On Yer Bike

Dublin Bikes still has one big issue to overcome

The scheme celebrated its 10,000,000th journey today, but the city still needs to adapt to how popular cycling is.

DUBLIN BIKES HAS come a long way, but its host city still has a bit of work to do if it wants to accommodate its arguably most successful initiative of recent years.

The scheme was launched in September in 2009, exploded in popularity, and rolled out to other cities in Ireland. An event today celebrated the 10,000,000th journey taken on the bikes in the capital.

Mairéad Roche was the lucky cyclist, and was joined by Minister for Transport Paschal Donohoe at a bike stand outside Kilmainham Gaol, who took her for a quick cycle.

What more could anyone want?

Roche first starting using the scheme after her own bike was stolen.

“So off I went on the Dublin Bikes like mad. Everyday I use them to work, to friends’ houses, and I haven’t looked back since,” she said.

I was in traffic driving over here this morning, and it was a waste of time. I should have just come on the bike.

Roche (who has been awarded a cycling holiday to France, and we’re not jealous at all) is just one of the scheme’s thousands of daily users.

Dublin Bikes Jason Clarke Photography Jason Clarke Photography

In one day alone last October, more than 15,000 journeys were made across the city.

But Dublin isn’t Amsterdam or Copenhagen - just yet. Cycling has always been popular in Dublin, but it saw a surge starting from 2006, and has only grown more since the introduction of the Dublin Bikes scheme.

Here’s a breakdown of just how many journeys have been taken:

  • One year – 1,101,877
  • Two years  - 2,529,693
  • Three years – 4,032,750
  • Four years – 5,290,073
  • Five years – 7,951,866

A recent report showed a 14% jump in cyclists in the last year alone, but the city is still catching up in terms of cycling infrastructure.

This is something Dublin city manager Owen Keegan is acutely aware of. He himself is a big fan of Dublin Bikes, using it four times yesterday alone, but concedes that work is still needed.

It’s “an enormous task”:

The environment has improved, but nobody could say we’re providing an adequate level of cycle provision.

“The next big scheme will be the North Quay scheme, it will be like the scheme along the canal where you see a quantum improvement,” Keegan told reporters.

“We need a lot more of those kind of schemes. They’re expensive, we’re making progress, and personally I don’t think we’re making progress fast enough, but you know, we’re committed to doing it.

Dublin Bikes Casual. Jason Clarke Photography Jason Clarke Photography

Michael Rossister, project manager of the Coca-Cola Zero Dublin Bikes scheme, is upbeat. He is singing its successes, citing expansion plans which are announced relatively regularly to keep up with demand. He pointed towards the bikes spearheading a change in attitude towards cycling.

“Compared to where we were five or ten years ago, it’s a much more cycle-friendly city. That’s why we’ve seen such a dramatic increase in cycle numbers,” he added.

“Incrementally, Dublin City Council has been investing in major cycling infrastructure. Piece-by-piece… it’s getting easier and more pleasant.”

Resources are needed, and the Government is eager to throw money at it, both in Dublin and other cities.

“I’m committed to doing all we can to fund future expansion of what has been an extraordinary successful scheme,” Minister for Transport Paschal Donohoe.

One reporter quipped that the famous blue-and-black bikes will come in handy during the looming bus strikes.

Read: Hey Galway, Cork and Limerick – Get your cycle shorts out >

More: 11 unique joys of cycling in Dublin >

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