A vision for a ‘Bike Library’ in every school and GAA club in the country

It is the last few days for schools and sports clubs to seek nearly €40,000 in funding to run their own ‘Bike Library’, a concept which enables people to try a range of bicycles they might otherwise never have access to.

Francesco Pilla, a professor at the UCD School of Architecture, Planning and Environmental Policy, who has been involved in the rollout of Bike Libraries in Dublin, said he’d love to see the idea expand across the country.

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Pilla said: “I’d love to have a bike library in every school, GAA, and library in the country so I’d appreciate any support I can get. The NTA is already funding my bike libraries in 20 schools in Dublin and I’m hoping they will provide more funding next year to support more bike libraries.”

Pilla explained in a webinar (recording below) that the Bike Library project started with his frustration of trying to get around Dublin with his children.

“Whenever the schools are closed there’s no traffic — you just fly around. So, I thought there must be something that can be done to help parents have a choice to bring kids around to school or to the park or anywhere else,” he said.

He said that with the pilot programme in the Educate Together school in Harolds Cross in Dublin, he basically gave around 15-20 bicycles including electric bikes and e-cargo bikes to the school.

“Those parents committed to using them to bring the kids to school, then it started like a kind of peer pressure, it started as a school which was congested to the only people driving to school being teachers… I’m not saying it was just because of my bikes but I guess the bikes started something — the amazing goodwill of the parents made the difference,” he said.

With the help of the National Transport Authority, the programme has been rolled out to 20 schools in Dublin.

The current funding available is from ServiceNow’s community fund managed by ChangeX and it will support 3-4 bike libraries at nearly €40,000 per successful applicant.

If there is a lot of demand shown in terms of applications from clubs and groups, it would help Pilla seek further funding.

The funding application is available at changex.org/ie/bike-library with a deadline of October 6, 2023.

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