Dockless Bicycles

We are working to find a way to control or even ban dockless bicycles from Bloomsbury.

The Last Mile

Dockless bicycles were introduced as a solution to the so-called ‘last mile’ problem. Whereas the common ‘Boris Bike’ has been successful, in the outer reaches of London there may be a mile or more between a dock and someone’s home. This may deter someone from using the bicycles to commute, instead leading them to use a car or other polluting means of transport. This problem became known as the ‘last mile problem’.

The idea of dockless bicycles is simple: remove the dock, and you remove the last mile.

Whilst this idea is a good one, its execution throughout the world has been diabolical.

The principal problem has been that by removing the dock, you remove the very thing which facilitates the proper and ordered distribution of public bicycles. This has led to bicycles not just cluttering the public realm but making it sometimes impossible to navigate, especially for those with mobility issues.

In China where the initiative began, a form of economics emerged where providers recognised that whoever provided the most bicycles would make the most profit, simply because such a provider would more often than not have their bicycle on top of the pile of dumped bicycles near any interchange. This led to absolutely absurd situations where some millions of bicycles have now been confiscated by the Chinese authorities.

Source: The Guardian, STR/AFP/Getty Images

Crime

We have also heard from a senior source from within the Metropolitan Police that these bicycles are facilitating crime in London.

The Met have been issuing CPNs (Community Protection Notices) to individuals causing a persistent nuisance in a particular area. In Bloomsbury these have been concentrated around Russell Square and its underground station, and have been largely successful in reducing antisocial behaviour.

Individuals subject to a CPN have been using dockless bicycles to speedily navigate areas which they are banned from. Witnesses have observed these individuals riding into an area, dumping their bicycles and harassing individuals for money. When authorities take note they pick up the bicycle and speed off to another place.

It has been noted that these individuals damage the bicycles to remove the need to pay for their use.

Obstructions

Age UK recently tweeted a scene from outside St Pancras station lampooning authorities for allowing the build-up of these bicycles, making navigating the streets stressful and difficult for those with mobility problems.

In a the current revision the tweet’s content was made less explicitly critical.

Tweets are made daily criticising the local authorities and the GLA for allowing these bicycles to obstruct the highway.

What we’re Doing

London Councils, an organisation representing all London Boroughs and the City of London, is working to draft a bylaw to control these bicycles, with the possibility of exclusion from certain areas.

We are arguing that the bicycles should be totally excluded from Central London, including Bloomsbury.

The BCAAC are submitting a letter arguing that on heritage grounds the bicycles should be banned from the Bloomsbury Conservation Areas. The presence of these bicycles adversely affects the special appearance and character of the conservation areas. The Bloomsbury Conservation Areas is a set of seven conservation areas covering WC1, WC2 and part of EC1 and W1. A ban on these areas would see a ban for most of Central London.

It is argued that due to the high density of Boris Bikes in Central London, the ‘last mile problem’ is entirely irrelevant and so the raison d’être of this catastrophe simply doesn’t apply.

We are also suggesting a ban on these bicycles due to the adverse effect that they have on the street environment. The clutter brought by these bicycles only encourages further disrespect of the public realm.

Members of BRAG are also campaigning to have dockless bicycles banned in Bloomsbury.

We would appreciate your support in case we need a petition signed or to conduct a survey.

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