back to article Transport for London data pilot: We want to keep tabs on dockless bikes and e-bikes

Transport for London is launching a pilot data project to help it keep track of dockless rental bikes and e-bikes in the UK capital, the aim being to avoid a pile-up of two wheelers dumped on the pavement. Initially slated for 18 months, the project is designed to create a “system capable of ingesting data from micro mobility …

  1. GlenP Silver badge

    so could potentially include e-scooters, should the UK ever legislate to allow their use on the road

    The UK is already allowing e-scooter trial projects, we have one here. Over the last couple of weeks I've seen several of the scooters dumped on the pavements (sufficient to block access to a wheelchair or pushchair), two being ridden on the pavements and zero being ridden on the roads where they're supposed to be.

    If the location data is sufficiently accurate to tell whether the machine is "parked" (i.e. outside some shops where there is plenty of room) or "dumped" (on the pavement) it would be great. Give the operator 2 hours to remove the dumped ones or the Council removes them at the £300+ charge per time. Of course that would never happen.

    1. Tigra 07
      Childcatcher

      RE: GlenP

      I've seen a few of these annoying things too, and again, always on the pavement (I'm aware they're illegal on the roads here, but they're also illegal on the pavement).

      I won't jump on the usual bandwagon of the Daily Mail and Express, etc, since i'm a cyclist, and just existing sends a minority of motorists into a murderous rage. It's gotten so bad in the last 3 months i've invested in one of those bike cameras and forwarded almost 10 incidents to West Mids Police...They are yet to do anything...And so with zero enforcement this will continue to get worse, and these dangerous scooters will continue to proliferate.

      1. katrinab Silver badge
        Megaphone

        Re: RE: GlenP

        Report them on fixmystreet.com. In your report, list all the hazards that this causes.

        By doing this, there is a public record of the complaint, and they will act, because if someone is injured, they can't claim they didn't know about the problem.

        1. Roland6 Silver badge

          Re: RE: GlenP

          >Report them on fixmystreet.com.

          The one thing I dislike about these sites is that they don't pass on positive feedback - so you are unable to ensure the relevant department/team/individual gets a pat on the back when something is done well.

          1. Alan Brown Silver badge

            Re: RE: GlenP

            Various councils are using fixmystreet as a backend so the positives are being passed on in those cases

            Various OTHER councils (SURREY!) are actively hostile to fixmystreet and affectively refuse complaints or make them diifficult to submit by stripping out just about everything FMS provide on the way through

        2. Tigra 07

          Re: RE: GlenP

          To clarify that part about the scooters: I've not seen any of them parked. My beef with them is just seeing people fly past on them on pavements. At least when i seee a bike on the pavement i can acknowledge that person is likely scared to cycle on the road, or is a kid.

      2. John Robson Silver badge

        Re: RE: GlenP

        Slight correction - the scooters aren't dangerous, the people using them are...

        And I'd far rather they were using a scooted than a moped or a car, because idiots tend to be idiots whatever form of transport they are using (though anecdotally completely isolating forms of transport (i.e. being enclosed in a car) bring out the idiot in more people than those where you can see the person).

        1. john.jones.name
          WTF?

          dumped - gyro

          the operators can easily see if the scooter is lying on its side (they have a gyro in the tracking package) and also can obtain the location via GNSS / Wifi / Bluetooth

          they could start to report users or at least warn them to prop it upright in a safe place...

          but thats ot really in the companies intrest and they will only do it if regulated to do so...

          gbfs is pretty much useless for the regulator and gives no feed of the routes taken nor if it was dumped on its side vs standing upright it has things like android pay which is not really relevant for a regulator...

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: dumped - gyro

            Maybe the idiots who rent these things might pay attention to such warnings, but don’t count on it. They generally have the social graces of Donald Trump. Take it from an inhabitant of a city on the other side of the pond: these godawful contraptions will be scattered everywhere by the inconsiderate bozos who rent them. Traffic rules and regulations will be ignored. Old people will break bones tripping over these things. Don’t legalize them!

            1. jake Silver badge

              Re: dumped - gyro

              Exactly The general consensus seems to be "It's a rental. Who cares?". Only to be expected in today's "what's in it for me?" throw away society, alas.

              1. Medical Cynic

                Re: dumped - gyro

                It would concentrate their minds if they continued to be charged until they are parked appropriately. Could run up considerable credit card bills - I assume they give card details when hiring, and are charged until it's redocked?

