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Activist says rental bikes in Islington are a barrier to disabled

A new fleet of electric-assist bikes, called Lime, were introduced into Islington this week

22 March, 2019 — By Emily Finch

Lime bikes outside Essex Road station this week

A DISABILITY rights campaigner has warned that rental bikes are causing “obstruction and barriers” for people in wheelchairs or with visual impairments as a new “urban mobility company” launched a fleet this week.

There has been an influx of dockless rental bikes coming into the borough in the past two years – all backed by Islington Coun- cil.

Ofo bikes – known for their distinctive yellow colouring – were withdrawn from London earlier this year.

Meanwhile, the silver and orange Mobikes are now restricted to Camden, Westminster and the south of the borough. The bikes, booked through smartphones, are often the target of vandalism, with dozens seen at the bottom of Regent’s Canal.

A new fleet of electric- assist bikes, called Lime were introduced into Islington this week with many already seen outside major train and tube stations.

Andy Greene, manager at Disability Action in Islington, said after the announcement: “The bikes are inaccessible in many different ways. They litter our pavements, caus-

ing obstruction and barriers for people with a wide range of impairments including blind or visually impaired people or those with mobility impairments or wheelchairs.”

The bikes will cost £1 to unlock and £9 per hour to rent from “hotspots” across the borough. Lime says the lithium battery

power will make the bikes “suitable and accessible for people of any age or fitness level”.

But Mr Greene, who uses a wheelchair himself, asked: “How come there are never a variety of bikes for disabled cyclists? Such as hand-cycles or tricycles?”

He added: “The bike company might pride themselves on their ingenuity and modern approach to business models – but their attitudes and practices are steeped in an ignorance and disregard for disabled people more reflective of half a century ago.

“On every level, the companies who install these bikes are ignorant of the impact of their decisions on disabled people.”

A spokeswoman for Lime said: “Lime has a London operations team comprised of locally hired staff, whose intimate knowledge of the city is invaluable to the company’s service and integration. Since the e-bikes require battery changes every few days, the teamwork on the ground to constantly monitor and check the bikes.

“This means Lime’s equipment is thoroughly maintained and up to date in order to deliver the best quality product to their users.”

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