Author: Shane Fitzgerald MIEI, chartered engineer, is a senior engineer with Arup in Dublin and is working with the National Transport Authority as the project manager for the regional bike share schemes in Galway, Limerick and Cork The Coca-Cola Zero Bike Share Schemes were deployed in Cork, Limerick and Galway in late 2014, and the multi-city project follows the dublinbikes scheme in the capital, which is widely regarded as one of the more successful in the world. The first dublinbikes rolled down the streets of Dublin in September 2009, with 440 bikes and 40 docking stations. This underwent a small expansion in 2011, bringing it to 550 bikes at 44 docking stations and last year (2014) the scheme almost tripled in size and now, with 1,500 bikes at 98 docking stations, the scheme is still growing in popularity, as demonstrated by the recent celebration of its 10 millionth journey. IMAG1558Although the National Transport Authority (NTA) funded the recent expansion of the dublinbikes scheme in 2013 and 2014, it considered that an expandable, multi-city, performance-based tender would best deliver an optimum bikeshare system for the next 10 years in the regional cities. Galway was the first city where the new Coca-Cola Zero Bike Share Scheme was  officially launched - on November 24, 2014; after more than two years of work on design, public consultation, procurement and construction, the public were finally able to hire the bikes from 15 locations around the city. (Four more docking stations will be constructed and opened later in 2015.) Limerick followed shortly thereafter and when officially launched on December 8, 16 docking stations were opened for use. At the time of writing, 21 docking stations are operating in Limerick, with a further two to be opened this year. The scheme was officially launched in Cork on March 2, 2015, although was partially and informally launched on December 18 with half of the docking stations open. Following an intense few months of construction, the scheme was completed and on launch day, all 31 docking stations opened with bikes available for hire. This was the third and final launch of the Coca-Cola Zero Bikes in the three regional cities. The three schemes have now been operating for a number of months and scheme membership continues to grow with encouraging ridership figures throughout the cold, windy and icy weather experienced during this time. Arup’s involvement in the project began in October 2012, when we were commissioned by the NTA to progress the schemes from feasibility stage through procurement to select a contractor to supply, install, operate and maintain the schemes. It was identified at this stage that the delivery of this project would entail a significant knowledge and experience with technology and ITS solutions and the project was therefore based in our smarter mobility group, which regularly combines technology, transport planning and engineering to a wide variety of projects. A significant array of technology combines in the background to facilitate the hiring and redistribution of the bikes in such schemes. Typically bike share schemes rely heavily on technology, requiring:

  • Monitoring (and presentation on a website and smartphone apps) of the real-time occupancy at all docking stations;
  • Interaction with:
  1. credit (and debit) cards;
  2. a customer database;
  3. a customer care centre;
  4. intelligent customer interface and controlled docking/unlocking of bikes within stations;
  • Monthly reporting on scheme performance, including usage and membership.
  Following the procurement phase, Arup was retained to act as the authorities' representative for the construction phase of the contract and subsequently to manage and assist the contractor throughout the initial operations phase. The project implementation was novel as it was the first time that the bike share scheme had been implemented in three cities under one tender. Delivering a scheme for the NTA, and the scheme sponsors Coca-Cola, in three separate cities, (each with its own local authority), provided some unique challenges. The project involved the management of construction at more than 70 sites simultaneously in three different cities, with three different sub-contractors as well as interfacing with the services and utilities providers, local businesses and residents, and other stakeholders. warner -IMG_1221The success of the dublinbikes scheme (along with other schemes in the UK with similar weather conditions) and the early encouraging initial hire rates from the regional cities demonstrates that such schemes do not rely on good weather to enjoy good ridership figures; either that or the weather in Ireland is better than we think it is. Once fully complete later this year, the initial deployment will see 740 Coca-Cola Zero Bikes available at 73 sites between the three cities, with 195 bikes in Galway, 215 bikes in Limerick and 330 bikes in Cork. Maps of the each of the schemes are available on the official bikeshare website, The main attributes for a successful scheme, other than the uncontrollables such as the weather and the potential ridership and their appetite for availing of the scheme, are high quality infrastructure (bikes and docking station equipment) and a reliable service (having both bikes and available docks at the locations that users need and want them); in this regard a public bike share scheme is just like a public transport system - good quality and reliable service will deliver good ridership rates.