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Pedal power in Dublin

February 16, 2011

By Staff Reporter

By Andrew Bushe

DUBLIN — A system of publicly owned bikes to encourage Dubliners to pedal their way around the motoring gridlock is planned under a new proposal from the Corporation’s Traffic Department.

Tenders have been sought for a pilot program involving about 250 bikes that will operate around more than 20 bike "stations" throughout the city.

After people have proved their identity, they will be able to get a smart card to allow them check out a bike.

"The idea is to put bikes out there that people can access with some form of a swipe card," a Corporation spokeswoman said.

"We expect to have proposals back later this month [July] and have identified 24 preliminary sites we think would be suitable as locations for bike stations. People can take a bike from one station and then leave it back at another one near where they are going.

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"Initially we are planning to try it out on a pilot basis to test if there is a demand and see how it might work."

Former Lord Mayor and Green TD John Gormley said a similar program worked very well in the Finish capital Helsinki.

He hopes the new bikes will not be stolen, as were the six provided under a similar Green Party program in 1997.

Despite their disappearance within six weeks, the party judged the program a partial success, saying that normally bikes vanished within minutes if they were left unlocked in the city.

"I think the Liffey got most of our bikes at that time," Gormley said.

"It really is a brilliant idea if it works. The problem in Finland is finding a bike because the program is so popular.

"The Finnish are very honest and perhaps there is a different culture here. But we have to try and change that."

He said the Finnish bikes were very distinctive with a uniquely shaped frame and solid hard-rubber wheels to ensure no punctures.

"In Finland, it works in a similar way to how shopping trolleys are available in some supermarkets here. You put a coin in to get one and then retrieve the money when you return it.

"There are bike depositories all around the suburbs where you can return them for someone else to use. The key word for ensuring it all works is responsibility."

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