Greenwich Council is set to sign a deal which aims to end the scourge of abandoned hire bikes in the borough – including installing dedicated parking bays.
Lime bikes have been a familiar sight in the northwest of the borough for the past year, with scores of them available for hire in parts of Greenwich, Blackheath and Charlton. Some have also started to appear in Woolwich and Eltham.
But many of the bikes have been left blocking pavements – with multiple bikes left piled up in some areas.
Greenwich is now poised to sign a deal with Lime and a rival operator, Human Forest, which will involve the creation of dedicated parking bays for the bikes, as has happened in a number of other boroughs.
No details of the potential deal – referred to on an obscure corner of the council website – have been published. But Lime users who do not use the bays face additional charges and the possible suspension of their accounts in Camden, the City, Ealing, Hackney, Hounslow and Hammersmith & Fulham, and a possible Greenwich deal would be likely to follow suit.
Averil Lekau, the council deputy leader, also referred to the potential deal at last week’s full council meeting. Asked by Maisie Richards Cottell, an East Greenwich councillor, about the problem, she said: “We are seeing a lot of bikes coming into the borough. We’re now working with two companies to try and rationalise that. It’s having to ensure proper parking spaces so that they’re not using pavements and, and, and finding a way to regulate it so that it’s not becoming a nuisance.
“Because in some of the boroughs the question was, do you take them away when they’re blocking the way? But we do encourage any form of cycling and therefore this is something that we are looking to do.”
Dockless bikes have been an issue in London for some years now, with Greenwich initially exploring a deal when yellow Ofo bikes briefly arrived in the capital five years ago.
Both Westminster and Southwark have threatened companies and users whose bikes are dumped on pavements with enforcement action. But boroughs like Greenwich, who have effectively been shut out of TfL’s Santander Cycles scheme, have been attracted to dockless schemes because they are cheaper to set up.
As well as Lime – the most common but the most expensive of the operators – and Human Forest, Dott and Tier bikes also operate in other parts of London.
Hacking of bikes’ payment system has been a problem, with videos of how to get bikes without paying circulating on social media. In May Lime told Camden councillors that many dumped bikes had been hacked.