Camden Council clamps down on poor hire bike parking

Camden Council has acquired new powers to control poorly parked e-hire bikes, which can obstruct pavements and hinder pedestrians.

The council is using a contract approach, into which it has entered with hire bike providers Human Forest and Lime.

The council has previously backed the introduction of a London-wide byelaw, which would have provided boroughs with the powers to regulate ‘dockless’ hire bikes. Some London boroughs declined to proceed with the measures.

Currently, no powers exist in England to manage the impacts of hire bikes; no powers exist to either ‘ban’ or ‘permit’ e-hire bikes.

Alongside addressing problems with hire bike usage, the new arrangements will promote the use of the nearly 200 designated parking bays rolled out by Camden Council in the last two years. With more than 100,000 hire bike journeys starting in the borough each month, the enhanced, contractual provisions will support the goal of enabling people to travel in sustainable, healthy ways. In Camden, more than two-thirds of people do not have a car, and already more than 8 in 10 trips made by Camden residents are made by public transport, walking and cycling.

Councillor Adam Harrison, Cabinet member for a Sustainable Camden

This contract finally gives us the legal powers we need to act against ‘dockless’ hire firms if they do not meet our high standards of parking compliance.

This will help us control the numbers of bikes in the borough, ensure that bikes are parked in bays, and make sure that operators swiftly remove any that are blocking the pavement. Through the contract, we can also ensure that operators fine people who do not park properly and ban persistent offenders.

“Notably, the e-assist nature of the hire bikes can play an important role in opening cycling up to more people, including older people, and to enable everyone to cycle more easily in hillier parts of Camden.

Councillor Adam Harrison, Cabinet member for a Sustainable Camden

The decision supports the council’s wider policies including promoting and enabling walking in the borough by helping ensure pavements are clear for people. It will also support the cutting of air pollution in Camden, which still breaches World Health Organization levels, and will enable zero-carbon forms of travel. It builds on the recommendations of Camden’s climate emergency citizens’ assembly, which commits to actions to incentivise and increase the uptake of electric transport, which includes e-bikes and e-scooters.

Councillor Harrison continued:

"I am proud Camden was the first local authority in London to roll out a comprehensive network of dockless bike hire and e-scooter bays. We have put in place almost 200 bays so far, and recently consulted on the next phase of expanding them. We aim to reach almost 300 bays by 2025. Over 90% of those bays are on the carriageway, rather than the footway – again, to protect pedestrian space.

“We also need other boroughs in London to adopt the same model. It’s important to use contract powers to improve enforcement, but until hiring and parking is consistent across the capital, problems are likely to persist.

“Our democratically adopted policy is clear: pedestrians are our top priority, but they are too often overlooked in debates about travel in London, as are people who would cycle if they had the right bike to support them to do so. Properly managed, such ‘micro-mobility’ innovations can help transform travel in Camden.

"We continue to call on the government to provide powers to all local authorities through the upcoming Transport Bill. Failure to do so will leave many councils powerless to respond to public concerns, and the streets littered with bikes that should be parked in bays.”