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Additional dockless bike scheme to hit London streets

In August, Human Forest, a UK-based ultra-sustainable mobility company, will launch a fleet of rentable electric bikes which could add to London’s problem with street clutter.

Islington and City of London will be the first boroughs to offer the rented bikes, although users will be able to start and end their rides in Camden and Kensington and Chelsea. More boroughs are slated to be served by these e bikes after the initial launch in August.

Gerald Carew, Chief Officer at London Vision, said: “These new electric bicycles will be operating largely on a dockless model, similar to that of Lime, Freebike, and Jump. Unfortunately, the dockless bike model contributes to the growing issue of street clutter on London’s pavements and footways.”

The Sight Loss Councils’ #StreetsForAll campaign and Transport for All’s recently launched Equal Pavements Pledge highlight the problems caused by street clutter, and the impact cluttered and inaccessible pavements have on people with disabilities. Additional dockless bicycle schemes in London have the potential to worsen this ongoing issue.

To quote Transport for All: “Disabled people cannot be forgotten as we reopen society”.

The rush to introduce new micro mobility schemes in London to satisfy the mayor’s transport strategy cannot come at the expense of disabled people’s transport and mobility needs.

Changes to the city’s infrastructure have already happened. These range from the pedestrianisation of large areas of central London to allow for al fresco dining and outdoor drinking space, to the installation of Low Traffic Neighbourhoods (read Transport for All’s Pave the Way report into LTNs). These changes happened without consulting some of the people who would be most impacted by them.

Some of these changes do have a positive impact on the environment and have allowed sectors of the population to interact and safely during the pandemic. Frequently, they have had a negative impact on people with disabilities and have made previously accessible parts of the capital newly inaccessible.

What we ask

  • London Vision asks that Human Forest’s fleet of e-bikes do not further contribute to London’s problem with street clutter.
  • We ask that Human Forest ensures its riders park responsibly and takes steps to penalise riders that do not.

In September 2018, Transport for London produced the Dockless Bike Share Code of Practice; section 8 of this document relates to parking, with the below points particularly relevant to blind and partially sighted and disabled people in London:

Point 8.1: Operators must engage with the relevant Highway Authority, organisations such as Network Rail and any other landowners to establish guidelines for where Dockless Bikes can and cannot be parked. This will include general parking rules and details of specific areas where parking is prohibited and Operators should ensure that customers trying to end their hires in these locations understand clearly what is permitted and the sanctions for non-compliance” (pt. 8.1 pg. 10)

Point 8.2: Restrictions applicable to eligible bicycle parking zones on the footway includes, without limitation:

  • Dockless bicycles shall not be parked within 2 metres (m) of a junction;
  • Dockless bicycles shall not be parked on a footway where the effective distance between the building line and the kerb is less than 2m wide. This is in addition to a 60cm parking provision for Dockless Bicycles;
  • Dockless bicycles shall not be ridden or parked within Royal Park premises. (pt. 8.2 pg. 10)

Point 8.6: Operators must inform customers how and where to park a Dockless Bicycle properly in their mobile application visually. It is recommended using best practice/ poor parking images and maps, and ensuring that the customer agrees with these in order to unlock the bicycle and is made aware of any sanctions associated with non-compliance. Examples of where not to park include, without limitation, fire escapes, emergency exists, lifts, accessibility infrastructure (wheelchair lifts or ramps) and TfL cycle hire docking stations. (pt. 8.6 pg. 11)

As part of its preparation for launching the scheme, Human Forest must pay particular attention to parking in London, and find solutions that won’t further disadvantage vulnerable road users.

 

Are you being impacted by dockless bike schemes in your borough? Get in touch with us on info@londonvision.org and let us know.

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