Usage of public bike rental schemes in main cities down 5%

Usage of public bike rental schemes in the country’s four main cities fell by over 5% last year, despite the growing popularity of cycling as a transport mode.

Figures collated by the Irish Examiner show that overall number of journeys taken on the bike schemes in Dublin, Cork, Galway and Limerick dropped from almost 4.7m in 2016 to just over 4.4m last year.

The combined number of journeys across the four schemes was 4,441,028 — an annual decrease of 5.4%.

The latest figures show usage levels of Cork’s scheme fell by almost 4% to 280,439, while in Limerick the number of journeys decreased by 2% to 32,416.

The Dublin bikes scheme, where there have been almost 21.9m journeys since its launch in 2009, is regarded as one of the most successful urban bike schemes in the world.

However, usage levels fell by almost 6% last year to just over 4.1m trips, according to figures provided by Dublin City Council, which oversees the operation of the scheme which costs €1.9m to run annually.

There was also a slight reduction in the number of annual subscribers — down 1.5% to 67,023 — which might be linked to an increase in the annual charge from €20 to €25 in February.

According to Dublin City Council, 96% of all journeys are free as they are completed within 30 minutes. The average journey time is 15 minutes.

Galway was the only scheme where numbers increased during 2017 with total journeys up 73% to 23,706 — but still a daily average of just 65 trips on the city’s 195 bikes.

The National Transport Authority, which oversees the schemes in Cork, Galway and Limerick, said the growth in Galway followed the introduction of eight new stations last autumn including ones based at NUI Galway and Galway-Mayo Institute of Technology which brought the total number of stations up to 23.

“These new stations have been among the most popular since they opened,” the spokesperson said.

He described the fall-off in usage of the schemes in Cork and Limerick as “relatively modest.” The NTA said it would, however, analyse the numbers to see if there were any underlying issues which needs to be addressed.

“There are improvements to services in the pipeline and further investments planned for the schemes in both cities,” the spokesperson said.

The NTA said annual membership of the schemes had risen in all three regional cities and were collectively up 25% to 17,776.

The NTA said it was confident that the three schemes would be renewed after the expiry of the contract with its sponsor, Coca-Cola Zero, in 2019, despite usage levels considerably below original projections.

Original projections indicated average daily use of each bike in Cork, Galway and Limerick would be 3, 2 and 1.5 trips respectively. Last year’s figures indicate the usage rate was 2.3, 0.3 and 0.4 respectively.

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