Thursday 14 December 2017

Dublin Bikes: 'Full and empty stations are a characteristic of bike share schemes'

Almost 10.7m journeys have been made since 2009 when the scheme began.
Almost 10.7m journeys have been made since 2009 when the scheme began.
Geraldine Gittens

Geraldine Gittens

Dublin City Council received three official complaints in relation to the Dublinbikes scheme this year.

Around 1.23 million journeys have been made on Dublinbikes so far this year. Almost 10.7m journeys have been made since the scheme began in 2009.

Accident levels have been low throughout the Dublin Bike scheme’s almost six years in existence, according to Dublin City Council.

One grievance of some scheme users is that bicycle pick-ups or drop-offs are not always possible when dock stations are either full or empty, especially at peak traffic times.

However, Dublin City Council says full or empty dock stations cannot be completely avoided and they are to be expected in a bike share scheme.

Some 50 staff are employed on the Coca-Cola Zero Dublin Bikes scheme, and a fleet of 20 vehicles is on the road to carry out necessary regulation and maintenance.

“Full and empty stations are a characteristic of bike share schemes,” a Dublin City Council spokesperson told “Both empty and full stations can be expected, especially at peak times, but also at other times as usage patterns determine that some stations, for example, should be emptied in readiness for a predictable influx of bikes.”

“There are about 15,000 journeys a day, so even if you had 1,000 vehicles going around 24 hours a day, it’s not a possible” to replenish the bikes all the time.

“At Heuston station, one train would clear out the bikes, and say you had 50 bikes going to different stations throughout the city - to gather up those bikes at various stations, and bring them back to Heuston, it’s difficult to do.”

“In some cases, bike stations are emptied out because we know there’ll be an expected influx of bikes. These are monitored on real-time, and it’s only ever a supplement.”

“We work with the operator to improve things as best we can. We have performance indicators that have to be met and they are being met.”

Staff work from 5am to 11pm to maintain the scheme, but Dublin City Council says the hours extend as demand requires.

The Coca-Cola Zero Dublinbikes call centre has received around 10,000 calls and emails about the scheme this year. These queries ranged from those related to payments, flat tyres, and ideas for new station locations.

The 2010 Dublin Bikes Strategic Planning Framework proposes an expansion programme to provide for 5,000 bikes and around 300 bike stations throughout the city.

Phase two expanded the scheme out to Heuston Station and the Docklands and brought an extra 950 bikes, 57 bike stations, and two station expansions to the city.  The scheme now has 101 stations and 1,500 bikes.

“The vehicle fleet and staff numbers required to operate the scheme have been increased substantially since the completion of the phase two expansion which roughly tripled the size of the scheme.”

There are no definite timeframes in place for the delivery of the next expansion phases, and further expansion will be subject to funding, the spokesperson said. 

Meanwhile, for the regional schemes, a spokesperson for (NTA) said there are currently no plans for expansion. 

“The National Transport Authority will monitor the operation of the schemes and consider expansion at a later date,” a spokesperson said.

The Regional Bike Scheme encompasses 330 bikes in Cork, 195 in Galway, and 215 in Limerick.

Operated by An Rothar Nua, three vehicles and 13 employees are engaged in maintenance and redistribution across the three cities. 

In Cork, 83,713 trips have been made on its scheme since January, while 9,328 have been made in Galway, and 14,371 in Limerick.

Some 19 cases of damage have been reported on these regional schemes, but none occurred as a result of an accident, a spokesperson for the National Transport Authority said.

“The schemes operate between 5.30am and 12.30am, and redistribution and maintenance occurs between 6am and 10pm.”

Five calls were received concerning bike redistribution in Cork, Galway and Limerick since the three schemes were launched.

Dublin Bikes: The facts

• Almost 54,808 long term subscribers, and 4,260 short term subscribers so far this year.

• This year, 1,229,272 journeys have been made on Dublin Bikes so far this year, and 10,568,398 journeys have been taken since its launch in 2009.

• The average duration of a Coca-Cola Zero Dublin Bikes journey is 13 minutes

• 96pc of journeys are free (i.e. under 30 minutes)

• The busiest usage day was Thursday April 23, 2015 with 15,447 journeys taken

• Some 1.7 million trips were made on Dublin Bikes last year

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