Notes from Abroad: Dublin's Bike-Share a Success

BY COLLEEN MCHUGH
October 6, 2010

dublin1

All photos by Colleen McHugh

In its first year, Paris' popular Vélib' bike share program — one of the first major programs of its kind and the largest system in the world — battled higher-than-expected rates of vandalism and theft. But in Dublin, where dublinbikes launched last September, the surprise has been just how smoothly and successfully the program ran in its first year.

A modest system in comparison to Vélib' — with only 450 bikes compared to Paris' 20,000 — dublinbikes had over 44,000 subscribers (28,000 year members, and 16,000 short term members), over one million total journeys, an average of 10 trips per bike per day, no major injuries to cyclists, only two stolen bikes and nearly no vandalism over the year period.

The dublinbikes program currently exists only in the city center of Dublin, but the city council intends to expand the system to other areas of the city and nearby suburbs.

dublin2

On a recent visit to Dublin this summer, one of the first things I noticed was a seeming increase in bicycles — both privately owned and shared — since my last trip two years ago. And the Dubliners riding them were all ages, shapes and sizes — a sign that many people feel safe cycling in the city. After only two years, it was an impressive sight.

In other bike-share news, Washington DC launched its Capital Bikeshare program last month, replacing the much smaller SmartBike DC project and now making it the largest bike-share system in the United States with a planned 1100 bikes at 110 stations by the end of the month. If Capitol Bikeshare experiences similar levels of success as dublinbikes, it could provide a great model for other US cities.

dublin4

Above: A Dubliner biking in heels -- a common sight.

dublin5

For more photos of people biking in Dublin's city center, visit SPUR's Flickr page.