Visitors to Antrim’s Castle Gardens can look forward to a wheely different way of viewing the site thanks to a new council venture.
Local councillors last week approved plans to dust off two tandem bicyles, which had been gathering dust in storage at Mossley Mill for a number of years, to create a new bicycle hire service in the gardens.
At Monday night’s Operations Committee meeting, Ursula Fay, Head of Arts & Culture, explained that the bicycles had been purchased a number of years ago for a promotional campaign by the former Newtownabbey Borough Council, and had since been in storage.
Referring to the existing Castle Carriage service in the gardens, which hires out four-seater and six-seater carriages, Ms Fay said the tandem bikes would add to the service.
“With the success of the Castle Carriages, this is an opportunity to look at adding to the visitor experience and generate additional income, albeit small,” Ms Fay said.
Proposing council accept the recommendation for the new service, Councillor Jim Montgomery said it was a “great idea”.
Councillors Neil Kelly and Drew Ritchie spoke of the health benefits of cycling, though both asked to ensure the bikes would have bells for the benefit of pedestrians in the gardens.
In a report presented to the committee, it noted that a cycle carriage hire service operates in the Castle Gardens, which is owned by Castle Carriages and operated from the shop in Clotworthy. The report notes that the council receives 5% commission for all sales.
The report adds that given the popularity of the carriages with garden visitors, the popularity of cycling in general and the opportunity to introduce an added fun attraction into the Gardens it is proposed to introduce a tandem hire service using these bikes which can also operate from the Clotworthy shop.
It is proposed that the bikes can be hired throughout opening hours for 45 minute session at a charge of £4 per tandem.