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London council's 'abandoned Obike' removal boast backfires

Wandsworth Council has removed scores of dockless Obikes for obstructing pavements...but goes quiet on questions over pavement parking by drivers

When Wandsworth Council boasted about seizing scores of new dockless Obikes this week for obstructing pavements, it was perhaps not expecting the response it received. 

The South London council released a statement yesterday, with a photo of dozens of impounded Obikes saying 130 of the bikes, introduced to the city’s streets last month by a private company, have been impounded for ‘cluttering pavements and causing obstructions’.

However,  when asked by Twitter what the Council is doing about pavement parking by motor vehicle drivers, and claims the council is unfairly targeting cycling while ignoring the antisocial actions of drivers, it has so far failed to respond.

Dockless bike-share scheme oBike lands in London

The council statement read: “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 statement, on an article titled "Yellow bike plague being tackled on the streets of Wandsworth" said users “simply leave them wherever they please”, adding the bikes “blocked pavements and caused problems for pedestrians but also especially for people in wheelchairs and parents with buggies.”

However, some people have pointed out in the interest of fairness the council should also be tackling the motor vehicle drivers who do the same thing.

Neil Pearce added: "Can @Wandbc now impound all the large cars that are too big for their drives and obstruct the pavement?"

Stephan Matthiesen said: "Are you also so quick impounding cars that park on double yellow lines, pavements etc.?"

Others’ suggestions, like this one, were more specific.

Although the council describes the bikes as a "direct competitor to the Mayor's cycle hire system", some point out there is a gap in the network within the borough.

Wandsworth Council boasts being the fifth highest borough in the country for people who cycle at least once a month - a frequency it defines as cycling "regularly". Some residents would like to see the council do more to encourage two-wheeled transport, however.

Samuel Shoesmith called the move "ridiculous". He said: "Sort out cars blocking pavements instead. People of Wandsworth were using this scheme enormously".  He suggested the council should have reached out to Obike.

Brixton Hatter added: "Nasty. You claim to be 'the cycling capital of London' but you can't even provide enough bike parking. Get rid of some car parking." has contacted Wandsworth Council for a response. 

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