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New by-law to control hire bikes could take a year

Camden urged to take a ‘robust’ action over blocked pavements

22 July, 2019 — By Richard Osley

Lime bikes parked on the pavement in Downshire Hill, Hampstead

CAMDEN’S attempts to bring in a new by-law to control dockless hire bikes blocking the pavements could take a year to introduce.

Environment chief Councillor Adam Harrison said that, in the meantime, it was up to the companies to respond quicker and for the public to help out by clearing pavements of any bikes they see causing an obstruction.

He told an all member council meeting: “Sometimes the cases you see aren’t because somebody has parked inappropriately, it’s because somebody has come along and knocked them over subsequently. There is an onus on the operator to be able to respond quickly to that, and there is probably an onus on the rest of us who are able to: if you do see a bike that’s fallen or has been pushed, put it back where it should be so that it doesn’t block the way for others.”

Cllr Harrison is a supporter of the wave of new hire bikes available, and told a full council meeting that their arrival in the borough had got himself into cycling.

“I do think, by and large, that the bikes are parked appropriately although there are some cases where they are not,” he said “I use Lime [one of the hire bike operators]. I used one today to get to the council meeting.”

Cllr Harrison had been challenged on complaints that some users park the bikes in inappropriate places by the Lib Dems.

Lime and JUMP, which is run by Uber, have joined the orange frames of Mobike in the competition to attract riders looking to make short trips by bike. Unlike the Mayor of London’s bike hire scheme, which uses fixed point docking stations, the companies are relying on customers to choose sensible places to park when they are finished.

The New Journal reported earlier this month how a collection of Mobikes were trussed up in a free-standing sculpture which led passers-by to wonder if it had been created as a form of protest at the congested pavement in Camden Road, Camden Town.

At the time, Cllr Harrison confirmed that local authorities were working on a by-law to cover dockless hire bikes, but he told the council meeting earlier this month that this would not happen overnight.

He said: “We currently do not have any power to stop them or give permission to them, but we are working on a by-law with all the other London councils to acquire those powers and give ourselves more ability to control where they go and take action where we think companies are not engaging properly.”

Adam Harrison speaking at the meeting

He added: “Some of them are willing to engage with us and sign memorandums of understanding. We are currently speaking to Lime and JUMP for example. We are in that dialogue and we hope to conclude something semi-formally before actually moving towards a by-law, probably in about a year’s time.”

Lib Dem councillor Tom Simon said: “While there are, of course, some transport benefits, they continue to obstruct our pavements, causing significant problems for those with restricted mobility.”

He called on Camden to take more “robust” action and said pedestrian as had “yet to see the fruits” of negotiations with the private operators




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