More now than ever before, people are demonstrating – through words and action – that they want to live increasingly green, healthy lives. Government, both at the local and national level, needs to respond to that change, finding solutions to satisfy and support more socially conscious, environmentally engaged communities.
It is for that reason that a large number of councils around London are working with new, innovative companies to help deliver for the residents they serve. One such example is Lime, who as many readers will be aware introduced a fleet of e-bikes to Bromley earlier this summer as part of an ongoing trial. The battery powered bikes, distributed to key locations around the borough, offer users a healthy and eco-friendly means of transport, and will, I hope, encourage more people to take up cycling.
The dockless, free-standing nature of the bikes means they can be picked up or dropped off with more flexibility than other similar app-based schemes. Although this is a major draw, I’m also very aware that it has the potential to cause problems, particularly when bikes are dumped in front of driveways or unhelpfully left in the middle of paths. They can be heavy to move and cause obstacles for people with prams and mobility scooters, as well as those who are visually impaired.
Last week I met with Lime to discuss this issue. While the bikes are GPS tracked, allowing the monitoring of their location, Lime themselves recognise this isn’t always enough to mitigate the problem. As part of the Council’s Memorandum of Understanding with Lime, all bikes parked inconsiderately and reported will be moved within a matter of hours, and their app also provides guidance on where the bikes should and shouldn’t be left. On top of this, London Councils, who I work with closely through my chairing of the All-Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) for London, are in the process of designing a by-law that would stipulate designated spaces where the bikes must be parked. This would still enable the flexibility of the scheme but within tighter parameters – a sensible middle ground.
The early signs indicate the trial has been a success, and most residents I speak to welcome the addition of Lime to Bromley. I’ll continue to work with everyone involved to help ensure we keep on the right path.