Dublin introduces new bike program
Free bicycles in Dublin!
A deal between Dublin City Council and JCDecaux, the advertising giant, has not gone unnoticed by Dubliners and although there was some initial controversy about it, now the bikes are here and are being well used. Everywhere you go in the city (which is admittedly flat and thus conducive to cycling!) you see people on bikes, but now there is a new kind of cycling opportunity with Dublin Bikes available to citydwellers and tourists alike.
The bikes sport a lovely turquoise blue livery and have a dinky basket on the front to carry your shopping home in. They are unisex and one size fits all. They are best used on short trips around the city as you incur a charge if you go over the first half an hour which is otherwise free on every journey. So the idea is that you register for an annual card for 10 euros or a three day card for 2 euros and then pick up a bike, use it and put it back.
I went shopping for some food at Marks & Spencer on Grafton Street and then picked up a bike at the station on Molesworth Street, dropped the heavy shopping back to my boyfriend's apartment on the other side of St Stephen's Green and then cycled the bike back to another rank in Merrion Square to drop it off again. All this costs next to nothing and it is a great alternative to using a taxi or the car within the city centre - and a lovely way to travel on a fine autumn day.
I met the maintenance man who was picking up a couple of bikes on his specially adapted pick-up truck, some to go to the bike hospital for mending and others to be moved to stations which needed more bikes available. It is, he said a constant struggle:- 'The public are too fast for us!' he said. So obviously the bikes are popular, but what is really surprising to the maintenance man is that they have not lost any to vandalism as yet. The great fear of the realistic Irish in advance of the launch date in September 2009 was that many bikes would be lost to the criminal element in the city.Continued on the next page