        2. Tigra 07

          Re: RE: GlenP

          That's like saying cars aren't dangerous, and is a fallacious argument since people without cars are more dangerous when added to cars, and dangerous people with guns are more dangerous with guns, etc.

        3. ICL1900-G3 Bronze badge

          Re: RE: GlenP

          I'm amazed you have so many downvotes. We are car-obsessed in the UK and completely ignore the harm they do.

    2. katrinab Silver badge
      Meh

      The police and councils tend to be pretty good at enforcing parking regulations, to the exclusion of everything else, so I don't share your reservations about the prospects of this happening.

      1. Alan Brown Silver badge

        "The police and councils tend to be pretty good at enforcing parking regulations, to the exclusion of everything else, "

        Not around here (Surrey)

        Police have almost zero interest in anything parking related and councils effectively only ticket yellow/zigzag line offences

        Pavement obstructions, dangerous parking, HGVs on pavements, dropped curb obstructions and parking on intersections isn't being enforced (council say XYZ is a police job, police say it's a council job. mexican standoff)

        dangerous/obstructive parking by blue badge holders anywhere (even on paint) is ignored by parking wardens "because they have blue badges", despite the county blue badge office confirming they should be ticketed for such things

        But go over time in a council car park...

        Interestingly, Surrey councils (district and county) are still using parking income as general revenue, which isn't legal per the Barnet council case and the North Dorset auditor report in the public interest

        https://www.racfoundation.org/media-centre/barnet-council-loses-parking-charges-case

        https://localgovernmentlawyer.co.uk/governance/396-governance-news/25327-district-council-unlawfully-increased-parking-charges-auditor-finds

      2. iron Silver badge

        In my area the Police actively ignore parking violations such as parking on double yellows at a corner and parking fully on the pavement because they are fans of the same football club as the worst offenders. I guarantee that if I walk down my street right now I will see at least one serial offender parked improperly.

        1. Pen-y-gors Silver badge

          Parking on the pavement?

          Dunno about the wider world, but in Cymru (and I suspect England) parking on the pavement is not actually an offence. What IS an offence is *obstructing* the pavement. But that only happens when someone is actually obstructed, not when it is still merely a possibility. So, it has to be complained about by the person obstructed to have any hope of the plods doing something.

          Interestingly, the Senedd in Cardiff is considering (or maybe has passed) legislation to make the actual parking illegal.

    3. Duffy Moon

      They might as well allow their use, as they're everywhere now. At least they might be able to tax them then (all revenue to go to the NHS to pay for the inevitable treatment when the user ends up in A&E).

      1. Ringo Star

        oh stop it.

        More people end up in hospital because of bicycles, especially the spandex types that do their fast n furious stuff. I'm so tired of all these anti-scooter people. You were probably against mobile phones too when they came out.

        1. Alan Brown Silver badge

          "More people end up in hospital because of bicycles"

          New Zealand's "no fault" public cover accident insurance scheme has kept pretty comprehensive stats on these things and rental e-scooters have an unimpressively massive list of injury crashes to their credit compared to the numbers actually deployed

          https://www.acc.co.nz/newsroom/stories/e-scooters-wellington-city-its-your-turn/

          knee injuries are painful and _expensive_, whilst most cyclist claims in NZ tend to be for replacement safety kit (it's replaced free in the event of a collision. The insurer regards this as cheap maintenance)

          There's a bigger problem with scooters than lycra louts because lycra kit is pricey but any drunk can jump on a cheap e-scooter (for some reason they tend to stay away from rental cycles)

          1. jake Silver badge

            Stats in New Zealand ...

            ... are not the same as the stats in London. Or San Francisco, for that matter.

            1. Alan Brown Silver badge

              Re: Stats in New Zealand ...

              New Zealand's accident reporting and claims system tends to make stats collection unbiased. There's no incentive to game the system and conversely there's no incentive not to report injuries from this kind of activity.

              (Unlike countries where accident insurance is privatised and hospital treatment for something not your fault can be bankrupting)

        2. Tigra 07
          Facepalm

          RE: Ringo Star

          Cyclists kill less than 2 people a year on the road, so get some perspective. Cars kill hundreds...

