Lords throw out London's 'Lock it and lose it' law

London Cycling Campaign claims victory in cycle parking battle

by Tony Farrelly   March 12, 2009  

Locked bike

A proposed law which would have allowed council contractors to remove without notice bikes chained to railing, whether they were causing an obstruction or not has been thrown out by a committee of the House of Lords after sustained opposition from the London Cycling Campaign (LCC) which launched the legal challenge to it.

Committee members listened to the case for and against the legislation and concluded that the relevant clauses should ‘not proceed’.

The proposal was part of a package of measures proposed by Transport for London and the London Councils and backed by the Mayor's office. As part of it's opposition to the proposed law change the LCC pointed out that that it would be a severe dis-incentive to cycling in London at a time when Transport for London and the Mayor's office were actively encouraging more people to get on their bikes.

Speaking for the LCC before the Lords' committee, the organisation’s counsel Ralph Smyth said, "Because of the lack of clarity as to where you could or could not park your bicycle, this aspect of the Bill would have a chilling effect on people’s desire to cycle. One of the peers asked if cyclists would have to carry a tape measure to make sure they were parking in a street of the required width.

Peers were told that local councils already have powers to remove bicycles that are an obstruction or which are abandoned. The rejected law could have been applied to thousands of bikes that were not attached to bike stands. 

LCC’s chief executive Koy Thomson said, “After a long campaign we're delighted that committee members decided to throw out legislation that could have been a serious deterrent to cycling.”

“Cycle stands in London are overflowing with bikes, even in the winter. We need more bike stands, not new laws making parking more difficult.”

Many LCC members wrote to the Mayor and to London Assembly representatives last year protesting against the proposed legislation.  Intense work by LCC volunteers with legal expertise over recent months enabled the House of Lords committee to base its judgment on a range of evidence.

The House of Lords committee also rejected legislation that would have allowed councils to set different penalties on different streets for footway cycling. Peers said there were problems with the traffic environment in London, but that the proposed legislation would not solve them.

One peer suggested that the legislation could have allowed councils to create 16 different penalties. The UK Government, as well as LCC, opposed the proposed legislation.

Using the proposed London Local Authorities and Transport for London (No. 2) Bill London councils would have used the section on “Items deposited on the highway” to remove bicycles forcibly “for good or safe management of the highway” if they cannot identify an owner. Unless a removed bike's owner correctly followed a formal procedure for reclaiming their bike the council could dispose of it without compensation. Contractors removing bikes would have had to leave a noice in the bike's place informing the owner of what had happened to it but the LCC argued that these notices could easily be removed or subject to vanalism. 

To find out more about the London Cycling Campaign visit their website www.lcc.org.uk