City bike scheme 'one of the best in the world'
ROLL OUT: We've made 560,000 trips in the saddle
THE Dublin bike scheme has clocked up more than half a million journeys making it the most successful in the world.
Although it was estimated that the scheme would have 1,500 users in its first year, Dublin Bikes now has more than 30,000 subscribers.
There have been more than 560,000 journeys on Dublin Bikes to date, six times more than any of the other cities where the scheme is in use such as Vienna, Lyons, Paris, Seville and Brussels.
Dublin City Council has moved to increase the advertising space in the capital to pay for a €6.6m extension of the Dublin Bikes scheme.
The scheme, which provides free bicycles for hire around the city, has proved extremely popular since it was introduced in April 2009.
The extension will see 100 new bicycles available and the number of bike stands increase from 795 to 1087. There will also be four new bike stations put in place in Smithfield, Eccles Street, Harcourt Terrace and Charlemont Hall.
However, the move involves the provision of ten new advertising hoardings to the JCDecaux advertising agency which provides the bikes, bike stations and bike stands in return for advertising space around the city.
Labour Party councillor Andrew Montague said that the extension was necessary to keep the scheme going and that it must go ahead as soon as possible to meet the demand for bikes throughout summer.
The cash-strapped council can't afford to finance the upgrade from its own budget so they have moved to source the funding through the provision of advertising panels in areas including Gardiner Street, Temple Bar, Nassau Street, Mount Street, Baggot Street and the Merrion Road.
Labour Party councillor Aodhan O'Riordan said: "Because the scheme has been so successful we must extend it but what it comes down to is finding that we basically had to prostitute ourselves to the private sector to get this done."
City manager John Tierney said: "This scheme, if you think about the number of trips, then we have gotten the best value for money of any of the 20 cities that have the scheme. We are conscious of signage and the number of signs in terms of clutter is not the worst."
Meanwhile, the council agreed last night to write to JCDecaux asking for the controversial Hunky Dory ads which depict scantily clad female rugby players to be removed from their billboards in the city. The council will also write to the National Advertising Authority on the issue.