only.

When asked to identify areas for new stations the most popular locations were:

1. Blackrock and Douglas

2. CIT

3. Blackpool

Carbon Neutrality

It is now clear that Ireland will not reach its 2020 climate targets and fines will soon come our way as a consequence thereof.

As a city, region and country, we can do much better when it comes to promoting sustainable transport and facilitating a shift to a cleaner environment.

Ensuring bikeable cities presents one of the greatest opportunities towards carbon neutral environments.

In Scandinavian cities, 98% of people using public transport begin their journey on foot or by bicycle. The opportunity exists to replicate this in Cork, connecting residential zones to commuter hubs and commercial activity while enabling a more active, healthier and happier workforce.

Ten new stations are a welcome first step. Now we need to focus on the next ten.

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