Greens hope for a new cycle in city transport


THE instructions are clear albeit in small print. The Green Party has placed eight bicycles on Dublin's streets for use by the public. Riders are simply asked to leave them - unlocked - on a main street for others to use.

It doesn't seem to matter that, with no instruction, Dublin thieves are already helping themselves to around 2,000 bikes a year. Or that in Amsterdam, many free municipal bikes ended up in the canals.

Not to mention that a similar scheme introduced in Edinburgh proved an equal disaster. As one former resident recalls: "What bikes didn't get nicked were left so far out of the city centre that no one could be bothered to ride them back in."

According to Green Party transport spokesman, Cllr Ciaran Cuffe, all is not lost. The idea has worked in Copenhagen, the French town of La Rochelle, and the US city of Portland, Oregon.

"It will be a success if they last more than a week," said Cllr Cuffe. "Obviously, there's a huge amount of bicycle theft in Dublin but if there was a municipal free bike scheme, sponsored by Dublin Corporation, it could reduce the incentive to steal bikes."

He said the £3.2 million invested in a new car park behind the Mansion House "could have provided 16 pocket parks, 64 playgrounds or 32,000 free bikes." He also appealed to people with old bicycles to make them available for the scheme.

The city manager, Mr John Fitzgerald, said he was "all in favour of innovation and trying out new ideas" but he did not believe that a free bike scheme would work. However, he stressed that serious efforts were being made to improve the cyclists' lot.