A new report from the London Assembly’s transport committee says that dockless bike-sharing schemes should be subject to tougher regulation.
Published today, the report, called Future Transport: How is London responding to technological innovation?, addresses emerging trends in transport such as personal drones, droids and autonomous vehicles.
It warns that that the capital’s transport planners are failing to keep pace with innovations in transport, citing the city’s lack of preparedness for the launch of Uber as well as the introduction of dockless bike-sharing schemes.
While Transport for London (TfL) introduced a code of practise for dockless bike-share operators last year, the committee says there should be a stricter licensing regime.
Currently, operators in London include China’s Ofo, which is active in Islington and neighbouring Hackney, and Singapore-based Mobike, which also operates in Islington as well as in Ealing.
In each case, the operators have partnered with the boroughs concerned, unlike another Chinese business, oBike, whose bikes were impounded by Wandsworth Council when they appeared without warning on the borough’s streets last year.
The committee says that considerations should be given to allowing a limited number of such schemes to operate across London as a whole, including in Outer London.
Among the report’s recommendations were that “TfL and boroughs should consider whether to introduce a London-wide licensing regime for dockless cycle hire.
“This could involve a small number of operators being granted permission to operate across London. Licensing requirements could specify commitments to provide services in outer London boroughs, and adherence to the terms of TfL’s code of practice for operators.
“We ask the Mayor and TfL to confirm by the end of May 2018 that discussions on this proposal are underway.”
Other recommendations of the report highlighted the need to:
Develop the principles of a new regulatory regime for demand-responsive bus services
Ensure data produced by apps powered by underlying TfL data is shared with TfL
Consider an integrated control system for ground-based autonomous vehicles and airborne drones.
The committee’s chair, Keith Prince, said: “Autonomous vehicles could make roads safer.
“Dockless bikes could spread the benefits of cycling to the whole city and demand-responsive buses could give people a public transport service tailored to their needs.
“The opportunity to improve mobility for millions of Londoners is here but it will require proper planning, transparency and accountability, as well as co-operation with government, boroughs and development companies,” he continued.
“TfL have been caught napping on the technology front and it’s time to wake up. Uber, then oBike are two examples of a poorly prepared regulator which seems to be making it up as they go along.
“Go back to 2014,” he added. “In its Future Proof report, this committee warned that ‘TfL needs to be prepared for the inevitable consequences of a transport environment in which technology is evolving faster than the legislation that is needed to govern its use.’
“It’s clear that warning was ignored – let’s hope this warning won’t be.”
Simon has been news editor at road.cc 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.