THE public bike scheme which has just been launched in Limerick city will be available to the public by September, according to Transport Minister Alan Kelly.
The scheme which is being rolled out in Limerick, Cork and Galway will mirror the one in Dublin.
Speaking at the launch of the scheme Mr Kelly said that the scheme “is about to transform the city”.
“I know 100 per cent that this is going to be a huge success,” he added.
The scheme includes 215 bikes that will be available at 23 stations across the city.
Initially, the stations will be located in the city centre and Mr Kelly said that he hopes this scheme will be expanded further.
“In a year’s time I expect the local authority will be looking at expanding this with the National Transport Authority and the Department of Transport,” he said.
Mr Kelly said the public bike scheme will be first put in place in the city and then expanded to include UL, LIT and other areas.
“We will have changes to the route all the way from the city centre out to LIT. Between all that and the connection now with Patrickswell and also a cycleway to Nenagh, Limerick is certainly a cycling destination,” he added.
Mr Kelly said that at present there are plans and funding in place for a green-way out to UL.
“I would like to have seen it built a lot quicker,” he added.
Paul Crowe, director of services, travel and transportation with Limerick City and County Council, said public bike schemes work best in confined areas such as the city and that elongated routes cause problems.
This is due to the fact that docking stations for bikes must be in close proximity to each other in case they fill up.
“The submission is with An Bord Pleanála, it has been on public display and we look forward to an early decision from them,” he added.
The scheme is being publicly funded by the Department of Transport and privately by Coca-Cola Ireland.
The soft drinks company is sponsoring the public bike scheme and will invest €3m over five years.
Users of the scheme will make a one off yearly payment, which is expected to be to be similar to that of Dublin.
It has been indicated that this will be €20 or less.
Once the yearly payment has been made users can use the bikes for free for up to a half an hour and after a half an hour rental charges apply.