Ban Dockless Bicycles from Bloomsbury

18th February 2020

We have learned that Camden are working with London Councils to draft a bylaw to control dockless bicycles, with the possibility of exclusion from certain areas.

We have asked for dockless bicycles to be banned from the Bloomsbury Conservation Areas.

These bicycles have a detrimental effect upon the special character and appearance of our conservation areas. There is very little public benefit arising from their presence in Central London, and significant public nuisance caused. Why exactly these bicycles are being supported at all considering the disaster in China is beyond us, although it has been speculated that it is partially political opposition to London’s own hire cycles still known as ‘Boris Bikes’.

We have also heard that these bicycles are facilitating crime in our conservation areas.

Whether or not we will see a full ban on these bicycles in Central London is unknown. It is perhaps more likely that ‘Can’t do Camden’ will simply allow these bicycles to persist for fear of increased costs in enforcement. We know from experience that the Highways Department fails to even get their own abandoned highways equipment removed within two years, so for them to carry the burden of enforcing a ban appears to be near-on impossible.

Our Letter

Regarding dockless bicycles in the Bloomsbury Conservation Areas.

We write concerning the usage of dockless bicycles in the Bloomsbury Conservation Areas. This is a set of seven conservation areas which we now cover as a CAAC, which comprises all of Camden south of Euston Road, except Hatton Garden. Although our purpose is primarily to comment on applications in our conservation areas, we take a wider interest in the preservation and enhancement of their special appearance and character.

We understand that Camden is currently working in partnership with London Councils to draft a bylaw to control these dockless bicycles, with the possibility of exclusion from certain areas.

These bicycles were an initiative to solve the problem of the so-called ‘last mile’. One reason conjectured why London’s hire cycles are not as popular as they might be is that in many areas of London, there may be a mile or more between a person’s home and the nearest dock. Dockless bicycles were meant to remove that impediment by removing the need for a dock, therefore removing the ‘last mile’, and encouraging cycling.

While this may indeed be useful in Greater London, in Central London there is no such need. The density of London’s cycle docks is high enough so that one is never more than a five minute walk from one. Whilst we accept that it may be useful to come across a bicycle at random occasionally for hire, the public benefit of this in Central London is admittedly slim.

The public nuisance caused by these cycles in our conservation areas far outweighs their benefit, in our opinion. The street environment of our conservation areas is of particular concern to us, in most cases detracting from their special character due to neglect and inappropriate alterations over the past few decades. The presence of these bicycles is inappropriate and further detracts from their special appearance, causing further clutter to an already cluttered environment in the best scenario. At worst they pile up in numbers and cause difficulty in navigating the streets, posing a significant health and safety risk, placing disabled individuals at a disadvantage. This is particularly pertinent to the many extremely busy areas of Central London.

We would hope that you could consider imposing a blanket ban on dockless bicycles within Central London. Whilst we accept that occasionally an individual may ride these cycles into the central area, we feel the providers should not be permitted to deploy their cycles in Central London, and should be required to remove bicycles left in Central London more or less immediately.

We would like to remind the Council that it has a duty to pay special attention to the desirability of preserving and enhancing the special appearance of their conservation areas.

Yours Sincerely
Owen Ward