The bikes are available for hire at ten locations in Mullingar, including Dominick Street.

Bike for hire scheme won't be abused, says WCC

Westmeath County Council's new bike for hire scheme launched in Mullingar and Athlone this week won't be easy to abuse, an official says.

The public can now rent bikes in Westmeath's two largest towns for €1 an hour. There are 30 bikes in each town and they are spread around ten locations in each town.

When the announcement was made that Mullingar and Athlone would be the first regional towns in the country to have bike hire schemes, many speculated that the bikes would vandalised or stolen.

However, speaking on Midlands 103, environmental officer John Jackson said that there were enough preventative measures in place to prevent widespread abuse.

“Unless someone provides a payment option and enters their card details, they won't actually be able to unlock one of these bikes. You are responsible for the bike when you hire it. We can see where they are being used and how long they are being used for.

“The fact that they are so distinctive as well makes it very difficult to either sell them on or use them in any other situation.”

Cathaoirleach Frankie Keena believes that the bike hire schemes will be big additions to both towns.

"This is a good news story which will be a marvellous incentive in attracting extra tourists into the county, and it will also be of great assistance to residents as they move around the towns doing their daily activities," he said.

“This an initiative that I have been raising for quite a while now and I am just thrilled to see it coming to fruition”, said the Fianna Fáil councillor.

“The main purpose of the project is to encourage people to get out of their cars and start cycling.

"A review of the scheme will take place later this year so I urge everyone to use these bikes as often as they can," added Cllr Keena.