Why the Limerick/Cork/Galway bike scheme is failing

 

The usage levels of the Limerick public bike scheme showed a large decrease in the last year falling by 20%. The National transport Authority (NTA), whom run the scheme, cited improved bus services in Cork and Galway as a reason for a decrease in those two cities. They cited no reason for the decrease in the scheme in Limerick. The regular users of the scheme in Limerick already know the reasons for its failures. The bikes and stations are poorly maintained and unreliable; pedals fall off bikes during usage; gears don’t work; stations remain closed and have never reopened; Stations in Colbert station or LIT have taken, or are taking, years to materialise. To understand why the National transport Authority have facilitated and enabled this to happen we have to go back to the start of the scheme.

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Stop the press?

The 20th October 2017 was the day that Limerick changed for me.

I was sitting outside Melt café on Little Catherine Street awaiting a friend. It was a bustling Friday evening in town and we had plans to visit one of the many new bars and restaurants that had sprung up in the last few weeks. I sat and watched as streams of people walked by and for the first time in many years I felt like I was living in an active city. Actually, to place the change that has occurred in Limerick down to one solidarity day does a disservice to what our city has become over the last 12 months. There has been an expectant energy around the place and this seemed to culminate in a December full of hopeful promises to come. It seems apt that New Year’s eve sees the return of fireworks to Limerick as sparkle and spectacle are the only fitting end to a year when Limerick became sexy again.

Yet admist this expectation and prevailing vibrancy that has embraced our cities people, stands an institution that appears to want to drag Limerick back into the bleakest times in our recent history. A time where Limerick was ridiculed and a national stereotype. A time where the ‘values’ of the Catholic Church dominated leaving many excluded, rejected and ostracised. A time where deeply entrenched conservatism was forced upon Limerick’s usually dynamic people by its fading institutions. Continue reading

Where are the women in #liveableLimerick?

There is lots of discussion of late of making Limerick a liveable city. Most of this dialogue focuses on the architecture of our streets to transform Limerick into a modern urban oasis on par with other forward thinking European cities. While the built environment plays an essential role in shaping our culture and the wellbeing of citizens, it is the attitude and beliefs of its people that make a city as liveable as it can be.  Something that struck me during the #liveableLimerick discourse was how much of this conversation was dominated and shaped by men. From media commentators, to consultant architects, to city councillors, to sports and comedy stars, an androcentric debate developed that very much mirrors the current state of our urban fabric.  A fabric that maintains a pervasiveness of sexism existing throughout our city. A sexism not usually seen by men, and some women, in our everyday lives because it is such a habitual way of being in Limerick. Continue reading

Limerick, we still need to talk about suicide

Last month I moved into a new apartment overlooking The Shannon and for the most part, living beside the river in Limerick is wonderful. There are early morning rowers, moonlit city tours by kayak, Sunday strollers feeding the swans and stunning river views completely unique to anywhere else on this island. On announcement to my friends and families that I was setting up home in an apartment close to Thomond Bridge I was met with cries of concerns. Would the rescue helicopter not wake me at night? How will I feel with the continual sirens and patrollers outside my bedroom window? How could I live so close to such a tragic place?

A quick review on river activities over the last few months makes it obvious to why my move would elicit such a response in so many Limerick people I encountered.

#BREAKING Body Discovered at River in #Limerick

#BREAKING Emergency services in #Limerick are at O’Callaghan’s Strand slipway following the discovery of a body

Suicide patrols on the double in Limerick after dispute

Limerick suicide patrol works on resolving bitter split

 Heroic volunteers respond to suicide in West Limerick

Over the last year Limerick has seen a proliferation of suicide prevention groups, alongside local news outlets that still persists with front page news coverage of suicide in the River Shannon. This is despite all evidence suggesting that ceasing reporting on suicide could significantly reduce suicide rates[1].

The emergence of various suicide prevention groups over the last few months has garnered much attention and praise within the Limerick community. Continue reading

Introducing the panpipe guy

A Saturday morning in Limerick conjures up many images for most. Meeting friends in The Milk Market, stopping for a bun in Bean a Ti, picking up the latest read in O’Mahony’s, with an accompanying soundtrack of the hustle and bustle of weekend city life. Yet, there is one sight and sound so constant in our Saturday Limerick rituals that it is often overlooked. Be it walking through Bedford Row or strolling up Cruises Street, the distinctive timbre of panpipes accompanying a taped backing track of ‘My heart will go on’ and other classics, is a staple with Saturday city-goers.

As I sat and waited for an opportunity to meet the man behind this distinctive sound, I reflected on the numerous occasions I have walked passed, barely glancing and failing to recognise the skill required in playing a wide array of panpipes and flutes.  I was surprised at the number of passers-by stalling to listen to the music, taking videos  and browsing through the cd’s for sale.Even more unexpected was meeting Luis Shanakan, a spirited, passionate and affable man from Ecuador, that has made Limerick his home. Continue reading

Introducing the badass lady

It’s 7.40pm on a Wednesday evening, 20 minutes before closing time in Badass Burittos, Catherine Street. I walk in to do an interview with the owner, Mags Nash, aka Buritto Lady, whom has adopted an unlikely position as one of Limerick’s most controversial characters of late. It’s a hot, balmy night in Limerick and I expect us to have the place to ourselves.

Burrito lady
badass lady

Through the course of the interview we are interrupted five times by customers, some travelling in from the suburbs to get their fill of what they describe as ‘Limerick best burritos’. Rocky, a regular customer, comes back in for seconds and bemoans the fact it is now closed on a Sunday, depriving him of what he describes as his weekend ‘cheat’ meal. When he mentions the lack of Sunday opening Mags gives me a self-deprecating look and with the same jovial banter she uses with her customers, she suggests we start with just one of the contentious issues that has made her one of Limerick’s most talked about women in recent weeks. Continue reading

Latest Limerick Bike Scheme Stats

25656755705_7dafeb980d_kThese statistics (NTA letter on coca cola bike scheme) sent to Limerick Underground today will be of interest to any cycling advocates and enthusiasts in the city! This picture shows the usage of each station in the Limerick bike scheme from November 2014 to February 2016.  The last updated figures were published in September 2015, with an additional 12,146 journeys taken since then. It  looks like Mary I is still the most popular station in the city.

IMG-20160407-WA0000

LU also tried to find out the total contribution so far by Coca-Cola to the scheme. This is considering Coca-Cola covers only €300,000 of the estimated €1.92m annual cost of the Dublin Bike scheme.   Unfortunately,we were met with a fairly standard response that ‘Coca-Cola Ireland is contributing €3 million over 5 years for the regional schemes in Limerick, Cork and Galway’. We’ll keep digging for actual numbers though.

In the meantime, any budding statisticians out there with time on their hands,  feel free to let us know your thoughts on these figures and what it may mean for future cycling in the city.

 

Limerick, we need to talk about suicide

There was a time in my life when the sound of an approaching helicopter conjured up images of holidays, glamour and adventure. Then three years ago I moved back home to
Limerick and took up a job with a company located near the banks of the Shannon River. Now, the dreaded drill of helicopter rotors evokes feelings in me of death, distress and despair.

Lisaslightbridge

The sight and sound of the Coastguard rescue chopper is a regular occurrence in this city and it is not hard to see why. Limerick appears, at least anecdotally, to have one of the highest suicide and self-harm rates in the country. Alongside this, we have increasing numbers seeking support for depression and related disorders.  It is safe to say that Limerick city and its people are in a state of emotional distress.

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