          More people end up in hospital because of cars, especially the racer types that do their fast n furious stuff. I'm so tired of all these anti-scooter people. You were probably against mobile phones too when they came out.

          Fixed it for you!

    4. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      zero being ridden on the roads where they're supposed to be

      I saw two on the road, I must say, in both cases the riders wore dark-clothes and it was quite a shock to see a "stationary pedestrian" move at such a high speed - on the road, kinda... magic soles?! I guess my brain will need to get used to the sight, although I expect lots of accidents, at least initially. And no, I don't believe at all this is going - significantly - "ease the congestion" and "reduce motor vehicle use". Instead, I can easily see that those who chose to walk a few blocks, will now step on a scooter platform. Great for your health, I hear :)

    5. Ringo Star

      old people shake fist at new technology

      waah scooters evil, them kids on the pavement, blah blah blah.

      i hate listening to geriatric people complain about the future of transport.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Ahh, bless, I remember when I was a little child and thought all new things were coll just because they were new.... don't worry you'll grow up soon.

        Hmm, it seems calling people names is the best way to settle a disagreement..... or perhaps not....

        1. Ringo Star

          the only people against scooters are old.

          I have yet to see a 20 year old complain about 'dem scooters.

          calls me out for calling people "names" (since when is geriatric a "name") but is entirely condescending in reply. doesn't' really help your moral case here. enjoy your echo chamber

          1. Ozan

            All the bikers and drivers complain about them. They go on the roads and people leave them blocking the road. I ride a bicycle every morning and I have to dogle couple of "parked" scooters now and then. I find the idea nice but they better park the damn things better.

          2. jake Silver badge

            " have yet to see a 20 year old complain about 'dem scooters."

            I've seen many 20 year olds (and younger) pick up the things and throw them into the nearest large body of water. They are a new form of urban blight here in the Bay Area.

      2. Alan Brown Silver badge

        "waah scooters evil, them kids on the pavement, blah blah blah."

        Believe it or not, there's a speed limit on the pavement for wheeled vehicles (invalid carriages, etc). (4mph unless signposted otherwise. This applies to shared use cycle paths as well)

        The problem isn't "scooters on the footpath", it's the SPEED of the things and the fact that 99.9% of users won't stick to limits. Even 4mph may be too high if there are vulnerable people around

        1. jake Silver badge

          There might be a speed limit in your jurisdiction, but that doesn't necessarily apply everywhere else on this roughly spherical, dampish rock. And in some places they aren't allowed on the pavement (sidewalk to us Yanks) in the first place.

          It's not the SPEED of the things. It's the difference in speed between various modes of transportation (foot, scooter, skate(board)s, bicycle, auto) that is the problem. The only long-term viable answer is completely separate lanes for each speed one wishes to travel... and let's face it, that won't happen. Not enough square inches in most city centers to retrofit.

        2. iron Silver badge

          I hope that speed limit doesn't apply to pedestrians because I walk a lot faster than 4mph!

    6. macjules Silver badge

      Outside of the trial zones it is illegal to use an e-scooter in the UK either on the roads (£300 fine plus points on license) or on the pavement (£300 fine plus points on license plus prosecution). Therefore you do not need to charge the operator: just arrest the user.

    7. TeeCee Gold badge

      Funny one the other day. As I approached a junction, it transpired that an e-scooter rider on the pavement was planning to go straight across(!), left-to-right(!!), on the pavement(!!!), flat out(!!!!) and without looking(!!!!!). The sudden appearance[1] of the side of a vehicle dead in front of him caused an urgent rethink of his plans.

      Turns out these things lack anything resembling a braking system adequate for their speed too. I laughed long and hard when he went base over apex and faceplanted a drain in the gutter.

      [1] Icing on the cake, tall building right on the corner.

      1. macjules Silver badge

        Not laughing in the UK. They are being used increasingly by bag and/or phone snatchers. Some of these machines can whizz by at an astonishing speed: very much doubt the manufacturers bother with the UK legal limit of 12.5 mph.

        1. Tigra 07

          RE: macjules

          The legal limit is actually 15.5mph, exactly like electric bikes, except without the stability a bike offers. As pointed out by an above poster the amount of injuries a scooter rider clocks up compared to a cyclist is very very high.

          1. jake Silver badge

            Re: RE: macjules

            "As pointed out by an above poster the amount of injuries a scooter rider clocks up compared to a cyclist is very very high."

