Two firms – Bleeperbike and Urbo – have been granted licences to operate Dublin City Council’s stationless bike-hire scheme.
Under the scheme, 200 bikes will be rolled out across the city “immediately”, with the number of bikes to gradually increase over the coming months, according to the council.
Bikes will be sourced through a smartphone app, which will also unlock the bike. Hired bikes will not have to be returned to a docking station, but must be returned and locked to official Sheffield stands located around the city.
The scheme will be complementary to Dublinbikes, a self-service bike-rental system which uses docking stations located across the capital.
“I think there will be growing pains, and we’re starting off slowly,” said Green Party councillor Ciarán Cuffe, who is chairman of the council’s transportation strategic policy committee.
Mr Cuffe said it was hoped there would be 500 bikes operational by the end of the year. “But we want to make sure if there’s any teething problems that we can sort them out before we scale up the project.”
Bleeperbike currently operates within the Dún-Laoghaire-Rathdown and South Dublin County Council districts and originally planned to launch its Dublin City scheme in June 2017. However, the launch was delayed when the council said it would have to introduce new bylaws.
The use of the Sheffield stands will ensure that the bikes "don't become a nuisance", said Dick Brady, assistant chief executive at the council's environment and transportation department.
“Looking around the world, there have been challenges with stationless bikes, of them being left in the wrong place and obstructing footpaths,” Mr Cuffe said. “But I think if it’s done right . . . we should be able to overcome these hurdles and really get more people cycling, which is good for air quality, it’s good for health and it’s good for the city.”