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The council should accelerate its promised rollout of 350 storage bunkers for bicycles across the city, say councillors.
“It is just a ready-made good thing to do,” said Labour Councillor Dermot Lacey, at a meeting of the full council on Monday 3 April.
People who live in terraced houses need somewhere to store their bikes, he said. So do those living in social housing complexes, said independent Councillor Mannix Flynn and Labour Councillor Darragh Moriarty.
Dublin City Council piloted a bike bunker in 2014–15. The council installed more towards the end of 2019 or early 2020.
In September 2021, the council said it planned to tender for 350 bike bunkers within the following six to eight weeks.
But at the full council meeting on Monday night, Patricia Reidy, a senior engineer with Dublin City Council, said that the council is no longer sure about whether it will roll out the bike bunkers at all.
The 12 they had provided so far were a pilot, said Reidy. “The scheme itself is being reviewed,” she said. The review will recommend whether to provide bunkers across Dublin or to look at different options.
Fine Gael Councillor Ray McAdam queried the logic of the council, announcing the rollout first and then later announcing a review of the scheme.
“We announced in June 2020, September 2021 and again since then, that we are going to tender for 350 bike bunkers city-wide,” he said. “We now decide that we are going to carry out a review.”
“In what universe is that the appropriate action to take?” said McAdam. “The mind boggles.”
Bike Bunkers, Trial and Rollout
In September 2019, Dublin City Council announced that it was rolling out its bike bunker scheme, although some cyclists winced at the price tag, of €100 for a space for a year.
The scheme aimed to provide secure bike-parking spaces for people in residential areas – addressing issues around storage and theft that can keep some from cycling.
People were able to register their interest starting in 2019 and then in 2021 the council announced that it would tender for the installation of 350 bunkers across the city.
But now it is unclear if that rollout will proceed. “It has become apparent, a bit like everything in life, that it is not straightforward and there is pluses and minuses,” said Reidy, the council engineer, at the meeting.
There are difficulties with the bunkers and the council will look at alternative bike-parking facilities, and how it’s done in other cities, said Reidy.
She did not outline exactly what problems have arisen but said: “It certainly can be resource heavy.”
When the review is complete the council will bring a report to the transport committee, said Reidy.
“The delays are deeply, deeply, frustrating,” says Green Party Councillor Janet Horner by phone on Tuesday.
She thinks that there may have been issues, in some locations, with noise from the bunkers. But she says hundreds of people have signed up to register their interest. “Obviously, they are widely popular.”
A lot of people who live in the inner city don’t have sufficient private outdoor space to store their bikes and are “being left high and dry”, says Fine Gael Councillor Ray McAdam.
He has been asking council officials questions about the bunkers, but says he has struggled to get clear answers as to what difficulties have arisen.
He has spoken to users and to councillors who all support the rollout proceeding, he says. “It would be such a retrograde step if the bunkers are culled.”
Asked to Remove Bikes
In some areas the council is writing to people telling them not to park their bikes on the footpath outside their houses, said Green Party Councillor Claire Byrne.
Householders living in terraced houses, including in South Lotts, have been asked to remove their bikes from the footpath, she said, at a meeting of the South East Area Committee on Monday 3 April.
“I understand that from an accessibility perspective,” said Byrne. “But back as far as 2018 I’ve been requesting bike bunkers in the South Lotts area.”
There are public bike stands but they are very heavily used, said Byrne.
Council tenants have to drag their bikes up the stairs and tie them to the railings, which then obstructs their balconies, said Mannix Flynn. “There is simply no facilities whatsoever for people to park their bikes in the flats.”
“Bike bunkers could work really well in those settings,” said Labour Councillor Darragh Moriarty, at the full council meeting. “To give people somewhere safe to lock their bikes rather than pulling them up and down the stairwells.”
Lacey said that in one housing complex, the council had installed a bike bunker, which had then been used as “a drinking den”.
However, that isn’t a good reason not to provide the bunkers elsewhere, he said. “There is a massive demand for them out there,” said Lacey. “Why we roll out these initiatives and then don’t progress them, I’ll never understand.”
Alternatives would be rear laneways, sheds, wider footpaths, reclaimed on-street parking spaces, reclaimed road spaces, converted car parks, new dedicated bike parking including racks and underground, and many more. People should not be discouraged from parking in front of their homes, though they’d be wise to install a ring in wall or ground to secure their bike. As for accessibility, cars and neighbourhoods designed for cars are the problem. Reclaim the streets and fill the footpaths with bikes, flower pots, kids playing, benches, and everything else that makes a place worth living in. Bike bunkers are not bad but we can do a lot better.
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