Consultants have advised Dublin City Council to outsource the running of its currently stalled Bike Bunker programme — the suggestion is to keep the system in public ownership with location planning by the council, but hire a private company to run the day-to-day operations of the project.
The on-street bicycle lockers — branded as BikeBunkers — are aimed at providing secure parking for residents who do not have easy access to secure storage, such as houses with no rear access or apartments. The lack of security parking is seen as a significant barrier to cycling.
Depending on the manufacture and model, the lockers — called ‘bike hangers’ in the UK and ‘bicycle drums’ in the Netherlands — contain around 6 bicycle spaces inside the lockers and residents who rent a space get a key to the locker.
Before Covid, the plan in 2019 in Dublin City was to install around 400 Bike Bunders within three years. The scheme was then hit with rollout problems relating to staffing. Only 12 Bike Bunkers were rolled out in the city council area as part of a DublinBeta trial, which includes lockers from three different providers, Cyclehoop, Fietshanger and Cycle-works.
The per year price of renting a space in a locker varies in different cities. For example, the annual costs is €64.32 in Rotterdam, €73 in Utrecht, £48 for on-street locations and £34 on estates in the London Borough of Hackney, and just £35 in the London Borough of Waltham Forest.
Currently, the per year price for Bike Bunkers in Dublin is €100 per space — a point which has been roundly criticised especially given that the standard resident parking permit is just €50 per year. A summary of a report on the Dublin scheme does not mention the fee which is charged to users.
The new report on the future of the scheme by consultants Arup suggests that the council “should target deploying at least 300 Bike Bunkers by 2026” — this recommendation compares with the recent announcement by the London Borough of Hackney that it is to install 675 new bike hangars by 2026.
Hackney has a population of around half of that in the Dublin City Council area and the plan for 675 new units represents a doubling of the number of lockers in the borough.
Arup puts the cost of the project at an estimated €1.5 million for the first 3 years, subject to market confirmation. It said that this would include “the cost of purchase of around 150 bike bunkers and associated costs”.
The consultants said they examined international best practices in cities like London, Edinburgh, Glasgow, Brussels, and Rotterdam.
From this Arup has recommended what it calls “Publicly funded, owned, and planned with contracted maintenance and operations” Within this, the council handles funding, unit purchase, and location selection, while maintenance, operations, and an expression of interest website are managed by a contractor.
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Arup said that an alternative option than outsourcing is for the rollout is to “continue to try and roll out the scheme using exclusively [Dublin City Council] resources”. However, the consultants warn: “This option cannot be recommended due to the lack of resources currently available within the Environment & Transportation Department, to provide an efficient Citywide Bike Bunker Scheme.”
A summary of the report from the consultants was published by the council ahead of the Dublin City Council transport committee meeting next week.
The summary said that there was a “stakeholder workshop” in March 2023 involving users and local authorities and the challenges of the scheme’s implementation were discussed. It said: “Key points included addressing space limitations, liability concerns, alternative parking options, and indoor storage needs.”
“The pilot demonstrates positive community impact and substantial demand, warranting scheme expansion,” the consultants said. “However the lessons learned from the scheme to date is that DCC E&T department do not have sufficient staff resources to allow us either to progress the scheme or to maintain it into the future and this is unlikely to change.”
Dublin City Council has been asked this morning if it will publish the full report.