            As we say around here "Stupidity SHOULD hurt!".

            1. Tigra 07

              Re: RE: macjules

              It's the only way they'll learn...Unfortunately some might get killed, so that's regrettable.

              I would be interested to see what happens when we have a high profile car collision with one of these, since they're illegal on the roads. Where does that leave the injured party legally speaking?

  2. Flak
    Childcatcher

    Nine million bicycles in Beijing...

    https://www.theatlantic.com/photo/2018/03/bike-share-oversupply-in-china-huge-piles-of-abandoned-and-broken-bicycles/556268/

    ... and London may not be far behind.

  3. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Looking at you Bolt

    I swear to the almighty, if Bolt don't start fining/banning the twats that abandon their scooters in the road, across pavements and crossings, I'll help them out with a fucking TS 800 Stihl saw. It's not even the odd one, there's probably 25,000 pop. here and it's 4 or 5 a day I want to chop up.

  4. IGotOut Silver badge

    I think all transport needs looking at.

    Cars are very heavily regulated.

    I have no issue with cyclists or scooter riders If

    A) Helmets are compulsory

    B) Insurance is compulsory

    C) Registration is compulsory.

    D) Better enforcement of existing laws.

    If a cyclist or scooter hits my car, why should I pick up the bill?

    If a cyclist has an accident, why should the 3rd party, be it another cyclist, scooter or car driver, an insurance company or NHS pay millions because they felt a £20 helmet was to much hassle.

    I also believe, that town centres should be made much more friendly to pedestrians, scooter riders and cyclists, even considering putting in special routes, such cut-throughs and bridges for this very use.

    Canals and disused railways should be upgraded to allow their use by everyone.

    1. Julz Silver badge

      I

      Particularly like the image of scooters using the canals. Would breathing apparatus be mandatory?

    2. Fred Dibnah

      Re: I think all transport needs looking at.

      Apply item D to cars and you would save thousands of lives every year.

    3. Tigra 07
      FAIL

      Re: I think all transport needs looking at.

      A) Helmets are compulsory

      B) Insurance is compulsory

      C) Registration is compulsory.

      D) Better enforcement of existing laws.

      A) Helmet laws decrease the amount of cyclists in every region that adopts a mandatory helmet position - so the result is more cars on the road. They also don't have any solid evidence they do anything to protect in crashes, except minor cuts and scrapes, so again, it's a pointless requirement.

      B) A lot of cyclists do have insurance already, since home insurance actually covers them, then there's coverage thrown in by a lot of companies when you already cover your car with them. Still, this is another fallacious argument from you since cyclists aren't going to cause much damage in a crash, whereas a car...

      C) Registration...As what? With who? Do children on trikes need to be on this expensive database the Government will need to create? This idea has been flatly rejected by the Government before since it has no public benefit, and the cost would be large. It would require licencing and number plates on bikes to enforce, would massively decrease the amount of bikes on the road, and would indiscriminately lead to kids getting criminal records for riding their bike. No country does this, because frankly, it's stupid.

      D) Better enforcement of existing laws...No one would object to that. Lets hope the police prosecute every single car that passes a red light, since that's where i expect you're going. Speeding too, since this is a massive killer by car drivers.

      1. jake Silver badge

        Re: I think all transport needs looking at.

        "Lets hope the police prosecute every single car that passes a red light"

        And every single bicycle that blows through a stop sign or red light?

        "Speeding too"

        As I pass in front of the local schools there is a 25 MPH speed limit when children are about. I slow down to 25 ... and I'm routinely overtaken by bicyclists.

        Presumably you are advocating ticketing the above cyclists?

        1. Jim84

          Re: I think all transport needs looking at.

          You're in a small tank, they are on a bike.

          1. jake Silver badge

            Re: I think all transport needs looking at.

            Actually, I'm usually on a motorcycle.

            So you are advocating bicyclists breaking the law, Jim84?

            1. Tigra 07

              Re: I think all transport needs looking at.

              "So you are advocating bicyclists breaking the law, Jim84?"

              They're not breaking the law. The law states motor vehicles have a speed limit. Bicycles do not. You are entitled to not like that bit of information, but there it is, and it's law.

          2. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: I think all transport needs looking at.

            Spoken by someone who has never been hit by a bike. Lots of exposed parts guaranteed to hurt you while also carrying a lump of flesh weighing up to 100Kg travelling at more than 10Km/h.

