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Penalty warning for dockless bike hire companies

Town Hall face complaints about clogged up pavements

16 January, 2020 — By Richard Osley

HIRE companies who fail to control where users are leaving their bikes could face fines of up to £500. Under a new byelaw being drafted at the Town Hall, some areas of the borough could be made off-limits for hire-bike parking.

The council has offered support to the idea of getting more people active on two wheels, but it has also faced calls to do more to stop users from clogging up pavements and walkways with the bikes once they have finished using them.

Unlike Transport for London’s official hire bike service, companies like Lime and Uber’s Jump bikes do not need to be left in specific zones. Instead, users are urged to be conscientious about choosing a place to end their ride.

The New Journal reported last month how street “artists” were trying to fight back by collecting up the bikes and turning them into sculptures. An online group saw people compete to come up with the most striking arrangement.

The green and yellow Lime and Uber’s red Jump bikes, both of which are assisted by electric motors to make it easier to ride from a standing start, have permission to run a service in Camden with a 12-month trial running until August.

When challenged on the obstacles caused for the disabled, elderly or blind pedestrians, Camden’s environment chief Councillor Adam Harrison told a council meeting last year that passers-by could help by moving any badly-parked bikes to one side. He himself said he had found hiring Lime bikes useful.

But he also confirmed Camden and other boroughs were working on a byelaw to provide more control over parking and a progress report will be delivered to next Monday’s full council meeting.

The draft rules suggest fines with a top level of £500, the maximum penalty a magistrate could impose if a case went to court. Operators may also be required to chip all bikes and allow end-of-ride parking only in designated areas.

“Boroughs will therefore be able to control bike numbers through the number of permitted parking spaces that they provide in the borough,” a council report sent to the members this week said. “Officers are already undertaking work to designate a number of dockless parking locations to manage bike parking in the event that the byelaw comes into force.”

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