DUBLIN City Council has defended the 100pc increase in fees for the capital's bike rental scheme, saying it is still cheaper than those in Paris and London.
Annual membership of Dublinbikes will jump from €10 to €20, while the cost of a three-day membership will increase from €2 to €5 next Friday.
The price increase will affect 36,000 long-term subscribers.
The council defended the increase as it announced a major expansion of the popular scheme, which has seen more than 1.5m journeys taken so far this year.
Dublinbikes is run by the City Council and advertising firm JCDecaux.
A spokesman for the council said the price increases will contribute towards the cost of the expansion.
The council pointed out that it is the first price rise since the launch of Dublinbikes in 2009, and that most journeys (95pc) are less than 30 minutes long and will remain free from extra charges.
The original Dublinbikes scheme – with 450 bikes and 40 stations and more later added – was provided by JCDecaux under a civic amenity contract won by the company after a public tendering process.
The civic amenities are funded by advertising concessions.
A city council spokesman said that the expanded Dublinbikes scheme – which will have 1,500 bikes and more than 100 stations – will still be run by JCDecaux but will not be funded by advertising.
He said funding – estimated at €35m over 15 years – will come from a combination of National Transport Authority grants, Dublin City Council funds, membership fees and sponsorship.
According to the spokesman, even with membership fees doubled, it is still cheaper than similar schemes in Paris (€29), Brussels (€32) and London (€107). Lord Mayor Oisin Quinn yesterday opened the first of the new bike stations on North Wall Quay near the National Convention Centre.
Another station at Deverell Place was also opened, as was an expansion to the existing station in Talbot Street.
Cllr Quinn said: "These are the first of 58 new Dublinbikes stations which will be open between now and July 2014."
JCDecaux managing director Joanne Grant thanked subscribers for their support, and said the company intended to "continue to deliver a world-class bike scheme to the city of Dublin". Fifty extra bikes were available as of yesterday, and eight more stations around the city will open by mid-December.
They will be in Clonmel Street, York Street West and East, Great Strand Street, Excise Walk on North Wall Quay, Fenian Street, Grattan Street and Mount Street Lower.