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It's the wheel deal... city's free bikes soar to 5,000

THE capital's free bike scheme is set for massive expansion thanks to its huge success.

The number of free bicycles available through the Dublinbikes initiative is to be increased from 450 to 5,000 and the number of bike stations will be upgraded from the current 40 to 300.

The scheme currently has 45,000 subscribers.

The plans, which were given the go-ahead at Monday night's Dublin City Council meeting, are to be rolled out over the next five years.

The expansion plans aim for the scheme to become a part of integrated ticketing with public transport such as bus, Luas and Dart services.

The scheme is also to be expanded into 14 new areas across the capital. The areas are to be decided on by a working group in the coming months but a report on the expansion lists the Docklands area, Ballyfermot, Ballymun, Coolock, Finglas and Dublin City University as priorities.

However, questions remain about how the expansion is to be paid for.

Advertising agency, JCDecaux currently provides the bikes, bike stations and bike stands in return for advertising space around the city.

The council says that it will "pursue all measures to finance the scheme" and will fund the plan through a combination of Government funding and advertising deals.



Phenomenal

The free bicycle scheme has been rolled out in cities across the world, with Dublin being one of the most successful since its launch in April 2009.

In Melbourne, a city with twice the population of Dublin, there are just 150 bike trips per day being taken, while in Dublin the average number of trips per day was 5,000 during the summer months.

Head of the city council's transport committee Cllr Andrew Montague (Lab) said: "The success of this scheme has been phenomenal. There has been almost one and a half million trips at this stage. Even in the snow there are still 2,000 bike trips a day across the city."

Cllr Montague went on to say that he had even received calls from other cities based on the popularity of the Dublin scheme.

"The city manager in Rome rang me recently because they are having a huge problem with bikes being stolen. I did not know what to tell him because we have only had two bicycles stolen since the scheme first began."

Councillor Mannix Flynn said that he hoped to see schools encouraged to use the scheme in order to promote cycling as a mode of public transport for young people.

He said "This scheme is part of the national public transport network now and more than a tourist attraction. I would like to see a big push within the schools so that we can get young people on board."

hnews@herald.ie


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