We’re back in the saddle again...

On Monday week in Galway city, the ride will most definitely not be out of the question. For the cost of a loaf, a pint of milk, and one of those old-style paid-for newspapers you’d buy for your granny, you will be able to ride your way around this city to your heart’s content.

To hell with carpooling, or buses or taxis, from the end of the month, if you have come to town and suddenly start slapping your pockets at the realisation that you have forgotten your bike, (as you do ) all will not be lost. From Monday week, the simply named Coca-Cola Zero Bikes scheme as brought to you by the National Transport Authority will see sexy bikes parked in strategically placed bike ranks, all available for you to hire for your journey across town.

Yes, the Coca-Cola Zero Tolerance I Cannot Believe It’s Not A Car Bike rental scheme will revolutionise the way we move in the city.

The ranks are to be known as stations, so we’ll have bus stations, train stations, and bike stations (to follow on from our airport discussion last week ).

Now if you stagger out of O’Connell’s pub and can’t be arsed to walk across the Square for a shnaccckkkkbox, for the price of the last pint you shouldn’t have had, you can take a year’s bike subscription, hop on a bike at the station near the train station corner of the Square and cycle the 300 yards to Supermac’s, where you can deposit the bike back into another station, repeating the journey later when you want to return to aforementioned hostelry.

For just a fiver a year, you will be able to use these bikes to get around the city. The annual fee is €10 but if you log on to www.bikeshare.ie, you will get a 50 per cent discount. And then the road is yours — Fresh air, the wind blowing in your face, the rain topping up your rosy complexion, no taxi driver telling ya something for nothing and the best way to shoot emigrants, no sitting in cold buses when you could be as free as a bird traversing the streets of the city.

When I say free, of course I mean free in a chancer sort of way. There is a charge for every journey you make — 50c for the first hour, €1.50 for two hours and so on and so on.

But here’s the beauty — the first 30 minutes of any journey are free, so you could spend the year traversing the city in a series of 29-minute journeys, and have only the annual charge of the fiver to worry about.

Of course taking short journeys for shnaccckboxxxes is not the idea behind the bike scheme. The good people at Coca-Cola have said that it’s our health they’re worried about (yeah right... ) No sniggering now ya hear, they mean it. Really, they do.

When you subscribe you get a card which you use to dislodge your bike from the rank, key in your PIN code, and then you have 60 seconds to dislodge your bike. Then take your 29-minute journey across the city, making sure to cycle in all the pedestrian areas as is mandatory in Galway; You can use your smartphone to find out how many bikes are available at different stations, but maybe don’t do this while cycling.

Do you have to be able to cycle a bike? Mweh, that’s not important right now. Sure even taking one out and pushing it around the city for 29 minutes will earn you kudos as a tree-huggin’ environmentalist protesting against oil cartels and capitalist greed. Oh, and then you realise it’s sponsored by one of the world’s conglomerates.

Of course, this scheme may also lead to bike snobbery, or ‘saddle envy’ with regular proper cyclists who actually OWN their bikes, thumbing their noses at the impoverished who have to rent theirs.

So get ready folks for dozens of bikes and dodgy cyclists running into you. Drivers should steer clear as they’re letting anyone ride a bike nowadays. .

Right, I’m off. See ye in...29 minutes.


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