The Department for Transport (DfT) will next month host a meeting between dockless bike share scheme operators and local authorities.
The news was given in a written parliamentary answer by transport minister Jesse Norman to Brigg and Goole MP Andrew Percy regarding meetings “to discuss the introduction of a consistent national standard for bike-share schemes.”
Norman said: "Department for Transport officials have met representatives from most of the major dockless bike-share companies operating in the UK, as well as from some local authorities and boroughs where they are trading.
"The question of a possible national standard has been raised at several of these meetings. The Department is also inviting various stakeholders to a workshop in January where this matter will be discussed further."
London, where China’s Ofo and Mobike as well as the Singapore-based Obike launched this year in certain boroughs, has already drawn up a code of practice for dockless bike hire scheme operators, which was published in October.
With those businesses, as well as start-ups such as Pony Bikes, which is active in Oxford – as are Ofo and Mobike – expanding into an increasing number of cities nationwide, it has been acknowledged within the industry that a national standard is needed, reports BikeBiz.
Speaking to the Financial Times, Joseph Seal-Driver, general manager of Ofo UK, said: “It’s a bit of a grey area in the UK.
“There’s no straight primary legislation from the government that says local authorities can regulate this type of bike-sharing service.”
As many as 100 dockless bike hire businesses were set up in China in the past couple of years as entrepreneurs tried to grab aa slice of the market in a feverish wave of activity that the South China Morning Post likens to the dot.com bubble.
Many of those companies have fallen by the wayside and according to the newspaper only three – Ofo, Mobike and Hellobike – are seen as having sufficient size and resources to survive in the long term.
Among the casualties are Bluegogo, which was once the third largest operator in China but which went out of business earlier this month, leaving users out of pocket as they lost the money they had paid as a deposit to use the scheme.
This year has seen several operators – notably, Ofo and Mobike – start to expand internationally and their bikes are fast becoming a familiar sight in cities around the world.
Born in Scotland, Simon moved to London aged seven and now lives in the Oxfordshire Cotswolds with his miniature schnauzer, Elodie. He fell in love with cycling one Saturday morning in 1994 while living in Italy when Milan-San Remo went past his front door. A daily cycle commuter in London back before riding to work started to boom, he's been news editor at road.cc since 2009. Handily for work, he speaks French and Italian. He doesn't get to ride his Colnago as often as he'd like, and freely admits he's much more adept at cooking than fettling with bikes.