Lime bike users will have to leave their bikes in designated bays in the borough of Lewisham in future as the council tries to crack down on dumped bikes cluttering up pavements.

The hire company has committed to removing dumped bikes within 12 hours once they are reported – and within two hours if they are causing an obstruction. Riders will not be able to end their journey without parking in a designated bay.

A Lewisham spokesperson told The Greenwich Wire that the bays would be rolled out across the borough, starting in the north – where most bikes are already available – and moving south over the next six months.

While dumped bikes have caused aggravation for many locals, dockless systems are attractive to councils who have effectively been shut out of TfL’s Santander Cycles scheme because they would have to meet the bill for installing bikes, docking stations and other infrastructure themselves. 

Dumped Lime bike on Thames foreshore
In Greenwich borough, the bikes have even been dumped in the Thames. Credit: The Greenwich Wire

Many of the dumped Lime bikes have been hacked or deliberately damaged to enable a free ride – making a distinctive clicking sound as they run without power. Lime has said it is working on solutions to fix this.

A Lewisham spokesperson told The Greenwich Wire that the bays would be rolled out across the borough, starting in the north and moving south over the next sixth months.

Louise Krupski, Lewisham’s cabinet member for environment and active travel, said: “Dockless hire bike schemes are a great way to promote active travel, provided they are managed properly. By agreeing this new partnership with Lime, we can support people in Lewisham to make more journeys using hire bikes, as well as addressing existing issues with inconsiderate parking and discarded bikes.”

Manish Kharel, general manager for Lime in London, said: “Demand for shared e-bikes in London is at a record high, and Lewisham is no exception. It’s really promising to see more residents choose greener, active transport options to connect around the borough and city. 

“We are delighted to be working in partnership with Lewisham Council to launch this new service, including the introduction of designated parking bays. We have worked closely with them to identify suitable locations for these bays – clear of pedestrian walkways and based on Lime trip data to ensure they are in areas of high demand.” 

Human Forest bikes on border of Southwark borough
Greenwich has said it is working towards a deal with Lime and Human Forest. Credit: The Greenwich Wire

Neighbouring Southwark Council already has deals in place with Lime and a rival operator, Human Forest, although these do not include riders having to use dedicated parking bays.  Lewisham said it was not working with any other operators at present but would keep the policy under review.

In July, The Greenwich Wire revealed that Greenwich – where Lime bikes are most common in the northwest of the borough – was working towards a similar deal with Lime and Human Forest. Greenwich Council has been contacted for an update.