Dockless Bicycles: Consultation Upcoming

Correspondence has revealed a London-wide consultation on dockless bicycles is upcoming. Authorities want to keep dockless bicycles… but only allow them to be docked in certain places.

On 18th February 2020 the BCAAC wrote to Camden Council to argue that dockless bicycles should be banned from Bloomsbury and the surrounding conservation areas, to ensure that the enjoyment of Bloomsbury’s heritage would no longer be impeded.

It was argued that dockless bicycles were unnecessary in Central London due to the high density of ‘Boris Bikes’. Dockless bicycles were introduced to combat the so-called ‘last mile problem‘, where there may be a mile or more between an individual’s home or workplace and the nearest Boris Bike dock.

Evidently this is not a problem in Bloomsbury, as one is never more than a five minute walk from a Boris Bike dock.

A senior Met official also expressed his concern regarding the dockless bicycles as they were being used to facilitate crime in London.

They are also viewed with widespread contempt due to the way in which the public realm is cluttered and degraded by their presence, the way that providers ‘dump’ their bicycles in high traffic areas, and the way in which they can topple over on the pavement and cause difficult mobility problems.

This is particularly pertinent in Bloomsbury which is home to the RNIB on Judd Street.

It was understood that Camden Council were working with London Councils to draft a bylaw to control dockless bicycles, with the possibility of exclusion from certain areas.

Camden Council sent a comprehensive response to our request and concerns on 25th February 2020.

Despite all the concerns raised, it is clear that the bylaw will allow dockless bicycle usage throughout all of London, but ‘virtual docking locations’ will be introduced to prohibit the current practice of ‘dumping’ bicycles in inappropriate places.

The siting of these ‘virtual docks’ is apparently undergoing ‘careful consideration’, and yet it appears not a single Bloomsbury resident has yet been involved with these considerations.

The fact that the raison d’être of dockless bicycles being that they are dock-less seems to have escaped the rational faculty of our superiors. Dockless bicycles will therefore become a way to essentially ‘privatise’ an extension of the Boris Bike system, by setting up shared docking space for dockless bicycles.

However unlike Boris Bike docking stations, there will evidently be problems with these new areas becoming unsightly and cluttered. Camden are considering introducing these ‘virtual docking stations’ onto the public carriageway as well.

The bylaw is due to come to consultation this summer. The locations for these ‘virtual docks’ will also come to consultation before being adopted.

However as is so often the case, this consultation is likely to be token. We have known that Camden have been working on a bylaw since last summer yet this is the first news that we have heard of it. Certain communities are likely to be hit with a ‘virtual docking station’ on their doorstep which will become a hotspot for the dumping of these bicycles, and no doubt other waste.

The bylaw has evidently surpassed the ‘formative stage’ without any public consultation.

We will post an update when the consultation is due to go live.

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