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Dockless bike hire byelaw will use parking to control schemes

Andrew Forster
21 June 2019

Details have been revealed of a proposed London-wide byelaw to control the operation of dockless bike hire schemes.

A paper by Mike Beevor, a senior policy manager at Transport for London, and presented to London Councils’ transport and environment committee last week, said the new approach would bring an end to individual boroughs reaching agreements with operators, replacing this with “borderless operations throughout Greater London”.

Boroughs will designate approved parking areas for bikes and the byelaw will “require all bikes to be left (whether by dockless operators or their customers) only in places agreed by the local authority”.  

It will be an offence for an operator “to place or allow their bikes to be parked anywhere other than at a location agreed by the local authority”. The byelaw will set a penalty for an operator committing an offence. It will also require all bikes to be chipped, ensuring they can be tracked. 

“Local issues, such as how many or how few parking places to approve and where they should be located, are all left for individual authorities to decide depending on their local circumstances,” said Beevor. “It is envisaged that approved spaces would not be exclusive to specific operators but would be open to other dockless companies, to facilitate journey across borough boundaries.”

Discussions are still underway about the byelaw’s precise wording but Beevor said that, in addition to dockless bike hire schemes, it could also apply to electric kick scooters and other micro-mobility vehicles. 

Boroughs will be able to charge operators for the parking spaces they make available.  

The byelaw will be subject to a consultation, probably in the autumn. The Government must grant it final approval.

A  London Councils spokesman told LTT the arrangements did not mean boroughs would have to accept dockless bike hire operations. A borough could choose not to designate authorised parking areas. 

On enforcement, the spokesman said: “We are currently looking at how enforcement would work across London. It is currently envisaged that enforcement would be by staff employed by individual boroughs and TfL, as is the current situation with other, similar offences.”

Beevor summarised the current state of play with dockless bike hire in the capital. Mobike operates in central and inner London; Lime operates an e-bike scheme in several boroughs and from some Thameslink rail stations; Jump has just launched in Islington; Freebike and Beryl are launching trials in the City of London; and Youon has been in touch with boroughs about a proposed launch. 

Chinese firm Youon announced a UK joint venture last autumn with Cycle.Land, a company formed in 2016 by University of Oxford graduates.

Beryl will also launch in Enfield at the end of this month. 

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