Cork’s public bike sharing scheme has been a massive success.  The scheme demonstrates that bike sharing in Cork is an attractive, useful mode of transport that increases the share of cycling and walking of all trips. This is a key priority for the NTA and of government policy. So well has Cork’s bike sharing scheme been received that there have been many calls to expand the scheme, particularly to the suburbs to the east and south of the city centre, and towards CIT and CUH in the west.  The Cork Cycling Campaign would dearly love to see more people cycling, but we also want Cork’s public bikes to be a success. That means operating in accordance with established principles for successful bike sharing schemes to make it as viable as possible.

A phased expansion that builds on the strengths of the current bike sharing scheme and magnifies bike sharing usage is now needed in Cork.  An important reason for doing so is that larger bike sharing schemes are much more useful to users than smaller ones.  In Cork, it is also clear that moderating extending the scheme could encompass locations where very strong demand would be predicted.

According to the 2011 Technical Feasibility Report on bike sharing in Cork, Limerick, Galway, and Waterford, the factors which influence the success of bike sharing include:

  • levels of traffic congestion
  • topography
  • extent of cycle-friendly infrastructure
  • distribution of major trip attractors throughout the city

Expansion plans should select locations for new docking stations with these criteria in mind.  The locations also should serve major destinations and gateways into the city and, ideally, appeal to a mixed user base and promote bi-directional use.

A PROPOSED EXPANSION

Based on our local knowledge of traffic patterns, important destinations, planned residential developments, likely users, and local cycling routes, we suggest several potential docking station locations for a coherent expansion of the scheme. These locations would be expected to strongly increase the usage of the scheme because they would include (1) major trip attractors, particularly the college communities, and (2) pedestrian gateways into the city, which would make mixed mode walking and cycling an attractive proposition for many more people. Expanding the scheme would also lengthen bike rental trip times, which are relatively short in Cork.

These features of the proposed expansion will make it more attractive to existing users, draw in new users, and contribute towards higher usage rates for the scheme. In turn, higher usage would make the overall scheme more viable in the long term.

MAP LEGEND: Present (black bicycle markers) and proposed (green bicycle markers) docking stations in Cork’s bike sharing network.  Proposed sites are indicative only.  Docking station location name is available by clicking the station markers.

The features of the proposed locations are:

  • proximity to major trip attractors, particularly local colleges.  This is important because students are known to be strong adopters of bike sharing schemes and have also proved so in Cork. The proposed locations extend the scheme reach towards the western edge of UCC and towards St Johns Central College, the Cork College of Commerce, and the CIT Crawford College of Art. These locations are not served by the present network.  These colleges have over 25,000 students and staff between them.
  • high bidirectional use along College Rd between main campus and Brookfield Health Science Campus would be expected and could serve as a major intercampus connector for UCC (>20,000 students and staff).
  • proximity to cycle-friendly roads and neighbourhoods, such as the Mardyke Walk, College Rd, and Anglesea Street, which are characterised by decent quality cycle infrastructure or by low traffic volumes and speeds. The riverside path between Distillery Fields and Mardyke also illustrates how cycling opens up fast and attractive routes that are unavailable to motorised vehicles.
  • strong bidirectional bike rental traffic, reducing the need to redistribute bicycles and lowering the operating costs of the scheme.  In particular, many of the proposed sites are gateway locations for pedestrian traffic from the northside, southside, and western sides of the city, while also being located near strong trip attractors, particularly the colleges.
  • increased recreational and tourist destinations, particularly at the Lee Fields, Fitzgerald’s Park, and Mardyke Arena.
  • low gradients between stations, making cycling an attractive transport mode and ensuring even usage across the scheme.
  • increased visibility and much higher usage around the city’s higher educational institutions is expected to increase the attractiveness and value of the scheme to commercial sponsors.

Many of the proposed docking station locations echo the features of the most intensively used stations in the present network, the stations near Fitzgerald Park and UCC on Western Rd and several gateway locations on the north channel quays. These locations serve both college and commuters. Important evidence on usage of the current scheme comes from Philip Lowney’s online report Rebel County Cycling: The Cork Bike Share Scheme”. During the morning and evening commutes, the biggest gains & losses are those near UCC, Kent Station, and at the northern and southern extremes of the scheme. This evidence from the current scheme supports our proposed locations for the expanded scheme. It is therefore reasonable to predict a large increase in the use of the expanded scheme, particularly as it becomes more useful for commuting purposes, both in terms of origins and destinations.

