THE initial outlay for a public bike sharing scheme in the city centre will come from the Exchequer while ongoing funding could be met through advertising.
A public information session takes place at City Hall this Tuesday (2pm to 6.30pm) as the National Transport Authority begins a tendering process for the provision of bikes, docking stations and individual bike docks.
Due to become operational by autumn of next year, the scheme will initially have 200 bikes available to hire at little or no cost at 23 stations around the city.
Limerick Smarter Travel is a partnership between the City and County Councils and the University of Limerick whose winning submission to the NTA will see €9 million spent on sustainable transport projects in Limerick over the next three years.
“Part of our Limerick Smarter Travel bid was a Limerick Bikes scheme similar to DublinBikes,” explained Mr O’Neill, project manager, Limerick Smarter Travel. Consultants ARUP had been engaged and had deemed it feasible in Limerick, he added.
“It is now going ahead with a tendering process entered into to provide the infrastructure and we will have an information session from 2pm to 6.30pm at City Hall on Tuesday where we will listen to anybody who has any views or any concerns about it.”
DublinBikes allows members of the public to cycle around the capital without charge for 30 minutes, for 50 cent for up to an hour and for increasing amounts of up to €6.50 for four hours. It is funded by advertising firm JC Decaux in exchange for free advertising space.
Limerick would work with a different and “more flexible” model, Mr O’Neill said.
It would start out in the third quarter of next year with “23 docking stations at various locations around the city but the scheme will be designed in such a way that will make it very easy to extend if it proves a success”.
Bike racks would be portable and easy to relocate if certain sites were not working, Mr O’Neill said.
Funding for the infrastructure come from the NTA but Limerick Smarter Travel was examining ways of “getting some funding from advertising (on bikes and bike racks) to make it cost-neutral” on an ongoing basis.
While the attractions of such a scheme for students were obvious, Mr O’Neill said the University of Limerick would not be included at the outset.
“We don’t want a linear scheme that removes bikes out of the city centre and ending up in the university or the suburbs. UL is looking at its own bike sharing scheme but what we are planning at the moment is a city centre scheme,” he said,