            1. Tigra 07
              Thumb Down

              Re: I think all transport needs looking at.

              You sound like that idot Scottish Conservative MP who told the Scottish Government that a cyclist travelling at speed would be more dangerous than a car driver. He was ridiculed by an expert quickly.

              1. Val Halla

                Re: I think all transport needs looking at.

                Not an idiot, just a pedestrian who seems to have been ignored in all this. Pedestrians always come off worst no matter what hits them, even smart ones.

        2. Tigra 07
          FAIL

          Re: I think all transport needs looking at.

          ""Lets hope the police prosecute every single car that passes a red light"

          And every single bicycle that blows through a stop sign or red light?

          "Speeding too""

          Agreed. Believe it or not but not all cyclists run red lights. Not all cars do either.

          "As I pass in front of the local schools there is a 25 MPH speed limit when children are about. I slow down to 25 ... and I'm routinely overtaken by bicyclists."

          This may surprise you, but there's no speed limit for bicycles in law. Try going even 15mph up a hill and you'll see why. Have you also considered that some of those cycling past you could be going to that school?

        3. Already?

          Re: I think all transport needs looking at.

          "there is a 25 MPH speed limit when children are about. I slow down to 25 ... and I'm routinely overtaken by bicyclists."

          No you aren't. Kids on bikes don't routinely do 25mph, it takes a fair bit of effort on a nice road bike to wind up to 25mph, most school kids on bikes are on stubby bikes with low gears and fat tyres. You made it up, you're not being passed by the local cycling club out for a spin, it's school kids.

          Hint - put your phone on Sat Nav mode, strap it to your bike handlebars and give it your absolute trouser full of beans in the same place and conditions, then report back. You won't have been doing 25.

        4. ICL1900-G3 Bronze badge

          Re: I think all transport needs looking at.

          I don't believe you.

        5. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: I think all transport needs looking at.

          Enforcing speed limits on cyclists would require that bicycles have speedometers, which they don't. Luckily(?), the asphalt in the bike lane (or the part of street considered "for bikes") is usually in such shite condition that it is difficult to get much head of steam.

          1. Tigra 07
            Facepalm

            Re: I think all transport needs looking at.

            It would require: Speedometers fitted on bikes, batteries to power such things, number plates and licences for enforcement, Government database, like the DVLA, but for bikes, to store such details. Non-starter from the beginning since these requirements have already forced all the cyclists off the road and into cars.

    4. Already?

      Re: I think all transport needs looking at.

      Bingo, or very nearly. You missed Road Tax, but apart from that you squeezed in every facile argument that cycle-haters routinely toss in whenever they seen an opportunity. Berk.

  5. Pen-y-gors Silver badge

    Could be useful data

    Never mind the tracking of problem areas of dumped bikes, scooters etc. Potentially the data can be used to identify areas where there is clear demand for parking the things, but insufficient supply, and so allow the councils to repurpose some existing car parking bays into bike/scooter parking areas.

    1. Scott 53

      Re: Could be useful data

      That's an interesting, relevant and potentially useful thought. You're new here, right?

  6. Jim84

    GPS for every hire bike and more docks solves the dumped bike problem

    With GPS on every bike and many more bike docks you could just fine the people who dump these bikes where they please.

    Fining the company just creates what is known in economics as a "tradegy of the commons", the benefit of being lazy and not returning the bike/scooter to a dock accues to the user, but the cost of the fine is born by the company, and is passed on to all users via higher fees.

    Many more bike/scooter docks would also reduce the incentive to dump bikes as one would usually be handy. TfL could even tax ebike hire companies a small amount per bike trip to pay for expanded bike dock infastructure. The hire bike companies would probably do this themselves, but get tangled up in negotiating with councils on where to put the things, and might try to lock rival companies bikes out.

    It seems like this is where TfL is going, so good on them!

    It doesn't solve the problem of a lack of proper bike lanes in London, which is more down to Thatcher splitting the Greater London Council back in the 80s (although having a single London Mayor is starting to reverse and solve this problem slowly):

    https://youtu.be/gohSeOYheXg

  7. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Councils

    Leaving a bike or scooter on a pavement is littering. The council can remove it and charge for it's storage and return to the rightful owner. Councils could also charge parking fees for fixing bikes and scooters to lampposts and council property.

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