Residents of Soho have expressed disappointment with the implementation of a scheme aimed at addressing the issue of abandoned dockless e-bikes on footpaths. Westminster City Council, however, has urged residents to exercise patience.
Westminster cyclists using TIER, Lime, or Forest bikes are now required to park their bikes in designated bays at the end of their journeys, under the risk of fines or even bans.
The Council has repurposed underused car parking spaces and yellow-lined areas into e-bike parking bays as part of an 18-month trial. The Council is also creating geofenced virtual bays at under-used bike stands.
Jason Fisher-Jones, a board member of the Soho Society community organisation, shared a photo of Westminster cyclists ignoring the designated parking bays just a day after the scheme’s launch.
Fisher-Jones believes that the success of the scheme hinges on strict enforcement by both the Council and the operators. However, it’s unclear whether the operators have started imposing penalties on those who park outside the designated bays.
Concerns have been raised that the problem will only worsen as more bikes are introduced to the West End. Tim Lord, chairman of the Soho Society, argued that the London Assembly and UK Parliament aren’t doing enough to tackle the issue.
The Council has identified suitable locations for the parking bays in collaboration with the three e-bike companies. The scheme will take a few weeks to fully take effect. All parking bays will be rolled out by the end of November.
Geofencing will be used to ensure riders park in designated bays. Those who fail to do so may face fines or be banned from the companies’ platforms.
In addition, bike companies have employed rangers to ensure proper parking of e-bikes and to move any that obstruct the pavement.
Disability rights organisation Scope is supporting Westminster’s e-bike regulations. In an interview with MyLondon, Scope director James Taylor said that leaving e-bikes and e-scooters on pavements creates ‘a trip hazard’. It also makes travel more difficult for disabled individuals.
Image Source: Jason Fisher-Jones, https://shorturl.at/bEV19