Local authorities should make no apologies to motorists for improving cycling infrastructure in city centres, Agriculture Minister Simon Coveney said yesterday.
Mr Coveney made the remarks at the official launch of the Cork bike share scheme at City Hall yesterday, where he was asked about the complaints Cork motorists have made regarding the new cycle paths in the city, particularly along Washington St.
“We’re prioritising bikes in the city,” said Mr Coveney.
“It’s as simple as that. Obviously there are safety issues and there is more work to be done to connect cycleways, but I don’t think we should be making any apologies to anybody for prioritising putting in cycleways into busy streets like Washington St that are wide enough to be able to carry that.
“Just like in Dublin, when people started using these bikes, people in cars found it frustrating. They had to adapt and change and be more aware of their surroundings because there are bikes and bike lanes. That change will have to happen in Cork too.”
Launching the scheme, which saw the last of the 31 bike stations in Cork switched on at City Hall yesterday, Mr Coveney praised the city council for the infrastructural changes made in the city in recent years.
“The progress in the last five years on cycleways in Cork has been enormous,” he said. “If you were trying to cycle around this city 10 years ago it would have been virtually impossible. We now have cycleways on multiple routes.
“Yes, there is still work to do to actually connect them up to each other, it’s not perfect, but it’s much, much better than it was,” he said.
“I think it is important to recognise progress here, we had no bike scheme in Cork up until a few months ago, we now have one. We had virtually no cycleways in Cork up until a few years ago, we now have them.
“It’s improving, it’s getting better, and in my view over the next five to 10 years, I think you’ll see huge numbers of people leaving their cars and using bikes to go to and from work, particularly in the summer months, and I think schemes like this will be supportive of that.”
There are 330 bikes available for public hire at a cost of €10 a year and free use for journeys under 30 minutes. The bikes can be found at 31 stations throughout Cork, from Kent Station to Gaol Walk, and from Griffith Bridge to the College of Commerce.
The scheme was the last of three regional schemes to launch since the end of last year.
Anne Graham, CEO of the National Transport Authority, said that, to date, more than 2,500 people have registered for the Cork scheme, 1,850 for Limerick, and 1,750 for the Galway scheme.
“Even though all three city schemes are still in their growth phases, the usage statistics to date are very encouraging,” she said.
“Over 11,700 rentals have already taken place in Cork, over 5,800 in Limerick and over 5,000 in Galway.”
For details, visit bikeshare.ie
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