Dublin bike hire scheme set to treble in size


PLANS FOR a threefold expansion of the Dublin bike scheme, the first since the rental bikes were introduced to the city three years ago, will be finalised within weeks.

Work to treble the number of bikes from 500 to 1,500, and more than double the number of stands where they can accessed from 44 to 100, will begin before the end of the year, Dublin City Council has said.

The new bike stations will initially be installed east of the current stations towards the Docklands, and west to Heuston Station.

The provisions of the 56 new stations and 1,000 bikes will be the first phase of a five-year expansion plan to increase the number of bikes to 5,000 and the number of bike stations to approximately 300.

This expansion, radiating out from the current 44 city centre stations, will bring the bikes into the suburbs as far as DCU to the north of the city, UCD to the south, Inchicore to the west and Sandymount to the east.

In the region of 70,000 subscribers have signed up to use the bikes since the scheme began operating in September 2009, making it one of the most successful city bike rental schemes in Europe.

The bikes and their pick-up and drop-off stations have thus far been funded by outdoor advertising company JC Decaux, which won the contract to provide the bike scheme in return for advertising space in the city.

The expansion will not be funded by the advertising company. Work to start the first phase of the extension to Heuston and the Docklands will be funded using a grant of €500,000 from the National Transport Authority. The council is continuing negotiations with the authority in relation to future funding and is also considering how it might source private-sector money for the scheme.

The exact locations of the new stands will be determined in consultation with the city councillors and suggested sites, along with a proposed schedule of work, are due to be presented to councillor in September.

Separately the council is finalising designs for four new cycle paths on the Royal and Grand canals.

A 3.6km off-road cycle path from Portobello to Sheriff Street was opened on the Grand Canal earlier this year. One more section is planned for the Grand Canal from Portobello to Naas Road which would join the route with an existing 8.6km Canal Way Cycle to Adamstown in the South Dublin County Council area.

The three other paths will be on the Royal Canal and will run from Sheriff Street to North Strand Road; North Strand Road to Phibsborough; and Phibsborough to the city boundary at Ashtown.

Senior council engineer Eoghan Madden said the Portobello to Sheriff Street section had proved extremely popular. “We were very pleasantly surprised by the numbers using the new route. Last year there were about 2,000 cyclists on the canal every day; this has now increased to 4,000.”

Mr Madden said he hoped the work, which would see cycle paths on all city sections of the canals, could be substantially completed by 2014.

“Once they are done you’ll be able to cycle on a canal path from Mullingar to Dublin Port.”