On Your Bike

Picture of a Metropole advertising sign in Dublin 4. Photo: Kevin O’Gorman.

Picture of a Metropole advertising sign in Dublin 4.
Photo: Kevin O’Gorman.

There’s no doubt that the Dublin Bike scheme has been a huge success. Since its launch in 2009 when 450 bikes and 40 stations were rolled out, to a situation today where over 1,500 bikes and 100 stations exist, the initiative continues to go from strength to strength.

But it comes at a cost. Dublin City Council (DCC) originally signed a deal with French advertising giant, JC Decaux, who funded and supplied the bikes in return for advertising space at 72 locations around the city. As the scheme grew, more bikes were traded for additional publicity space, another ten locations to be exact, six of which are in place, leaving four billboards to construct.

And the good news for our readers is that Dublin 4 has been specially selected to host three of the double-sided panels known as metropoles. Measuring three metres in width and six metres in height, sites have been proposed at Donnybrook Road, Shelbourne Road and Pembroke Road, right outside the US Embassy.

The news hasn’t been welcomed with open arms by some of the local community. Various resident’s associations have objected to the Pembroke Road metropole on the basis that it would block “an architectural gem.”

An Taisce have also weighed in with an objection of their own, describing the screens as “grossly offensive and visually deleterious,” and more specifically regarding the Donnybrook site, saying it would “worsen the already hideous impact” of advertising which “infested” the village.

And while the South East Area committee of DCC recently voted to reject the proposal, it will soon proceed for approval at full council level. This has sparked a debate and divide between representatives north and south of the Liffey, with Cllr. Nial Ring of the north central area accusing his southern counterparts of nimbyism.

Although the northside hosts 60% of the screens but only has access to 35% of the bikes, Cllr. Dermot Lacey of Pembroke South Dock refuted those accusations, saying it was more the fact that “they were simply poor locations, and I think we need to find new locations for them.”

When NewsFour spoke to Cllr. Lacey he wondered why the normal planning process wasn’t followed: “I’d also question if these structures should be placed in areas that are designated as Z1, or residential zones,” he said. Lacey has offered to walk the sites with city officials in order to select more suitable homes for the metropoles.

DCC are adamant that if the new screens are not installed, the scheme could suffer a reduction in service, or an increase in cost to the user, as they seek to make up the €376,000 shortfall the scheme generates.

By Paul O’Rourke