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Westminster City Council launches parking bays for hire e-bikes

Soho Square parking bay

Westminster City Council has launched a network of parking bays for cyclists using hire e-bikes. Riders using TIER, Lime or Forest bikes will now have to park their bikes in the designated bays to end their journeys, or they could face fines and even a ban.

As part of an 18-month trial, the council has extended a number of existing bays designated for e-scooters and has repurposed underused car parking spaces and yellow lined areas into e-bike parking bays. In addition to the 200 physical parking bays, more than 100 geofenced virtual bays have been created at under-used bike stands and will also form part of the network.

The aim of the scheme is to remove badly-parked bikes from the pavement, ensuring bikes are parked safely and not blocking pavements for pedestrians. The council and the bike companies also aim to encourage cycling as an environmentally friendly and convenient way to get around central London.  

The council has worked closely with bike companies Lime, TIER and Forest over several months to identify suitable locations for the parking bays, which will be rolled out during October and November. Geofencing will be used to ensure riders complete their journeys in a designated bay, and those who don’t comply can be fined or even be banned from using the platform.

Teams of Rangers employed by the operators will be required to patrol the parking bays and streets to ensure that e-bikes are properly parked and to move any which are blocking the pavement.

Westminster City Council has repeatedly called for the government to introduce legislation to address the limited regulatory powers to manage dockless bike schemes in England. The council has lobbied government to announce a Transport Bill in the upcoming King’s Speech on 7 November.

Councillor Paul Dimoldenberg, Cabinet Member for City Management and Air Quality, said:

We’re very excited to launch our network of e-bike parking bays across the City of Westminster.

The popularity of hire e-bikes has exploded over the last year, but unfortunately the council has received many complaints about bikes being left in the middle of the pavement creating a safety hazard for pedestrians.

We’ve worked with the bike companies to develop a solution which means people can continue to cycle around the city safely and ensure the pavements are accessible for everyone.

And the council continues to push for new legislation from government to regulate e-bike hire schemes across London.

It will no doubt take a few weeks for all e-bike riders to get used to the new parking system, but we hope that very soon the vast majority will park their bikes safely in the new designated bays.

Alex Berwin, Forest Head of Policy, said: 

The launch of Forest bikes and a dense network of parking bays across the borough, marks a great step for Westminster and its progress towards reaching net zero by 2040. As a central London borough whose Climate Emergency Action Plan demonstrates its commitment to improving local air quality, we are proud to be offering our affordable and sustainable bikes to the local community. 

We're also acutely aware of the importance of considerate parking in the borough, which is why alongside the geofencing measures, Forest has invested in industry-leading technology such as artificial intelligence to analyse and educate users' parking and provide incentives to encourage responsible behaviours. As the only operator to do this, we hope Forest will lead the charge in finding innovative ways to support the long term success of dockless e-bikes in the City of Westminster.

Hal Stevenson, Director of Policy at Lime UKI: 

Lime is proud to work with Westminster Council to formalise our e-bike service in the borough, including the introduction of designated parking bays and racks. We have provided extensive usage data and funding to help the Council design and implement the network locations that will maintain convenience for Lime's 1.25 million London users, while also helping to prevent pavement obstructions, particularly for those with access needs.

It is a hugely positive and collaborative step forward that will encourage even more people to choose green, alternative transport options when travelling in London. We'll be supporting the launch with Lime's Parking Wardens on patrol this week in Soho, rewarding riders that park in the new bays with some surprise golden ticket prizes to say thank you.

Benjamin Bell, Senior Director, Public Policy and Communications, TIER, commented:

 We welcome this bold, forward-thinking step to create an expansive network of parking bays for shared e-bikes in the heart of one of the world’s busiest cities. Shared micro-mobility helps people travel locally with ease while leaving the car at home, thereby easing congestion and improving air quality.

The collaboration and openness from the Council has been so impressive. We are sure our users will adapt to the new system quickly and the wider public will benefit from this move to tackle clutter in  Westminster.

Read more about the parking bay roll-out

Published: 9 October 2023