There is no question that in a city with limited space, shared transport, whether buses, tubes, electric cars, cycles, e-bikes or e-scooters, must be an essential part of our transport strategy. The Mayor’s Transport Strategy states that we have to switch from 63% public transport walking and cycling to 80% by 2041. We will have to do better, faster than that if we are to meet net zero emissions by 2030.
Shared e-bikes are popular in boroughs that agreed terms with operators to allow their use (with operators reporting record increases in use). What is less popular is the parking of e-bikes where they cause an obstruction. Simply confiscating e-bikes and e-scooters littering the pavement, however, is not the answer to this problem.
Providing sufficient parking ‘corrals’ (marked spaces on the road where bikes can be left, sometimes in a fenced area) and negotiation or enforcement of agreed terms with hire bike operators should be the solution. Cooperation with neighbouring boroughs will also help, but that is a common concern for a range of regulatory and enforcement issues.
London boroughs have so far failed to collectively agree London-wide common terms of for e-bike regulation (as there is for e-scooters) because of internal objections. However, all current London e-bike operators have signed up to the CoMoUK Accreditation Terms, that LCC has supported, and should abide by those terms, which can be brought up by councils. New technology, whether on-bike GPS or cameras, is enabling operators to enforce parking more accurately. They can also incentivise users (through fines or rewards) to park in specific locations and not block pavements. One operator, Lime has a form on their website that enables the public to inform them where more e-bike parking is needed, as well as a campaign asking users to park bikes they use responsibly (Lime is an LCC strategic partner, but all views in this article are those of LCC).
As ever, shared electric mobility is a vital part of our response to the climate crisis. And badly-parked shared e-bikes and e-scooters are a genuine and serious issue for some Londoners using pavements. But keeping in mind the big picture, we already have more than two million cars parked in London (in some streets partly on pavements) – finding space for some 2,000 shared e-bikes is surely a challenge London councils can resolve with hire companies, at a time when most boroughs have declared climate emergencies and when they are committed to reducing car dependency. LCC has been calling for shared mobility and we think every Londoner should live and work within 300m of a shared parking bay, as outlined in our Climate Safe Streets report. Rollout of such bays will help London e-bike and e-scooter users and councils enable responsible and sociable mode shift.
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