A new Bike Library initiative has been launched in Dublin allowing families to try different ways of cycling while saving money in the long run.
he project, run by the National Transport Authority (NTA) in partnership with UCD, will let families borrow an e-bike, cargo bike or foldable bike for free during the school term.
The “try before you buy” project hopes to encourage families to make a permanent modal shift to sustainable travel for their daily commute.
Anne Graham, CEO of the NTA, said: “You can borrow a bike at no cost, as if you’re borrowing a book from the library, try it out and see if it works.
“Then they may consider leaving the car behind, investing in the bike, and using, ultimately, the cheaper option in the long term.
“The more active you are, the more health benefits. Our drive is to reduce carbon emissions from travel.
“If you use a bike and encourage your children to use a bike, then that means they might travel sustainably in the future.
“Women in particular tend to be a bit more nervous about cycling and their safety. The government is investing hundreds and millions every year to improve our infrastructure.
“It will take a few years, but projects like this encourage people to cycle. You’re never too old to learn. You can go to a safe environment like a park and practice. You’ll find you’ll enjoy it.
“You don’t need a license to cycle. There are projects in schools on how to cycle and to do it safely. There are huge benefits to being active and cycling on a daily commute,” she added.
Minister for Transport, Eamon Ryan added: “Cycling to and from school helps to develop active travel as a lifestyle habit from an early age – and children generally love to cycle.
“However, one of the barriers to getting some children on their bikes can be the fact that their parents don’t have a bike or much cycling experience, leading to a lack of confidence to make the shift away from private cars for the daily commute.
“This Bike Library project can change that and, hopefully, will lead to a permanent modal shift for the school run for many families.”
Ten schools will take part in the project in the spring/summer term this year, including Assumption Senior GNS, Walkinstown; Assumption Junior School, Sisters of Charity, Walkinstown; John Scotus Primary School, Ballsbridge; and Scoil Íde Girls’ National School, Coolock.
The bikes are provided and managed by UCD, and the project is funded by the Department of Transport through the NTA’s Active Travel Programme.
The founder of the Bike Library project, Professor Francesco Pila, UCD said: “It’s about giving families an option, an alternative to their own private cars, in the hope they would cycle to school rather than drive.
“If you have a kid, you either drive or walk because the bus can be a bit of a nightmare. Whenever schools are closed, you fly through the city because there’s no traffic.
“This project is about taking that portion of cars away from the road and replacing them with bikes.
“Children are the most vulnerable to air pollution. It increases their chances of getting respiratory diseases such as asthma. It’s important to do something to protect the children from this.”
Locals who have availed of the rental scheme are already seeing the benefits of cycling and are hoping to invest in a bike after being able to borrow it before buying.
Fiona Connelly said: “I’m using a bike rental from Harold’s Cross Educate Together School. It has changed the way we cycle.
“I’ve never had an ebike before and it cancels out the weight of the kids, the weather, bad winds so it’s comfortable cycling.
“I do about 50km a week. I’ve three children in three schools so it’s handy. I don’t have to park up in a car, I can cycle right up to the drop off points. Before, I had me on two wheels and a clatter of children behind me.
“It was way more stressful and more dangerous. It’s safer in this because they’re seat-belted in; it makes the commute less stressful.
“A lot of pedestrians or people in cars always look and smile at them. Cars seem to be extremely friendly to the cargo bike, they’re very tolerant, they wave you on.
“It brings a lot of joy into the community, people wave and smile when they see it, it makes everyone happy.
“We’d use it to do the grocery shopping and take it to football matches. It’s amazing for playground trips too,” she added.
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