Westminster City Council has begun seizing dockless bicycles left strewn on roads and pavements across central London.
The move follows a spike in bikes being dumped across the city throughout the summer. Westminster is seeing hundreds of dockless bikes abandoned in the middle of the pavement every day, creating a significant safety risk - particularly for disabled and elderly residents or visitors.
Dockless bikes are regularly found blocking pedestrian crossings and obstructing the pavement – forcing pedestrians and wheelchair-users to move into the road and putting their safety at risk.
In recent weeks, the council has attempted to engage with the major dockless bike operators and still hopes to find a solution which improves cycling in the city, but has been inundated with complaints about blocking access to pavements roads. The severity of the issue has grown throughout the year with people returning to the city following the end of Covid restrictions.
Westminster City Council has encouraged cycling to improve the health and wellbeing of residents and to reduce carbon emissions; for example, the council currently offers free cycling training to anyone who lives, works or studies in Westminster. But the council also wants to end the current ‘free-for-all’ on dockless bikes and for dockless bike operators to take responsibility for their infrastructure.
Council officers have now been instructed to remove and seize any bikes which are causing dangerous obstructions to pavements and roads. The council is also looking at options to charge operators the cost of removing the bikes, with the money being reinvested in cycling infrastructure.
Councillor Paul Dimoldenberg, Cabinet Member for City Management and Air Quality, said: “The council has begun seizing dockless bikes that we find blocking pavements and roads in Westminster. Trying to walk down some of our streets has become like attempting an obstacle course and we are fed up finding these bikes dumped across the city.
“Anyone in town this summer will see these cycles abandoned. It’s a nuisance and potentially dangerous, especially for those with disabilities.
“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.
“Any money we raise will go towards improving cycling infrastructure on our streets.
“Westminster City Council is supportive of cycling and the many benefits it brings, particularly when it comes to cleaning up air quality. We want to find a solution that works for everyone but, in the meantime, people living and visiting Westminster shouldn’t have to put up with this every day.”