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Department for Transport to host meeting between dockless bike share operators and local authorities

Issues to be discussed will include drawing up national standards for the schemes as they expand throughout UK

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 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.

Simon has been news editor at since 2009, reporting on 10 editions and counting of pro cycling’s biggest races such as the Tour de France, stories on issues including infrastructure and campaigning, and interviewing some of the biggest names in cycling. A law and languages graduate, published translator and former retail analyst, his background has proved invaluable in reporting on issues as diverse as cycling-related court cases, anti-doping investigations, and the bike industry. He splits his time between London and Cambridge, and loves taking his miniature schnauzer Elodie on adventures in the basket of her Elephant Bike.

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