The company behind the Lime dockless bikes that have returned to the streets of Greenwich says it wants to work with the council on creating places where users can park their bikes without cluttering pavements.
Scores of the bikes have appeared in Greenwich, Blackheath and Charlton, although Lime says it has not officially launched the bikes in the borough.
Dockless bikes, including Lime bikes, have sporadically appeared in the area – including the bright yellow Ofo bikes four years ago – but Lime’s e-bikes have made their presence felt in the northwest of the borough in recent weeks.
Lime’s app shows a usage zone that covers most of central and inner London, running roughly as far as Charlton station, the Sun-in-the-Sands roundabout and Blackheath Village. In Lewisham, the zone takes in much of Hither Green and Catford.
In central London, Westminster City Council has taken a hard line on the operators – which include Lime and other companies – telling its officers to seize bikes left across its borough.
Paul Dimoldenberg, a senior councillor, told the BBC: “We’ve contacted the major dockless bike operators and made it clear that if they don’t remove their bikes from the pavement, the council will – and we’ll charge them for doing so.”
But asked by 853 about their Labour colleagues’ stance, a Greenwich spokesperson struck a softer note over the appearance of Lime bikes on the borough’s pavements.
“E-bike and pedal bike rental is currently unregulated in the UK. The council has some limited power to remove bikes that present a danger to road users, but not to regulate where they operate,” she said.
“The government has announced its intention to regulate e-bikes but the timeframe for this is unknown at this stage.
“As a council we are open to working with dockless bike operators, as part of a well-managed environmentally friendly travel strategy, but we also want to avoid the problems some schemes have had in other parts of the capital.”
Greenwich’s new draft transport strategy, published last week, says that it wants to work with operators and neighbouring boroughs to “establish how best to safely deliver an expanded dockless cycle hire network in the borough”.
Georgia Corr, the public policy manager at Lime, told 853: “We have an ongoing dialogue with Greenwich Council, and would love to bring our e-bike services to residents, along with parking spaces. We’ve never parked or distributed e-bikes in Greenwich, nor have we made e-bike parking available in the borough. We only do this in boroughs we have contracts with.
“There is significant demand for shared e-bikes not only in Greenwich, but the whole of London, and this transition to more active and sustainable travel is a real success story. We regularly remind our riders to park responsibly, and ask that they never leave a bike in a way that obstructs the pavement, or makes someone else’s journey more difficult.”
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