Yellow bike plague being tackled on the streets of Wandsworth

Published: 4 August 2017

The company that’s flooded London with a rash of yellow rental bikes without any warning might be scratching their heads and asking themselves why so many have vanished from the streets of Wandsworth.

The answer is that dozens have been impounded by the council for cluttering pavements and causing obstructions.

Since they first started appearing last month, the council has confiscated 130 of the yellow oBIKES for blocking pavements.

The distinctive grey and yellow bicycles have arrived as a direct competitor to the Mayor’s cycle hire scheme – with the difference being that oBIKES don’t use docking stations. Instead users simply leave them wherever they please with other hirers tracking them down via an app.

But this means that town centres shopping areas, the pavements outside tube and rail stations and other busy locations have seen an influx of abandoned bikes.

Masses have been found outside Clapham Junction station where they have blocked pavements and caused problems for pedestrians but also especially for people in wheelchairs and parents with buggies.

The council has been busy clearing these obstructions and have told the company behind the scheme that they need to re-think the way their business operates.

Transport spokesman Jonathan Cook said: “We all want to encourage cycling and other sustainable forms of transport but it is rather naïve to simply dump thousands of bicycles on London’s streets without any warning or discussion beforehand.

“We have received a flood of complaints about these bikes obstructing pavements, blocking parking spaces and even being chucked in people’s front gardens.

“We are happy to support an initiative that gets more people using bikes, but without a drastic re-think, and proper consultation with all the capital’s highway authorities this particular scheme, as it stands, is not the answer.”

• Wandsworth is becoming the cycling capital of London after scoring the biggest increase in pedal power in the whole of England, according to figures recently published by the Department for Transport (DfT).

The proportion of local people who cycle at least once a month went from 18.2 per cent in 2013/14, to 30.7 per cent in 2014/15 - a rise of 12.5 percentage points.

Only two other parts of London made it into the top ten for year-on-year increases – City of London with a 9.8 per cent rise and Croydon with an increase of 5.9 per cent.

Wandsworth’s sharp rise brings its overall cycling rate up to fifth in the country, behind the university towns of Cambridge (58), Oxford (43.2) and York (34.2), as well as neighbouring Richmond (33.1).

According to the DfT report, the proportion of regular cyclists in Wandsworth is now double the average for England which stands at 14.7 per cent.

The country-wide statistics also show Wandsworth residents are keen walkers, with the percentage of adults walking at least five times a week standing at 64.2 per cent, the ninth highest in England.

For more information on how Wandsworth is promoting safe two-wheeled transport read the council’s cycling strategy online.