Restrictions To Be Imposed on Parked Dockless Hire Bikes

Cycles will only be allowed to be left in council designated locations

Lime Bikes are to be the main operator in Ealing borough
Lime Bikes are to be the main operator in Ealing borough

A report is being presented to a forthcoming meeting of Ealing Council which recommends that the borough signs up to a new byelaw restricting where dockless hire bikes can be parked.

The meeting on 15 December is being asked to endorse a new London wide regulation that would compel dockless cycle hire operators to use designated parking spaces and to prohibit cycles being left anywhere other than those stipulated by boroughs.

The report recommends that the Council formally delegates its byelaw making powers to the London Councils’ Transport and Environment Committee to draw up the byelaw.

Dockless cycles hire, in which cycles are hired via a smartphone app and do not have to be returned to a specific location, launched in London in autumn 2017. Initially there was a large number of operators across the capital with some setting up without consulting the local authority.

The main provider in Ealing borough was Mobike which operated in agreement with the council but, like many of the other companies, they now seem to have ceased providing a service in London. The council have been unable to make contact with the company.

Previously services like Mobike allowed riders to leave the bikes anywhere after use as long as they were parked ‘considerately’. If the new byelaw comes into effect it will mean that the hire bikes can only be left in areas designated by the council.

A fine of up to £500 could be payable by the operator if a bike is found outside a designated area. It is expected the operators would pass the cost of fines onto customers. However, concerns have been expressed that customers may become liable for fines for bikes they have parked legitimately but then are moved by a third party.

Mobikes could be parked anywhere as long as it was considerately

The byelaw would apply to all dockless hire vehicles, including e-scooters, bicycles and other micromobility vehicles that might become legal in the future.

Under current legislation, operators do not require consent or a licence from the local authority. Cycles may be removed if they cause a nuisance, obstruction or danger under the Highways Act 1980.

Having terminated its agreement with Mobike, Ealing Council has now entered into a Memorandum of Understanding with Lime a company that provides electrically powered dockless hire bikes. Earlier this year Lime acquired Jump from Uber and is incorporating these bikes into their system.

Lime bikes generally work out as being more expensive than Mobikes with a £1 initial charge and then 15p per minute thereafter.

If the cabinet approve the report it is expected that the new byelaw would come into effect early next year.

Alan Clark, Director UK Policy and Government Affairs at Lime said, “Lime is committed to working closely with councils across London to ensure its e-bikes are introduced in a way that best suits the communities they serve. Having the right infrastructure in place will be paramount to ensuring more people can make green and active travel choices. We look forward to continuing to build our and grow our service in partnership with Ealing Council throughout the new year.”

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December 10, 2020