Bike Rental Scheme

Non-Technical Option | Specific Example
Climate & Air | Transport
Ireland, Dublin

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This scheme was introduced in Ireland in September 2009, whereby a number of rental bicycles were placed at designated stands throughout Dublin City. 450 bicycles in total were located throughout 40 stations, with a total of almost 800 stands scattered throughout the city centre. Plans are already underway to increase these to 550 bicycles distributed over 1,000 stands, with four new stations planned. The scheme has had great success in terms of subscribers, where it was initially anticipated that 1,500 members would subscribe after one year. However, after less than a year of operation there are already in excess of 37,000 subscribers and 1 million trips have been made. The cost of subscriptions is €10 for a year, or €2 for a three-day ticket. In addition to this, rental fees are incurred when using the bicycles. The cost structure for this is as follows:

First half hour Free
1 hour €0.50
2 hours €1.50
3 hours €3.50
4 hours €6.50
Every extra half hour €2.00


The cost of implementing this scheme was borne by advertising firm JC Decaux in exchange for 15 years of free advertising space in the city. This firm will also pay for the additional bicycles, stands, and stations that are planned, in exchange for 10% more advertising space in the city. In addition it is also the responsibility of this firm to replace any damaged or stolen bicycles and maintain the existing stock. The revenue from the bike rentals and subscription fees, meanwhile, goes directly to the Council. Bicycles can be collected from any stand and dropped off at any other, provided there is space available. Subscription payments are made in advance online, with the rental fees coming from the newly formed account.


In just 11 months of implementation this scheme has already attracted over 37,000 subscribers and is widely believed to be the most successful of its kind in Europe. However, the breakdown of these subscribers is not clear, i.e. the split of yearly subscribers to 3-day subscribers. Furthermore, given that these bicycles are intended only for use inside the city centre (with no stations available outside the canal cordon area), and for short term use (charges increase considerably for each hour of use), it is unlikely that they are being used for commuting to or from work with the exception of perhaps people who live and work in the city, with stations located conveniently close to both home and work. Thus the impact on modal shift may well not be significant. Nonetheless they do serve to increase journey time within the city centre, and have possibly reduced journeys that would have normally been made by bus or taxi (as well as walking).

Costs & Benefits

Given that there are three parties involved in this scheme (i.e. JC Decaux, Dublin City Council, and the bike users), the costs and benefits vary depending on who is being considered. Thus these are considered individually, as follows:

JC Decaux:

  • Costs: Setting up and maintaining bicycle infrastructure throughout the city
  • Benefits: Exclusive access to advertising space throughout the city for 15 years

Dublin City Council:

  • Costs: Loss in revenue from advertising space throughout the city
  • Benefits: Bicycle infrastructure put in place at no extra cost, revenue from bike subscriptions and rental fees go directly to the Council

Bike user:

  • Costs: Initial subscription fee and subsequent rental fees per additional hours used
  • Benefits: Good network of bikes available, relatively inexpensive system, healthier lifestyle, and an additional source of transport made available

Evidence & Reference

  • Evidence and details of the scheme in Dublin:

  • Details on the same scheme in Paris: (in French)

  • Details on the bike rental scheme in the UK:

  • Details of a similar scheme in Barcelona:

Modelling this Measure

The likely effect of this measure in terms of improved air quality through a reduction in traffic is expected to be quite low. Nonetheless, the introduction of these bikes, combined with the cycle to work scheme should, at the very least, highlight bicycle awareness and reinvigorate it as a potential transport mode that is cheap, healthy, and environmentally friendly. Furthermore, if resources from the bike rental scheme were ring-fenced and used to improve bicycle infrastructure throughout the city then the benefits could be even greater than anticipated, and this in turn could be used to induce a further modal shift towards cycling.

Thus if managing these two schemes can be done in an effective manner to enhance the attractiveness of cycling then it might contain positive implications for modal shift, away from the private car.

Assumptions can be made in terms of how modal shift might be affected, and these can be fed into the GAINS model through reduced activity in car or bus use. New emissions estimates can ultimately be achieved.

Site Entry Created by J A Kelly on Aug 18, 2010

Reference This Source (2019). Bike Rental Scheme. Available: Last accessed: 24th April 2019

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