ANALYSIS: As long as the council moves fast to regulate stationless bicycles share — which it seems to be doing — there should be no problem waiting a little longer for the stationless revolution.
The council is right to take an interest in the quality of the bicycles and the protecting the public realm.
Minimum standards should be set on the quality of the bicycles. While it might not be to the liking of some operators, we would even go as far as suggesting internal brakes would be safer than v-brakes and brake pads. Minimum brightness of lights is also a must.
Safeguarding the public realm — including narrow footpaths and other public areas — need to kept clear of poorly parked or even abandoned bicycles.
Maybe in the longer-run, the council could also look at a requirement for geo-fencing (software which know the location of the bikes) to stop the bicycles from from being parked on certain streets with narrow footpaths or next to fire exits. But excluding large parts of the city centre could be seen as over-regulation.
The city should also be open to treating different areas of the city differently — a rule that suits the city centre may not be required in the suburbs.
The city council had suggested starting with a trial of stationless systems outside the city centre, but this makes little sense as it would tell us little about how a system would work overall — unless the city wants to keep bicycles out of the city centre? That’d defeat the point. People should be able to have the option of cycling, for example, from city centre shops or train stations to suburbs, finishing a rental far beyond the range of DublinBikes stations.
Cross council boundary co-ordination is likely also needed to account for trips from
Bicycle parking needs to be expanded both in the city centre and in many suburbs regardless of bicycle share. The lack of bicycle parking is a reason to expand bicycle parking faster, not a reason to slow down the roll out of bicycle share. This, however, will require a mix of on-street stands and more expensive high-density bicycle parking at train stations, busy retail areas and other locations.
A number of operators are likely aiming to offer €1 per 90 minute rentals or similar pricing — the city must be aware of this if they want to see bicycle sharing really take off. If pricing requirements are pushed up because of excessive fees or charges from the city, it could limit the potential of the proposed systems.
Care is needed, but regulation should generally be welcomed.