The trip attractors, dominant user groups, and nearby cycling conditions of the proposed stations are listed in the table below. In summary, we believe that extending the scheme with docking stations in or near these locations will build on the strengths of the existing network, create a more robust and more useful bike scharing scheme, and contribute further to the attractiveness of cycling in Cork.

Table of proposed docking station locations and information about nearby trip attractors, users, and cycling conditions.

Station location
Trip attractors  Users  Cycling conditions 
County Hall / Lee Fields

Kingsley car park

 

County Hall, Kingsley Hotel, apartments (including large scale student apartments in planning at Victoria Cross and west of the County Hall)

Lee Fields park

County employees

Students

Leisure users

Tourists

 

Pleasant, fair quality shared walking & cycling path to Wellington Bridge

Good quality connection into city via Mardyke Walk (semi-pedestrianised, low traffic volumes, slow speeds) and Western Road (segregated counterflow bike lane)

Upper Mardyke

Mardyke: Upper Fitzgeralds Park

 

Fitzgeralds Park, UCC: main campus, Western Gateway Building, and Biosciences campus

Mardyke Arena

Gateway

Students & college staff

Leisure users

Residents (Gateway via the Shaky Bridge for residents living north of the river)

Tourists

Mardyke Walk (semi-pedestrianised, low traffic volumes, slow speeds)

Good quality connection into city via Western Road (segregated counterflow bike lane)

Linaro Avenue UCC Park & Ride

Dennehy’s Cross apartments and retail

Gateway

Students & college staff

College traffic between UCC and CUH

Residents (Gateway for Glasheen residents via off-road walkway along stream)

College Rd is characterised by slow traffic, traffic calming measures, and significant numbers of cyclists
Brookfield, College Rd

UCC-Biosciences campus

College Rd, UCC O’Reilly

UCC Medical campus

Bon Secours Hospital

UCC Biosciences campus

UCC Main campus

 

Students and college staff (with especially high bidirectional use expected between class changing periods)

Tourists in summer

College Rd is characterised by slow traffic, traffic calming measures, and significant numbers of cyclists
CIT Crawford School of Art

 

CIT Crawford School of Art

St Finbarrs Cathedral

St Aloysius Secondary School

Gateway

 

Students

Secondary school pupils

Tourists

Residents (Gateway for residents from Barrack Street, Glasheen, Greenmount, Deer Park)

 

Counterflow bike lane heading east along Quay

Bus/cycle lane heading west

Traffic heading north is quite heavy but slow.

Cycling conditions headed south are poor (heavy traffic, moderate gradient, complicated junctions, no accommodation for cyclists)

Distillery Fields

 

UCC Distillery Fields Campus

Mercy University Hospital

Tyndall National Institute

Gateway

Students and staff

Tourists

Leisure users

Residents (Gateway for residents from Sunday’s Well, Blarney Street, and NW city suburbs)

 

Excellent shared pedestrian/cyclist path along river – excellent short-cut towards Mardyke and UCC

Cycle lane headed south past Mercy Hospital

No cycling facilities along north quay until Popes Quay, where high quality, bidirectional, segregated cycle lane exists

Castle/Coal Quay Retail

Leisure (Pubs & restaurants)

Employment centres

Shoppers

Staff

Tourists

Slow traffic conditions

Semi-pedestrianised along Paul Street & possible shortcuts headed east

Bus/cycle corridor down St Patricks in the afternoons

Maylor St.

 

Retail

Leisure (Pubs & restaurants)

Employment centres

Shoppers

Staff

Tourists

Maylor Street & Plunkett are largely pedesrtianised.

Bidirectional, segregated bike lane along Parnell

Red Abbey

 

Nano Nagle Centre

UCC/CIT School of Architecture

Gateway

Students

Tourists

Residents (Gateway to Douglas street, Friar’s Walk, Ballyphehane neighbourhoods)

Quiet side streets until quays, where one directional cycle lane exists heading westerly
Opposite Morrisons Island

 

St Johns Centre College

College of Commere

Students

Staff

Heavy traffic, but cycle/bus lane headed west
Copley St

Sawmill Street

St Johns

Anglesea Garda Station

Courthouse complex

St Johns Central College

South Infirmary/Victoria hospital

Gateway

Students

Residents

Staff

Gateway to Turners Cross / Ballyphehane / Near East areas from the South Link

Good quality segregated bidirectional cycle lanes headed towards Parnell Place bus station