— Only 200 bicycles on street today as part of “orderly roll”.
Dublin City Council has given Bleeperbike and Urbo the first two licences to run stationless bicycle share in the council’s area — the systems will not have stations like DublinBikes, but, when finished a rental, users must lock the bicycles to official bicycle parking,
The companies are two of the five which applied for an operator’s licence under the Dublin City Council Control of Stationless On-Street Bicycle Hire Bye-Laws 2017.
Dublin City Council said: “On Wednesday, 30th May, 2018, Dublin City Council launches the first regulated Stationless Bike Hire Scheme in Dublin city. Two operators, Urbo and Bleeperbike will be granted licences to operate the low cost bike hire scheme which will complement the existing Just Eat dublinbikes scheme. The City Council is delighted to facilitate the orderly roll out of this scheme which will see 200 bikes on the streets immediately with a gradual increase in the number of bikes over the coming months.”
It added: “The Stationless Bike Hire Scheme will expand bike hire services to outer suburban areas and it allows greater flexibility for users as bikes do not have to be returned to a docking station, but simply locked to an official Sheffield stand.”
The council said that it had increased cycling parking “throughout the city” with over 1,300 extra cycle parking spaces installed over the past few months. The council said that its installation programme is continuing, but that this will have to keep up with demand for both shared bicycles and normal user-owned bicycles.
The companies will pay fees per bicycle which will help fund new bicycle parking.
The council added: “Users can sign up to either operator with full interoperability between the two schemes. Bikes are sourced via an App which unlocks the bike. Once locked to a Sheffield stand at destination the hire period ceases. The Council is working in partnership with both operators to ensure that the scheme will be a success and not encounter the problems experienced in other cities with unregulated schemes.”
BleeperBike is run by Hugh Cooney, a former corporate finance & accounting executive with PWC and KPMG. The company’s bicycles were originally removed from the city’s streets by the council after the council warned the company that it could not operate on-street before a licensing system was in place.
BleeperBike is also running trial schemes in other Dublin council areas and with universities.
Urbo meanwhile has been operating in an area of London since last year in London, and the company said: “We have signed agreements in place with four other London councils. Signatures in place with numerous UK & Irish councils for Summer 2018 launches.”
Dick Brady, assistant chief executive with control over the environment and transportation section of the council, said “Dublin City Council is delighted to facilitate the roll out of stationless bike hire in the city. We look forward to working actively with the chosen operators Urbo and Bleeperbike to ensure the success of stationless bike hire in Dublin. Facilitating modal shift to more sustainable transport options is a vital element in the Council’s traffic management and climate change strategies. The provision of low cost bike share is a valuable additional support these strategies.”
Councillor Ciaran Cuffe, chairman of the council’s transport committee, said: “This is a good day for Dublin. Stationless bike schemes have a clear role to play in tackling congestion in Dublin. Similar schemes have succeeded in major cities all around the world, and we’re delighted to have them here. The lesson from abroad is that properly regulated bike schemes can make a positive contribution to sustainable transport and mobility. I am pleased that we have awarded licences to Urbo and Bleeperbike and I wish both companies success over the months ahead.”
As IrishCycle.com reported at the weekend, headlines that the stationless schemes could be “scuppered by locking requirements” is viewed as highly unlikely as most of the potential operators signed up for a licence with the full knowledge and acceptance of the requirement that the bicycles are to only be locked to official bicycle racks.
The requirement is designed to stop bicycles from being abandoned or where bicycles would be locked where footpaths would be blocked, as has happened in other cities.
The complaint against the rule on locking bicycles was made by Ofo, a Beijing-based bicycle sharing giant.
The two other companies involved with the bidding have yet to come forward to comment publicly on any aspect of the bidding process or the system the council has put in place. We’ll update this story with any reaction from those companies.