By SiobhÁn Cronin
CLONAKILTY is set to become the first town in Ireland with its own bike rental scheme.
Mimicking the successful bike schemes in Dublin and Cork, but at a fraction of the start-up costs, the project will initially see 60 bikes available in 11 locations throughout the town, and in nearby villages, starting next week.
The red-white-and-green bikes, sponsored by local firm Clóna Dairies, can be picked up and dropped off at various ‘docks’.
Each dock is located at a local hotel, which means they are on private property and will have round-the-clock security and back-up.
As well as throughout Clonakilty, there will be docks at Inchydoney, Courtmacsherry, Rosscarbery and Dunmore.
The idea is the brainchild of a number of hoteliers in the town, spearheaded by Tom O’Donovan of O’Donovan’s hotel.
‘Clon is ahead of the game in a lot of areas – with the first Fair Trade town, the first elected Mayor, and now the first bike scheme,’ said Tom.
The bikes, which are each worth about €500, will come equipped with carrier baskets, gears and lights, and are designed to appeal to both locals and visitors. They will be available through a yearly membership, at €20 for locals, and at €10 for tourists and visitors. Users can avail of a special high-viz jacket, bottle of water, helmet and information booklet detailing cycle routes in the locality.
Many of the docks will be visible from the street but in areas where they are off-street, there will be signage directing users to the nearest docking station.
‘Because we don’t have expensive docking sites, like in Dublin or Cork, but rather on hotel property, we can run the scheme at a fraction of the cost of the city schemes,’ said Tom.
Each hotel will have access to a computerised spread sheet which will show the availability and location of each of the 60 bikes, and each hotel can check bikes in, or out, of their own docking station.
The scheme is aimed at the shopper who wants to zip around town for an hour or two, as well as the visitor who may wish to take the bikes further afield, or spend a day or two exploring the Clonakilty and wider area.
Tom says the scheme is based on a number of similar projects in small towns in the US, and the Clonakilty group approached big sponsors like Barclays and Coke, but are delighted to have secured support from a local firm like Clóna.
‘They will be called Clóna bikes now,’ Tom told The Southern Star.
The scheme will be launched on Thursday June 11th at 7pm at O’Donovan’s Hotel – which coincides with the opening of the third annual Clonakilty Bike Festival.