E-bikes cause havoc on pavements as demands for docking stations increase

By Robert Firth, Local Democracy Reporter

Pedestrians have demanded e-bike companies make customers leave the vehicles in docking stations to stop pavements becoming cluttered.

Residents and tourists on the South Bank said the dozens of e-bikes in surrounding streets make the area look untidy and are an obstacle for disabled people.

Many rental bike operators in the capital let users leave the vehicles anywhere and, while riders are instructed to keep the bikes out of the way of pedestrians, in practice they are regularly left blocking the pavement.

An e-bike sits in the middle of Belvedere Road, Lambeth (Picture: Robert Firth)

E-bikes are the second most common type of street clutter found in streets in the capital after restaurant pavement signs, according to research by think tank Centre for London.

It found 11 e-bikes inconveniently parked within 400 metres on a stretch of Belvedere Road in Lambeth while carrying out an inspection of the street in May.

Mum and daughter Angela and Debbie Owens, who live nearby, said that something needed to be done about the rental bikes blocking streets.

Angela, 73, said: “They get in the way when you’re walking down the street. You have to zigzag around them. People just abandon them on the pavement. If you were blind or disabled, you would have trouble.”

Her daughter, 45, added: “I think people should have to put them in docking stations. They are left wherever at the moment.”

Councillor Rezina Chowdhury, deputy leader of Lambeth council, said e-bikes left on the pavement could cause a “real hazard” for pedestrians and said the council was asking the Government to give it powers to tackle the problem.

She added: “In the absence of this Government backing we are doing what we can locally. We have a signed memorandum of understanding with all of the dockless bike operators and, as a result, we are in the process of installing more than 200 kerbside bays.

“Once we have finished painting the bays in December they will be the only place they are allowed to be parked.”

In June, neighbouring Southwark council said it would start removing rental bikes that obstructed the pavement, and fine operators following a surge in complaints about them.

The following month Kieron Williams, leader of the council, admitted staff were yet to remove any of the e-bikes.

The Centre for London wants the Government to grant councils and Transport for London powers that would allow them to force e-bike operators to require customers to park the vehicles in dedicated zones.

The think tank said the bays should be located in the road where possible, rather than on the pavement.

Pictured top: Rental e-bikes covering the pavement in Belvedere Road, Lambeth (Picture: Robert Firth)

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