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Westminster council outlines plans for crackdown on dockless e-bikes littering streets

Dockless e-bikes in Soho (Westminster City Council)
Dockless e-bikes in Soho (Westminster City Council)

Westminster City Council has detailed its plans to enforce new rules on dockless e-bikes, in a bid to stop them being dumped on pavements.

The Labour-run borough plans to create 220 parking bays for the bikes, after locals complained that they were a danger to people with disabilities and visual impairment.

People living close to each of the proposed bays have this week been written by the authority, informing them of the changes close to them and how they can feedback any specific issues with bay locations.

The biggest bay in the borough is proposed to go about halfway between Marble Arch and Bond Street Tube stations, with large bays also proposed at the southern end of Kingsway and by Oxford Circus.

The council confirmed that the new arrangement - the result of detailed discussions with the e-bike companies Lime, TIER and Forest - will be in place for a trial period of 18 months.

Bays will be put in place using an Experimental Traffic Order in two phases, starting in the West End, Covent Garden and Marylebone over the coming few weeks.

The authority has said it will create the bays by repurposing a mixture of underused resident car parking spaces, pay-to-park bays, yellow lines, underused cycle stands, and creating new spaces on the wide pavements “where appropriate”.

Riders wanting to end their journeys within the borough will have to use the bays, in order to avoid fines or even a ban from using the bikes.

Paul Dimoldenberg, the council’s cabinet member for city management and air quality, said that cycling is “a fantastic way to get around Westminster” but that the current dockless arrangement too often presented “a clear safety hazard” to pedestrians.

The new trial of parking bays will aim to “ensure our streets are kept clear and accessible for everyone”, he said.

It is estimated that there are around 3,000 hire bikes in Westminster borough at any one time.

In August 2022, the council began seizing dumped bikes that were deemed to be an “imminent risk to public safety” under the Highways Act 1980.

The authority said however that the vast majority of cases of bad parking are handled by the bike companies themselves, who employ teams across London to move bikes which have caused an obstruction.

A number of no-parking zones in narrow West End Streets were introduced earlier this year using ‘geo-fencing’ - meaning that in some areas of the borough, the ability to end a journey on the bike apps has already been disabled. This will now be extended across the whole borough, with the exception of the designated parking locations.

A map of the proposed e-bike parking bays in Westminster (Westminster City Council)
A map of the proposed e-bike parking bays in Westminster (Westminster City Council)

Hal Stevenson, director of policy for UK and Ireland at Lime, said the company "is proud to be working with Westminster Council to formalise our e-bike service in the borough”.

He added: “We have provided extensive usage data and funding to help design and implement a network of parking locations that will maintain convenience for our 1.25 million London users whilst improving parking and helping to prevent pavement obstructions, particularly for those with access needs."

The move was previously backed by Will Norman, London’s walking and cycling commissioner, who said that while the bikes were “clearly popular”, the way in which they are parked can present a “challenge”.