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Dublin city bike hire scheme to start September

Advertising giant funds commuter scheme - and new billboards

A controversial public bike hire scheme will be launched in Dublin on September 13, the city council has said.

Around 450 bikes will be available to hire from 50 stations around the Irish capital in a scheme which has involved the advertising giant JC Decaux. The company will provide and maintain the bikes for 15 years in return for permission to erect 120 billboards across the city.

This is estimated to be worth €1 million a year in revenue, but the company also had to remove 100 unauthorised billboards and provide a directions scheme, pointing tourists to places of interest in the capital, at a cost of €4m.

There has been criticism of the scheme by motorists because 167 parking spaces have been lost during the construction of the bike stations.

The council has been installing the stations since the end of April. Their construction, which was contracted to developer Mick Wallace, was to have taken nine weeks.

However, while many of the 40 stations are now complete, construction of some has been delayed because the chosen location was over utilities, such as gas pipes, which were not discovered until the ground was broken at the site.

Andrew Montague, cycle forum chairman for Dublin City Council, said he hoped the security issues the council took into consideration during the planning phase will mean the bikes are not damaged.

"We made sure the stations are overlooking busy areas, not down side lanes. We did spend a lot of time thinking about it. In Paris, they really rushed it - they put a lot of the stations in back streets," he said.

The council originally intended the bikes would be provided free, but it could not find anyone to run a free scheme. The bikes, which will be available from 5am- 12.30am seven days a week, will be free for the first 30 minutes of use, the next 30 minutes will cost 50 cent. There will be an increasing scale of fees for longer periods of time to encourage frequent return of bikes to the stations.

People can sign up to the scheme via a website for €10 per year. A smartcard is then issued which will allow bicycles to be removed from the stands.



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