Camden plans new by-law to protect pavements from used hire bikes
A sculpture of Mobikes was left in Camden Town last week
27 June, 2019 — By Helen Chapman
Briana Mullins and Kate Dotsikas in Camden Road
WAS it an artwork by a budding sculptor – or a protest by someone who believes too many used hire bikes are cluttering the pavements of Camden Town?
Only a mystery man in a high-vis jacket who was spotted fixing together a collection of Mobikes knows the real motive behind the eye-catching tower of orange and black metal left in Camden Road.
The appearance of the bike structure in the early hours of Friday comes as Camden Council works on a by-law aimed at controlling the spread of dockless rental bikes amid complaints that they are blocking pavements for pedestrians. Mobikes are booked using a mobile phone app.
Users do not have to search for a docking station at the end of the ride, as they do with Transport for London’s hire bike scheme. Instead, they are locked in an upright position with the onus on cyclists to leave them in sensible spots.
A similar scheme run by another company, Ofo, was pulled from London streets in January after complaints of vandalism, but since then the Lime bike scheme and Uber’s Jump bikes, both of which come with an electric motor, have arrived.
Camden environment chief Councillor Adam Harrison said: “We are trying to have control over these bikes. Some companies are cooperative with the council, but others are not. We would like to agree a by-law and are working with London Councils [the body which aims to get local authorities working together] about this, but it is a long process.”
Briana Mullins and Kate Dotsikas, who live above Camden Coffee House, in Camden Road, where the Mobike structure appeared, said they heard crashing early on Friday.
The new sculpture that appeared in Camden Road last night[/caption]
Ms Dotsikas, from Canada, said: “We saw a man outside flipping bikes over. Someone was asking if he was ok. He wearing a yellow, hi-vis vest and listening to folk music on his portable speakers. “I regret not asking him more questions. I don’t know if it means anything, like in some sort of protest. But it’s nice that people stop and look and that someone tried to make art. As he was leaving he said: ‘I’ll be back.’”
It took three hours for the mystery man to build the structure, the flatmates said.
Ms Mullins added: “We asked if he was an artist and he said: ‘No, but I’m thinking about becoming one.’ “I think he must live in the area and was annoyed by the bikes. They are always scattered in front of our door.”
The New Journal attempted to contact Mobike, but a spokesperson could not be reached. The firm tells users to park bikes “responsibly” – and warns against causing an obstruction.