City council to increase capacity of bike stations

 

DUBLIN CITY Council is to increase the capacity of its Dublinbikes rental stations in the coming weeks because of the huge popularity of the scheme.

The council also has longer-term plans to introduce new station locations and increase the number of bikes available to users.

More than 16,000 people have subscribed to the scheme since it was introduced just six weeks ago, making it the most popular city bike scheme to date in Europe, according to the council.

“More than 11,500 people have registered for annual passes and around 4,000 for day or three-day tickets, so we’re absolutely chuffed with it,” council communications manager Michael Sands said.

There is also a very fast turnover of bicycles with an average usage time of 16-17 minutes. Rental is then free for half an hour and costs 50 cents for the first hour, rising to €6.50 for four hours.

However, the popularity of the bicycles and the rapid turnover has resulted in a shortage of bicycles at many stations and a shortage of free spaces to return bicycles at others.

“We’ve had six trucks going around trying to balance things out as much as possible, but what we’re going to do is expand what we have as much as possible with additions at some locations.”

Some of the most popular stations, such as Portobello, will see its bicycle spaces double; at other locations the number of additional spaces will depend on the amount of room surrounding the station. The increase in capacity may involve the removal of some on-street car parking.

The additional spaces will be paid for by JC Decaux, the out-door advertising company which won the contract to provide the bike scheme in return for advertising space in the city.

The council is also entering into talks with the company in relation to providing bicycle stations and additional bikes at new locations.

There are currently 450 bicycles available from 40 stations between the Royal and the Grand canals. However, there are locations where there would be a high demand for bicycles with no station, such as Heuston train station.

“For the scheme to work, a necklace of stations is needed and you can’t have a gap of more than 450 metres between stations. Heuston was a problem in that regard because the gap between it and the next location was too big, but we will seriously look at that now.”

The number of new stations and bicycles will be subject to negotiation with JC Decaux, Mr Sands said.

A mobile phone application which allows Dublinbikes users to see in “real time” the location of available bikes or spaces on a bike station is now available.

A similar application was launched last September, but was withdrawn after Fusio, the software firm which developed it, was threatened with legal action by JC Decaux.

The new application, which is an official JC Decaux product, is available to download for free from the Apple App Store Ireland.