In Praise of . . . Dublin Bikes

Sat, Feb 16, 2013, 00:00

Sometimes it’s the smallest things that have the biggest effect. The gargantuan construction projects of the Celtic Tiger have left us nothing but a mountain of debt, while modest initiatives have delivered a more positive legacy.

New playgrounds, the Liffey boardwalk, that sort of thing. And, most of all, if you’re a capital-dweller, the marvellous Dublin Bike scheme.

Born out of Gallic design flair – the first bike scheme was in Paris – and something of a Faustian pact with an advertising company that foots the bill in return for free poster sites, the Dublin scheme is going from strength to strength after four years .

This week, a major expansion was announced, which will see a tripling of the number of bikes involved and which promises to address the lack of east-west depth in the location of bike stations around the city.

The blue-grey Dubbikes are the Hummers of the bicycle world, weighty but reassuringly solid creations that cope admirably with the city’s potholed roads. The bike stations are a cinch to use – flash your card and you’re saddled up within the minute. For newbie cyclists, the always-on lights, generous baskets and chainguards provide added reassurance.

Dublin Bikes hasn’t done much to reduce traffic jams. Researchers have found most users would have walked or used their own bikes if the option wasn’t there. It’s also something of a middle-class phenomenon, to judge by the volume of businessmen wobbling along .

In other cities, the bikes have been vandalised, but in Dublin the fleet is impeccably maintained.