Under a proposal currently being worked on by local businesspeople, mini bicycle-docking stations, each holding about 10 bikes, will be located in the grounds of hotels in Clonakilty and surrounding areas such as Inchydoney, Dunmore, Rosscarbery, and Courtmacsherry.
In Clonakilty, the docking stations and their bikes will be painted in the town colours of green and red.
The scheme — a rural version of the popular urban bike rental initiatives currently in operation in cities such as Dublin, Cork, and Galway — will be the first of its kind in a provincial town, the organisers claim.
The docking stations and their overall complement of about 70 bikes will be accessible via the purchase of a special card, available to local residents and tourists. The scheme is estimated to cost in the region of €50,000,
The colour-coded bikes will come with safety helmets, high-visibility jackets, and a map of suggested routes.
Clonakilty hotelier Tommy O’Donovan, one of organisers spearheading the scheme, said it is expected to be a huge boost to the area as it will allow tourists to travel to picturesque outlying areas under their own steam.
The land around Clonakilty was relatively flat, with wonderful coastal views, he said, adding that, once the scheme takes off, it could be further developed with bicycle-only days and cycling events.
Each hotelier would maintain and manage their own docking station, he explained.
Organisers hope to secure funding from Cork County Council, as well as from the network of grants run by the West Cork Development Partnership
“We have the Bus Éireann service pulling up outside the door, and visitors getting off and saying they want to go on to Inchydoney or Timoleague — but there’s no bus to such places from Clonakilty,” said Mr O Donovan.
“However, if we had a bicycle scheme, they could use that.
“We’ve done our groundwork and there’s great interest in it.”
While it was initially hoped to have the project up and running for this summer, organisers have encountered an unexpected stumbling block in the insurance industry, which expressed caution about insuring a standalone project in a small town such as Clonakilty.
“We are now considering putting a proposal to Cork County Council,” said Mr O’Donovan.
“There are similar schemes in several big cities around the country, which have been very successful.
“We are looking to do this as a community project with some support from Cork County Council.”
Anybody interested in getting involved with the scheme, either through direct participation or through sponsorship, should contact Mr O’Donovan at O’Donovan’s Hotel, Clonakilty, on 023 8833 250.