herald

Saturday 16 December 2017

'We will take your bikes off the street', city council warns new bike sharing scheme in Dublin

Riders at the launch of the BleeperBike stationless bike sharing service in the capital
Riders at the launch of the BleeperBike stationless bike sharing service in the capital

Dublin City Council (DCC) has threatened to remove bikes belonging to a new bicycle sharing scheme from the city's streets if it launches without the council's permission, with showdown talks between the two set to take place later this week.

The BleeperBike scheme has not been regulated and was due to go live over the weekend.

However, despite an initial launch of its app, users will not be able to avail of the bikes yet, with the company due to meet with DCC on Friday over a lack of bye-law regulation.

DCC is understood to be concerned about the quality of the bikes, as well as having concerns about parking.

The council said that it is preparing bye-laws for such schemes.

"Dublin City Council has committed to preparing bye-laws and to proactively engaging with all potential stationless bike share operators, with a view to giving an equal opportunity to each operator to submit a proposal for a pilot in Dublin," a spokesperson said.

Impacts

"The main issues to be addressed include: managing the potential impacts of the scheme on the public realm; ensuring the bikes are fit for purpose and properly maintained; insurance; ensuring there is adequate cycle parking capacity in city centre locations; and ensuring bikes are not abandoned at unsuitable locations."

The council said that, if the bikes were to launch without its permission, it would be within its rights to remove them from the street.

It also said that any potential launch would bypass bye-laws, along with giving BleeperBike an unfair advantage over other competitors "who are prepared to work closely with Dublin City Council".

BleeperBike CEO Hugh Cooney said the company is eager to meet with the council as soon as possible over the issue.

He had initially requested a meeting with officials yesterday but, due to availability, no meeting will now take place until Friday.

The company had intended to make 230 bikes available last Saturday.

However, this was pegged back due to the statement made by the council the day before, which Mr Cooney admitted he was "taken aback" by.

He insisted he would not be entering a war of words with the local authority.

The scheme now has no official launch date and is awaiting the go-ahead from DCC.

Speaking to the Herald, Mr Cooney said that the aim of his company was to get into the market before some of the larger international businesses decide to set up stall in the capital.

"We don't have an official launch date until we meet the council and that will be happening on Friday," Mr Cooney said.

"I actually submitted a report to the council a few weeks ago about where we're at.

"We want this to be a long-term project and we're going to be meeting standards.

Supervisors

"Our bikes meet the same European specification as Dublin Bikes. Our users are insured.

"We have supervisors to look after the bikes, so when the bikes are out on the street and a bike is intentionally parked in an illegal spot, our staff are never more than five minutes away to correct the parking situation," Mr Cooney added.

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