THE roll-out of the much-heralded public bike scheme across the city centre has been delayed until the end of the year, it has been confirmed.
The scheme, which was officially launched by Minister Alan Kelly in July, will see 215 bikes being made available for public rental at 23 docking stations across the city centre.
The first of the stations were due to be installed and operational by the end of this month but difficulties in appointing a contractor have resulted in the project being delayed by several months.
Pat O’Neill, senior engineer at Limerick City and County Council, says the procurement issues have been resolved and that works to install the docking stations are now expected to begin in the coming weeks.
“A contractor has been appointed and he will be on site in two to three weeks. The foundations will be put in for the docking stations then and the docking stations will follow that,” he said adding that it is hoped the scheme will be up and running by the end of November.
“It’s very difficult to put a timeframe on it because there is a lot of fabrication to be done as well and considering there is Dublin, Cork, Galway and Limerick all on it we hope to have it in by the end of the year,” he said.
The public-bike scheme, which is similar to the scheme already in operation in Dublin, is being jointly funded by the Department of Transport and Coca-Cola Ireland.
The soft drinks company has agreed a sponsorship deal worth around €3m which will see the “Coke Zero” brand emblazoned on both the bikes and the docking stations in Limerick Cork and Galway.
It is estimated the public-bike scheme which will cost around €1.25m a year to operate.
Similar to the scheme in Dublin, users in Limerick will have to make a one-off annual payment, which is expected to be less than €20.
Once payment has been made, registered users can then use the bikes for free for up to a half an hour with rental charges applying for longer journeys.
For the initial roll out, docking stations stations will be located in the city centre with locations including Roches Street, Johns Square, Pery Square, O’Connell Avenue, Clancy Strand, Bank Place and Bedford Row.
Users will be able to take bikes from any of the docking stations before leaving them at the station nearest the end of their journey.
Subject to public demand, it is expected that once the public bike scheme is up and running, it will be expanded to include other parts of the city such as Moylish, the Ennis Road and Dooradoyle.