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TfL to trial real-time monitor of dockless bike hire activities

21 February 2020

Transport for London and selected boroughs are to trial  real-time monitoring of public bike hire schemes.

TfL has invited software firms to bid for an 18-month micromobility data sharing pilot, which will be rolled out across the capital if successful. It could ultimately be used to monitor other micromobility schemes such as e-scooters, if their use is legalised.

The system must provide TfL and boroughs with a near real-time (up to one minute latency) picture of micromobility hire scheme activity across the capital, as well as analytical tools. 

Data requirements include: the location of all dockless micromobility hire vehicles; their unique vehicle identifiers; the type of vehicle; their propulsion type; the vehicle status (available for hire/out of service); and journey start and end data.

It must also allow historic and real-time data to be filtered by at least: operator; vehicle type; propulsion type; borough; and time. 

TfL suggests the system could eventually allow rider behaviour to be monitored, “such as the ability to ingest and share ‘swerve’ data should vehicles be fitted with gyroscopes or other technology capable of communicating such data”. 

The system must also two-way data flows so that TfL and boroughs can communicate with the operators, for instance providing them with policy and transport network updates.

TfL says it doesn’t currently have much information about how people use rental bicycles in London, and says the data from the new system could inform policy and investment decisions. 

“Data on dockless cycles, such as aggregating origin and destination data and routes taken, could influence decisions in areas like expanding cycle routes/infrastructure, investments in junction safety and influencing operators to expand into areas in need of better active transport options.”

The system will also enable TfL and boroughs to ensure operators comply with the proposed Greater London Dockless Vehicle Byelaws (LTT 06 & 20 Dec 19). These will stipulate that hire bikes and any other dockless vehicles authorised must be left in authorised parking areas. Enforcement teams will use the data to target problem areas. 

Discussing the possibility of e-scooters being legalised for use in public places, TfL says they  “would likely see a large increase in the number of dockless vehicles on London’s streets”. 

TfL has invited boroughs to register interest in taking part in the pilot, which is expected to go live in May/June 2020. The estimated contract value is £200,000. 

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