DublinBikes expansion depends on councillors approving advertising panels, says council

— Advertising sites from original  adverts-for-bicycle deal yet to be approved
— City’s transport chairman call on central Government to fund scheme

DublinBikes’ “greatest potential” for large-scale expansion is new on-street advertising, but that is dependant on councillors approving panels which are part of a 10 year old deal, Dublin City Council said yesterday.

The delay in the expansion of DublinBikes seems to at least partly due to a difficulty in identifying suitable sites for advertising sites around Dublin 4 for “Metropole” advertising panels and councillors approving those sites. These are part of the original 2006 DublinBikes deal and need to be approved before extra advertising is considered viable. 

The 2006 deal with advert firm JCDecaux included the use of on-street sites for advertisement panels in return for the city getting the first phase of DublinBikes and a network of new way finding signs for visitors to the city. The way finding signs were in place a year or two before DublinBikes launched in 2009.

A report presented to the city’s transport and planning committees earlier this year said that new on-street advertising has “the potential to full or part fund all remaining expansion phases” which is estimated to cost “in the region of €100m” over 14 years. Originally it was suggested that the much delayed expansion would be over 5 year and would be completed by now but funding has being a stumbling block.

A spokeswoman for Dublin City Council said yesterday: “The next step is to bring Part 8 proposals to the City Council in the autumn for approval/non-approval of four Metropole advertising structures related to the 2006 Public Amenities contract. Final decision making on Part 8 proposals is a reserved function of the City Council. Dependant on the outcome of the Part 8 process, provision for further advertising structures will be considered.”

She added: “In addition to providing for the statutory public consultation periods required during the planning approval process, the timeline for bringing proposals to the City Council is related to the difficulty in identifying suitable sites having regard to planning, traffic and viability considerations.”

The council were responding to questions from this website after The Irish Times reported that the planned Grangegorman expansion is delayed. It was possibly a sign of silly season kicking in, as the delay news was echoed by a number media outlets but none of them reported that DublinBikes was to expand to Grangegorman in the first place.

Dublin Bikes expansion map

IMAGE: The original planned 14 phases of DublinBikes

The mini or mid-sized Grangegorman expansion mainly focuses on serving the new third level DIT Grangegorman campus, with a cluster of nine stations on Grangegorman Upper in the middle of the campus, the North Circular Road above the campus, and on the Phibsborough Road to the east of the campus.

Two stations would also be provided on or just off Amiens Street beside Connolly station and two stations would be provided nearby, one at Mountjoy Square and one on the North Circular Road north east of the square. The southside would also benefit from additional capacity with station an extra station on Merrion Square South and another at Wilton Terrace.

The council report, DublinBikes: Report on Revenue Generation Options to Facilitate Expansion, dated April 2016 states: “As the outdoor advertising market continues to recover in a strengthening economy, the advertising funded bike share model has the greatest potential to facilitate expansion of the Coca-Cola Zero dublinbikes scheme. This model has the potential to full or part fund all remaining expansion phases. This is dependent on the number, location and specification of advertising structures. The most commercially efficient sites in Dublin are located on heavily trafficked radial/orbital routes, or within key civic/retail quarters centred on O’Connell Street, College Green, Grafton Street, etc. The most commercially efficient specifications utilise LED display technology.”

The council have previously clarified that the above mented locations were mentioned as examples of attractive locations, not locations they are proposing for advertising.

The report added: “Not all potential sites in the city are commercially attractive or viable. The footprint of an expanded bike rental scheme catchment will not replicate the spread of potential advertising sites in the city. This factor must be recognised by all parties to the scheme, including planners, policy makers and citizens in order to provide for future expansion using the advertising funded model.”

Time for central government to fund scheme says transport committee chairman

Cllr Ciarán Cuffe (Green Party), chair of the Dublin City Council transport committee has called on central government to fund DublinBikes.

He said: “It is high time that the Department of Transport took sustainable transportation seriously. The expansion of the Dublin Bikes scheme which kicked off in [2009] has ground to a snail’s pace over the last few years. The 14 stage expansion plan should have been completed by now but instead we are being denied funding from the Department of Transport, Tourism and Sport. If Minister Ross wishes to take sustainability seriously he should properly fund the DublinBikes expansion rather than gold-plated motorway projects.

Cllr Cuffe added: “The ‘Smarter Travel’ Transport policy has disappeared from the homepage of the Department’s website along with the word sustainability. Sustainable transport is left with the crumbs of the transport cake, receiving less than 1% of current funding.

“We cannot continue to fund this scheme with funding from soft drinks companies, membership fees and advertising panels. It is the equivalent of funding motorways through cake sales. Sustainable transport deserves at least 10% of the overall transport budget from central government,” he concluded.

MORE: DublinBikes: Report on Revenue Generation Options to Facilitate Expansion (PDF)

4 Comments

  1. The whole where will we get the money from seems to miss the point. The cost of running the bikes seems incredibly high, with very little detail forthcoming. In the funding report from April, we see 950 bikes cost 1.96 million. This is about 2100 per bike! The operating cost of almost 2 million is a contract with jcd, an advertising company. The maintenance and management should be tendered out.

    The subscription charge rises will drive many casual users away. In Vienna, not the cheapest city in the world, the bike scheme costs a euro a year.

    The city should not be looking at the scheme as a cost, but as a benefit. I never heard them say we can’t put up traffic lights unless we get an ad to fund it. Or say we can’t run a car traffic management centre unless we sell adds…

  2. Good points raised. But don’t JCD run identical schemes elsewhere without outsourcing?

    What’s the cost per bike to run these schemes elsewhere?

  3. > This is about 2100 per bike!
    It would be great to get a full breakdown of these figures, separating out the initial upfront cost (i.e. purchasing infrastructure, building the stands, etc) from the actual yearly cost of running the scheme (per bike).

    > The city should not be looking at the scheme as a cost, but as a benefit. I never heard
    > them say we can’t put up traffic lights unless we get an ad to fund it. Or say we can’t run
    > a car traffic management centre unless we sell adds…
    Excellent points

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