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Council warns dockless bikes are too easy to hack

Westminster City Council is calling for dockless bike companies to crack down on hackers.

Videos circulating across social media demonstrate how to bypass the dockless bike software and use bikes for free.

Concerns have been raised that riders using hacked bikes are untraceable, meaning the users can potentially dump bikes on the pavement without facing punishment and could even be involved in antisocial behaviour.

Westminster Council receives daily complaints about dockless bikes being abandoned on the pavement across the city. The council has called for apps to be improved so residents and businesses can report badly-parked bikes more easily. Discussions between the council and dockless bike companies about creating designated parking bays are ongoing.

The council recently welcome the announcement that Lime bikes will increase their fines on customers who dump bikes to a minimum of £10. And following discussions with the council, no-parking zones have recently been introduced in a number of key West End locations.

Councillor Paul Dimoldenberg, Cabinet Member for City Management, said:

“The council receives daily complaints about dockless e-bikes being dumped on the pavement, particularly in areas like Soho where the streets are narrow and pedestrians are potentially put in danger.

“We’re also very concerned about the apparent ease with which these bikes can be hacked and essentially used for free. There are videos across social media which demonstrate how to hack Lime bikes, and we hope that all dockless bike companies will do more to tackle this.

“Our priority has always been the safety of residents and visitors to the city and keeping our pavements clear. If these bikes are hacked, the rider is untraceable and the bikes can simply be dumped with impunity.”

Published: 13 April 2023