Council monitoring rise in abandoned hire bikes across Camden after ‘numerous complaints’

A Lime bike. Photograph: Wikicommons

People who hack into electric hire bikes and use them without paying could be dumping them on pavements, according to transport bosses.

The number of people using hire e-bikes in Camden has soared, but some people are abandoning them on the streets and causing problems for people trying to get around.

More than 41,000 cyclists in Camden made 148,000 trips on the hire bikes in March. This is up from 91,000 journeys made by 31,000 people in December. This is expected to increase in the summer.

Popular routes include Prince of Wales Road in Chalk Farm and York Way near King’s Cross.

Politicians wanted to hear more about the plans to clamp down on abandoned bikes as the council has just signed two-year agreements with Lime Technology Limited and Human Forest Limited.

Both firms have to make sure 90 per cent of bikes are left in parking bays.

Lime has been the sole operator in Camden since the pandemic.

However people have been spotted riding Lime bikes which have been hacked, making them difficult to pedal and reach higher speeds as they cannot access the electric support, according to a Town Hall report.

Transport bosses think “bikes which are hacked like this are often dumped, rather than parked, in inappropriate locations”.

The report said the authority had “received numerous complaints about Lime bikes being poorly and inappropriately parked on pavements and other areas reserved for pedestrians.”

Camden is the latest council to look at the issue.

Westminster warned it would fine cyclists if they don’t park bikes properly.

City of london councillors have also complained about abandoned bikes in the Square Mile.

Camden supports bike hire as a way of reducing travel by polluting motor vehicles and making cycles more affordable to residents and visitors. There are 2,000 cyclists with concession passes for the hire e-bikes in Camden.

There are currently 190 dedicated parking bays in Camden and most of them are on the street.

They were picked because of high footfall and use of hire bikes in the area and to cut the amount of clutter on pavements.

According to transport chiefs, some cyclists do not know they have to leave their hire bikes in designated bays or can’t find them because of “inaccurate or outdated” information.

They discussed poor parking compliance with Lime, which has a progressive fine system for poor behaviour, starting at £2 and increasing to £20.

Other work includes looking at hotspots where people dump bikes, making it harder to hack the bikes, educating riders about parking bays, and increasing the number of rangers who return abandoned bikes.

The council is also creating another 18 parking bays and extending four of the others. It plans to have  280 parking bays by spring 2025.

A council spokeswoman said: “We are aware of some issues with hire bike parking on pavements in Camden, which are currently being monitored closely. We are also working with Lime to improve the situation.

“When obstructive hire bikes are reported to the council or the hire operators, they are usually relocated within one hour. We are not aware of any serious injuries or accidents involving hire bikes and pedestrians on our pavements, however any report of such an incident would be fully investigated.”

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