Dublinbikes users get chance to plug into electric option

Rental scheme converting half its 1,600 fleet to e-bikes, with subscriptions at €95 a year

The Dublin Bike scheme is introducing new hybrid electric bikes. Half of the fleet of 1,600 bicycles will be e-bikes operated with a portable battery . Irish Times Dublin Editor Olivia Kelly reports. Video: Bryan O’Brien

 

From Monday morning the Dublinbikes rental scheme is going electric, with half of the fleet of 1,600 bikes being converted to e-bikes.

While the per-trip rental rates will not change, the annual subscription charge will increase considerably, to €95 for e-bike users, with those choosing to stick with standard bikes remaining on the €35 annual fee.

Also, unlike electric bike rental schemes in other international cities, users will have to carry and recharge a battery to use the e-bikes.

New Dublinbikes subscribers will have the choice of either a standard annual subscription or an annual subscription plus e-bikes, while existing Dublinbikes users can choose to add the e-bikes option to their current subscription.

Once subscribers sign up for the electric option, a portable battery weighing 530g will be delivered to them, normally within two working days. Following a 2½-hour charge the battery can be used for journeys of up to 10km before requiring a recharge.

Blue basket

The 800 e-bikes are identifiable by a blue basket at the front of the bike which contains the slot for the battery. While e-bike users have the inconvenience of having to carry a battery, standard users have the benefit of still having all 1,600 bikes available to them as regular pedal bikes.

The e-bikes do not have a throttle, so the pedals need to be rotating for the motor to kick in. The electric motor assistance is limited to a max speed of 25 km/h.

The battery from one of the new e-bikes, which users will have to carry and recharge themselves. Photograph: Bryan O’Brien/The Irish Times
The battery from one of the new e-bikes, which users will have to carry and recharge themselves. Photograph: Bryan O’Brien/The Irish Times
The time that we are launching it obviously isn’t ideal, but I think we will see a gradual return to work in the near future

Unlike the standard bikes that are fitted with a cable lock for locking between bike stations, the e-bikes have no temporary locking mechanism and must be returned to a station when not in use. However, operator JC Decaux said an electronic locking system, which will be activated using an app or by tapping an annual subscriber card on the handlebars of the bikes, will be enabled later this year.

While most Dublinbikes journeys are relatively short – between 15 and 18 minutes – and do not require significant exertion, the company said the e-bikes are likely to appeal to those wanting to get around with minimal effort.

“The reason we are introducing electric bikes is to give people an option for a more gentle cycle if they want to commute around town, where they are building up maybe less of a sweat getting to and from the office,” Tony O’ Flanagan of JC Decaux Ireland said.

The additional subscriber costs were necessary to cover the costs of providing the 800 bikes, changes to the IT system, and the provision of batteries, he said.

New subscribers

While there were currently fewer people in the city due to the Covid-19 pandemic, Mr O’Flanagan said he hoped the e-bike option would help attract new subscribers.

“The time that we are launching it obviously isn’t ideal, but I think we will see a gradual return to work in the near future and we hope then there will be more subscribers and we will build on that,” he said.

“We think that there are probably more people who would have an interest in this type of journey when they come into the city – that they want to go a little bit quicker, with a little bit less effort – and maybe some people who wouldn’t be normally interested in cycling might be encouraged to try it in this format.”