Dublin bike scheme set for tenfold expansion

 

A TENFOLD expansion of the Dublin bike scheme from 500 to 5,000 bikes, which will be available to use from UCD to DCU, is planned by Dublin City Council.

The five-year expansion plan will see the number of bike stations across the city increased from just over 40 to about 300, bringing the service into the suburbs.

The expansion will take place in 14 phases radiating out from the current 41 locations. The area east of the current stations to the Docklands and west to Heuston Station will be the first areas of expansion, followed by the inner suburbs of Dolphin’s Barn, East Wall, Phibsboro, Cabra and Ranelagh.

By the end of five years, the council plans to have all areas covered out as far as DCU to the north of the city, UCD to the south, Inchicore to the west and Sandymount to the east.

The bike scheme, which has been operating since September 2009, has attracted more than 47,000 subscribers, making it one the most popular bike hire schemes in Europe. The bikes and their pick-up and drop-off stations have thus far been funded by out-door advertising company JC Decaux, which won the contract to provide the bike scheme in return for advertising space in the city.

However, Jim Keogan, executive manager of the council’s planning department, said the extension could not be funded in the same way as it would not be feasible or acceptable to allow the amount of advertising that would be required for the scale of expansion, nor could it be funded through council resources. Instead it would have to be achieved through a combination of public and private money.

The Department of Transport and the National Transport Authority were committed to assisting the completion of the first two phases to the Docklands and Heuston and private companies were “more than willing” to fund bike stations outside their premises, he added.

The expansion plans would, however, be subject to a public procurement process. Mr Keogan said he hoped that could get under way next spring and that work on the first two phases would get under way by the end of next year.

The council last April announced a small-scale expansion of the scheme to provide four new bike stations and 100 more bicycles. That was to have been completed by August, but to date only one of the stations, at Harcourt Terrace, is complete.

A new station at Smithfield will not be built until the work to upgrade the Smithfield Plaza begins; work on a site in Portobello is due to begin shortly; while plans for a new station at Eccles Street have had to be abandoned because of the discovery of a previously unidentified trunk water mains underground.

Mr Keogan said he would be reluctant to fund the expansion through an increase in charges, which would “alienate the population”.