Plans for a radical redesign of the Dublin Bikes rental scheme to bring it to "urban villages" such as Ballymun, Finglas,Terenure and Ballyfermot are to be drawn up by Dublin City Council.
Six years ago the council proposed a 14-stage expansion of the scheme over a five-year period from 2011-2016. Under the plan new bike stations would radiate outwards from the city centre, where the scheme was introduced in 2009.
Despite the growing demand for the service, the expansion has yet to expand beyond phase two, which brought the bikes to the docklands and to Heuston Station.
The project has largely stalled due to the difficulties in identifying suitable advertising sites to fund the costs of the expansion, the council said.
The council plans to review its expansion strategy to include the fast-track delivery of bikes to the suburbs or urban villages instead of gradually widening the station area from the existing core.
Under this proposal the bike stations would be located at intervals along primary routes from the city centre to the urban villages in an “octopus” shape rather than expanding out in a gradually widening circle from the city.
The expansion would require a "sustainable longer-term funding model of significant order of magnitude", said assistant council chief executive Jim Keogan.
“The council’s corporate policy group agreed we would carry out a review of the strategy with a view to targeting the expansion of the scheme to the suburbs. In tandem with this we would prepare a new outdoor advertising strategy.”
Mr Keogan said the new strategy would utilise “new advances in digital technology” in the form of advertising display screens at main access routes into the city, including near junctions of the M50.
Extending the service to any suburb would be contingent on that area accepting the advertising units, said Fianna Fáil councillor and corporate policy group member Paul McAuliffe.
“There would have to be a quid pro quo here. If a community is taking the advertising they will have the benefit of the bike service. I would envisage that there would be areas of the city actively competing for the advertising so their community would get bikes.”
Mr McAuliffe, who also chairs the council’s economic development committee, said there was a “huge appetite” in the suburbs for the bikes as a public transport alternative, particularly where there was no local bus services between neighbouring urban villages.
"The system could be used to link urban villages and visitor attractions. For example, a natural route from the current Mater hospital station would be to locate stations in Phibsborough village, then Hart's Corner, then the Botanic Gardens, and so on out to DCU and Ballymun."
He said the advertising strategy and the tenders for the new sites could be prepared next year, with the suburban bike stations in place from 2018.