Was Dublin 'shortchanged' on free bikes and can advertising be dangerous and can citizen activism do something about the problem
infomatique | July 19, 2008 at 03:10 pmby
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Dublin City Council recently signed a deal with advertising group JCDecaux which would see a number of advertising panels erected on the city’s streets in return for some rent-able bikes. The first of these adverts have been put up in recent days and have quickly proven to be a major traffic and pedestrian hazard as this video details:
Over the last few weeks I have noticed a number of these very large street advertisements at various locations throughout the city and I was not at all happy about them as they are obstructing our already congested foothpaths.
Last friday while walking by Marks & Spencer in Mary Street I noticed that a blind man had walked right into one of these new structures because he had not detected it with his cane (apparently a number of blind people have had this problem).
A thread on boards.ie has been the source of some interesting citizen activism in the last week and as it seems the campaign there is just getting started watch out for some more interesting developments.
OH! forgot to mention that there is no sign of the bicycles
Tuesday, 17 July 2007 Dublin 'shortchanged' on free bikes OILING the wheels of commerce to drive a green agenda sounds like a win-win situation, but critics of Dublin's "bicycles for billboards" deal say the council has ended up a loser.
J C Decaux, one of the world's leading outdoor advertising agencies, has given the capital significantly fewer bikes proportionally than it gave to Paris, Lyons and other European cities where it has billboard agreements.
Dublin has agreed to let J C Decaux erect 120 billboards on public footpaths around the city. In return the agency will provide 500 bicycles for low rent at 25 locations. It will also supply four kiosks with public lavatories, maps and signposts. The value to Dublin is calculated at €85m. The agency has also agreed to withdraw 100 of its existing hoardings from the city. New ones will be located on public property and some will carry civic information.
In Paris the company is providing 20,600 bikes this year in return for 1,628 billboards – more than 12.6 bikes for each billboard, three times the Dublin figure of little more four per hoarding. The Paris contract also involves paying an annual rental of €2,085 for each site for 10 years.
Several other European cities have similar deals with J C Decaux. Vienna was the first, in 2002. It was initially a disaster, with 2,000 bicycles stolen in the first 48 hours, but then 900 secure GPS-traceable bikes being provided. Each bike in Dublin will have a mini-chip to allow it to be tracked.
In Lyons, a city with a population similar to Dublin, 3,000 bicycles have been made available – six times more than here – while Barcelona also has 3,000. In Brussels, only 250 bicycles are available, but the J C Decaux advertising element is restricted to bike sheds. The city has paid €178,000 towards the scheme.
Dublin officials are refusing to release the contract on grounds of "commercial sensitivity", so the value of any cash transaction is included in the 15-year deal is not clear.
Andrew Montague, a Labour councillor who supports the project, said more transparency would be preferable. He believes J C Decaux got the contract after "a fair tender process", in which there had been six bids. "As the Paris
scheme is a much bigger scale, it was logical that they would get better value", Montague said.
The Paris terms were agreed after a court challenge by a competitor, Clear Channel, which claimed there were irregularities in the original tendering process.
Emer Costelloe, another Labour councillor, said the revelations about the Paris project confirmed her "worst fears" that Dublin was getting "an incredibly poor deal".
She would be urging the incoming Lord Mayor to address this "as a priority".
Dublin is permitting 70 "metropole" billboards, which are 3.5 metres high, automated and illuminated. A further 50 electronic billboards, similar in size to that of bus-shelter adverts, are to be installed in the city centre, primarily in the north inner city and along the Aungier Street axis.
The Dublin deal has attracted criticism over the lack of an environmental impact assessment and road safety issues. Forty appeals against planning permission have been lodged with An Bord Pleanala. They include objections filed by businesses such as Arnotts and An Taisce, the national trust, which say they were not consulted.
One complaint is that J C Decaux has engaged in project splitting by sending in 130 separate applications to the council. Critics say officials were already predisposed to granting planning permission.
