Labour’s candidate for the Ennis electoral area Seamus Ryan is calling for a community bike scheme to be introduced across the county.
Referring to similar schemes in operation in Limerick, Galway plus the West Cork Community Cycle Scheme in Clonakilty, Seamus maintained there would be many benefits if brought to Clare.
“As we see every year there is an increase in the number of tourists that want a green alternative to driving around to see the sights. Developing rental stations in the different towns and villages around the county where you can drop off and pick up a bike easily and conveniently will give Clare the opportunity to market itself more distinctly to this environmentally conscious tourist. This is especially relevant as Failte Ireland are aggressively marketing walking and cycling routes here in the county and promoting them as offshoots of the Wild Atlantic Way, we need to be finding more ways to boost the tourist spend in the county and attracting people to stay longer.
He predicted an increase in tourism spend would occur if more tourists were on bikes. “With 1.5 million tourists flocking to the Cliffs last year too many of them just get back on the bus or into the car and head away, making little to no impact on the wider Clare economy, this needs to change. Here in Ennis and in Shannon there is scope for people cycling to work or the shops instead of bringing the car, this sort of healthy activity is great exercise and allows people save money and time.”
Ryan stated that a large population was not essential to establishing the bike scheme. “There is an idea out there that a scheme like this needs to be in a city to work but that’s not the case. A great example of this is the scheme running in Clonakilty which has a population of around 4,500 people and has been running for several years now. It has worked in conjunction with a few local businesses to find locations and storage for the bikes and has become a launch pad for further tourism in West Cork. There is no reason that a collaborative scheme like this cannot be gotten off the ground, all it needs is a central stakeholder and I believe that Clare County Council could fill that role. A community bike scheme like this would be viable in the Ennis area as there is a recognised demand for alternative forms of transport. A recent feasibility study shows that there is a desire for a community bus service in the Ennis/Clarecastle Area and a service like this would be a great addition to the town”.
“It’s disappointing that the work done on sections one and three of the West Clare Railway Greenway have not been linked up due to disagreements with landowners about the route, there are some more immediate concerns around the visibility of cycle lanes already in existence in the county and indeed the awareness that cycle lanes even exist in some places. I have met with people who have had narrow escapes cycling on designated cycle lanes, particularly between Ennis and Shannon with serious damage done to their bikes by drivers who didn’t know there was a cycle lane in operation, there needs to be better signage and awareness for all of our sakes,” the Labour candidate concluded.