Evaluating Limerick Bikes: Is the scheme succeeding or failing?

COMMENT & ANALYSIS: Is Limerick’s bike scheme succeeding or failing? An Taisce Limerick asked this question recently, and it prompted JAMES GAFFNEY to do some digging.

I had a look at the Bike Scheme usage figures for subscribers and number of journeys across the five Irish cities in which they’ve been implemented: Dublin, Cork, Limerick, Galway and Belfast, and compared these with the populations of each city.

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Dublin’s scheme appears to be the most successful. Depending on whether you go by Dublin City, or Greater Dublin’s population size, either 1 in 9 or 1 in 22 Dublin residents subscribe to the scheme. In 2015, each Dublin subscriber made an average of about 70 journeys.

Here are the figures for all five cities:

  • Dublin City: 1 in 9 people are subscribers, making an average of 70 journeys each in 2015.
  • Cork: 1 in 16 people are subscribers, making an average of 39 journeys each in 2015.
  • Limerick: 1 in 38 people are subscribers, making an average of 17 journeys each in 2015.
  • Galway: 1 in 40 people are subscribers, making an average of 11 journeys each in 2015.
  • Belfast: 1 in 62 people are subscribers, making an average of 27 journeys each in 2015.

I used the data from a Transport For Ireland press release from February 2016 to come up with the above figures, and crunched them in this spreadsheet.

So it can be seen that Dublin by far has the most successful scheme, in terms of overall number of subscribers, proportion of the population who use it, and how often they cycle. It’s important to note that the Dublin scheme is also the longest established.

While Limerick has a slightly better take-up than Galway, and we make more journeys than them, the fact that Limerick people are not using the bikes as frequently as users in Dublin and Cork would suggest that Limerick users aren’t regular users. To approach the figures that Dublin has, people would need to use the bikes as part of their commute. This doesn’t seem to be happening in Limerick. Perhaps this could be addressed by putting more bike stations closer to where people live – the residential suburbs – allowing them to cycle to where they work.

IMAGE: Photo Credit: William Murphy via Flickr

James Gaffney is a member of the Green Party based in Limerick. This article was originally published on Facebook last month, it is republished here with permission.

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  1. I’m a bit surprised at the poor numbers for Belfast. It seems like quite a cycle friendly city and the motorists seem a lot better behaved (red actually means stop, not ‘just a couple more’).

    I did mention the public bikes to a taxi driver up there and he said that that sort of thing might work in Dublin with our big wide roads but it was a bad idea in Belfast because their roads were so narrow. We were on a road with very wide lanes, wider than most in Dublin, at the time.

  2. I’m also a bit surprised at the low take-up for Belfast, which seemed to me to be a much more widely-supported cycle scheme. That said, the average trip numbers are relatively high among the people who have signed up to the bikes.

  3. Unfortunately, the Limerick scheme is far too small in scope to be of much practical use. It doesn’t reach as far as any of the significant non-city centre destinations, like Dooradoyle, Castletroy, Corbally, LIT, UL etc. Obviously to achieve that range would need a massive increase in bikes and stations and they have to start somewhere, but it is a impediment to use.

  4. The first year of Belfast Bikes showed around 200,000 journeys, not the 143,222 used to calculate, so not quite like for like. But appreciate that it was the numbers available at the time! I’d say the next wave of expansion will help growth too.


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