Most of the billboards are to be erected on the north side and in the inner city, which critics say will lead "to further stigmatising already disadvantaged neighbourhoods".
Stuart Fogarty, former President of The Institute of Advertising Practitioners in Ireland, has lodged an appeal on the basis that "the agreed advertising sites will be both obtrusive and create negative aesthetics for the city…and are not helpful to either motorists or pedestrians".
The Sunday Times understands that J C Decaux is already at an advanced stage of negotiation with Dun Laoghaire-Rathdown Council to introduce a similar scheme.
Free cycles on Dublin's streets... on yer bike, mate!
Thursday January 12 2006
In 1987 Stephen Roche won cycling's World Championship, Giro d'Italia and Tour de France in one incredible burst of hyper-achievement. As Roche-mania swept the land, he realised he'd created a monster. He confided: "You end up being hassled by people talking about bicycles all the time. That's why I stay home a lot."
Roche might beat a retreat to his panic room if Labour councillor Andrew Montague gets his way, because there will be talk of little else but bicycles.
Montague is urging Dublin City Council to provide a fleet of free-to-use bicycles for the capital. By putting a couple of euro in a slot, pedestrians would be able to release a pair of wheels from one of the plentiful bicycle stations dotted around the capital. The borrowers could then reclaim their deposit, in supermarket trolley fashion, by docking the bikes at the station handiest to their destination.
Montague has studied schemes in other countries and reckons that the free bikes could be substantially proofed against thieves and vandals. For a start, they'd have solid rubber tyres making them too slow, uncomfortable and tiring for anything more than a short hop.
They'd be built to an eccentric design so that their parts couldn't be "harvested" by thieves for fitting to conventional bikes. Being so distinctive, they'd be easily spotted if taken outside their fixed boundaries (perhaps between the two canals), and the transgressor stopped and fined.
The operation would be policed by a squad of bike minders who'd man the stations, ward off gurriers, and disperse any build-ups of bikes so that there's always an even spread around the city.
The one problem with the proposal - and there is only one problem - is that it's stark bonking mad.
Where is the Council going to recruit minders with the training in scuba diving to disperse the main build-ups of bikes, which will be in the Liffey and the two canals? If the minders are stationed between the canals, who is going to stop and fine cyclists on out-of-bounds bikes?
Please don't say "the guards". I was in a Garda station recently and a seriously heavy customer arrived in for his weekly bail/probation signing on. Thumbing throught the book, the desk officer observed: "You haven't signed on for the last three weeks." The thug explained: "Last week I couldn't make it cos I was locked up for three days. Before that it was Christmas and I had a lot on."
And where is the Council going to find the millions of euro to cover the bogus compensation claims of that section of society which opens the wardrobe in the morning and ponders: "Now, which neck-brace am I going to wear today?"
Montague believes that the insurance costs could be largely met by selling advertising space on the solid wheels of the spokeless bikes. I regretfully suggest that selling ad space on the side of London's Millennium Wheel might be closer the mark.
A scheme very similar to the one proposed is working well in Copenhagen. However, as Garret FitzGerald pointed out some years back: "Whatever else we are in this country, we are not Danes." (Long story.) In Copenhagen, people will wait obediently for a green light at a pedestrian crossing, even if the street is empty because it's 4am on Christmas Day during a petrol strike.
In Ireland, if something's not nailed down, someone will try to steal it - or else nail it down. Either one is good to a certain mentality. The evidence sheet is long and shameful.
Recently, we've had life-sized cow effigies butchered on the streets of Dublin (one beheaded with a saw with great effort), a fibreglass pig and a statue of Padraic O Conaire smashed in Galway, and a civic sculpture destroyed in Newry.
Similarly, big artworks of cattle, deer and horses didn't last a wet day left unguarded in Limerick.
The life-sized cattle driven off the streets by vandals in 2003 had been exhibited unmolested in London, Sydney, Auckland and New York. "The awful thing is," said the promoter, "we were kind of expecting this in Dublin."
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