City Dive: Dublin City Council Interview 🇮🇪

Get micromobility and policy insights from the Head of Transport Planning and Head of Micromobility at Dublin City Council. Dublin is one of the 20 cities monitored by the European Shared Mobility Index.

City Dive: Dublin City Council Interview 🇮🇪

Dublin has evolved from a network of villages into a tight-knit capital city. Over the last two decades, Edel Kelly, Head of Transportation Planning at Dublin City Council, has seen huge amounts of road space reallocated from private cars to buses and the Luas (tram).

In more recent years, she says, it’s been about putting people first:

“The challenge has been to find more space for pedestrians and cyclists, as all the modes are competing for very limited road space.  Covid has been a game changer - it has shifted the focus of traffic engineers more towards pedestrians and cyclists”.

– Edel Kelly, Head of Transportation Planning at Dublin City Council

In this article, we will analyse Dublin’s mobility landscape and speak about the great initiatives to come.

  • Bikes
  • Scooters
  • Cars
  • Key policy information
  • The Dublin of tomorrow

The latest edition of the European Shared Mobility Index is here! Get your copy here.

Dublin no stranger to bikes

The city already has a number of bike services moving people about town with ease.

There are three shared bike systems in Dublin: the public bike system, NOW dublinbikes; Bleeper bikes and MOBY. Current legislation demands that the ‘free-floating’ bikes (Bleeper and MOBY) are to be attached to Sheffield stands (bike racks) at the end of a trip. The public realm is very congested in the city centre, and this avoids unnecessary conflict between pedestrians and cyclists. As a result, pavements are not blocked, and vandalism has been kept to a minimum.

“Generally, people are pretty good at putting them where they need to go. There's certainly more good behaviour than bad”.

– Jennifer McGrath, Head of Micromobility at Dublin City Council

There are currently around 2,000 shared bikes in Dublin, with a high concentration in the city centre. Source: City Dive

Scooters on the horizon

The notable absence in the city’s shared mobility landscape is scooters. As legislation is set to arrive in 2023, operators should be thinking about preparing their proposals now.

“We have a huge amount of interest over the last few years from scooter operators, and the difficulty is that we're waiting for national legislation -  which is forthcoming!”

– Jennifer McGrath, Head of Micromobility at Dublin City Council

According to Jennifer, there’s a “huge appetite” for scooters in the Irish capital. Since scooters have already been tested on private land, such as TIER’s trial on the 5 DCU campuses, concerns about safety are easing - but there is still work to be done.

One of the key concerns, again, is space. Much like a Paris or a Brussels, trying to limit the conflict between scooter users, cyclists and other road users, will be the main challenge.

Once the policy and technical specifications match up, it will be important to be aligned on the operating phase of the project. Considering shared bike policy (where stationless bikes must be secured at the end of a trip), operators ready to offer docking solutions may be best-placed to operate in the Irish capital. Any player looking to submit a proposal should also be looking to mirror the current synergy between MOBY and Bleeper bikes.

“We're just waiting on the legislation and guidance to come through from the government, but something that'll be important to us will be the interoperability between bike and scooter schemes”.

– Jennifer McGrath, Head of Micromobility at Dublin City Council

Car-sharing the answer

One initiative that has already proven successful is car-sharing.

There has been strong developer-led pressure on government to allow car-free or car-limited developments pretty much all over the city.

One of the negatives of this is that legal challenges have been taken against recently car-free or car-limited permitted developments, which are reliant on future public transport. In some cases, the judgements have indicated that developments cannot rely on proposed transport infrastructure, but rather, what is already in place.

However, one of the major pluses is the emergence of car-sharing. Before, a property development of 1-2,000 residential units would almost have to have the same number of parking spaces. Now, Edel says, they might manage with just 20% of that, owing to with large fleets of shared cars in place as developments become occupied.

YUKO, Enterprise and GoCar car-sharing schemes have proved very effective, and the reliance on the sharing economy will only grow.

“We envision shared mobility as the private development mobility solution in Dublin – a situation where nobody moving into a new development owns a car, and that's realistically where Dublin is heading”.

– Edel Kelly, Head of Transportation Planning at Dublin City Council

There’s no reason why scooter sharing for property developments can’t be imagined, either in the same way as car-sharing, creating private - multimodal - shared mobility hubs.

Policy patrol

“Dublin City has always approached shared mobility in a way that provides the opportunity for several operators to provide a service rather than going with one operator monopolising. That's why we went with Bye Laws and a licencing system where operators can apply for a license to provide a service on the city’s streets. So it's intended to give equal opportunity per se, for people to come in. So that's what we've done in the past - to open it to the market and give people an opportunity to apply to us for licences”.

– Edel Kelly, Head of Transportation Planning at Dublin City Council

The Dublin of tomorrow

The difficulty with Dublin, Edel suggests, is the transitional period.

“From the city's point of view, we want people of all ages and abilities, and families, to be able to live in the city and to be able to use these services. We don't just want a particular cohort of people - maybe young, professional, able-bodied and single, etc. - living in the city and using shared mobility services, we want a more diverse city”, she says.

So, in Dublin, there is a strong focus on facilitating shared mobility services on the city’s streets, which may include scooter schemes in the future. They are also progressing a lot of public realm plans with a particular focus on the city core, which will make it a more pedestrian and friendly.

The latest edition of the European Shared Mobility Index is here! Get your copy here.

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