Transport for London data pilot: We want to keep tabs on dockless bikes and e-bikes

Peddling hard to swerve a pavement pile-up of leased 'mobile assets causing obstructions in the public realm'

Transport for London is launching a pilot data project to help it keep track of dockless rental bikes and e-bikes in the UK capital, the aim being to avoid a pile-up of two wheelers dumped on the pavement.

Initially slated for 18 months, the project is designed to create a “system capable of ingesting data from micro mobility operators in London to provide TfL and participating London boroughs with near real-time visibility of activity across London and informative analytics,” according to a tender notice.

The system will support "network performance optimisation and long-term transport planning decisions in London,” the document added.

“TfL and boroughs need a dynamic view of how new modes of transport such as dockless rental bikes and e-bikes could help to effectively deliver the Mayor’s Transport Strategy goals and avoid the potential dis-benefits of thousands of mobile assets moving around London and causing obstructions in the public realm.”

French app company Bluecarsharing SAS has won the contract for the initial 18-month pilot, and is expected to support standards such as mobility data specification or General Bikeshare Feed Specification.

The project is initially aimed at rental e-bikes and dockless rental push-bikes, although the tender notice talks about micro-mobility, so could potentially include e-scooters, should the UK ever legislate to allow their use on the road.

Dockless rental bike services from companies such as Mobike have mushroomed around the capital and major UK cities, causing concern about the nuisance as bikes are parked up after use.

TfL said getting more data together from bike providers and their customers might help avoid problems. “TfL and London boroughs have limited information on trips made by dockless cycles, and limited influence on dockless rental companies despite operators being reliant on public infrastructure,” the tender said.

Currently the TfL code of conduct for dockless bikes says they are “a way to make cycling more accessible and will complement London’s existing public transport network”.

Should a Highway Authority or emergency services personnel be forced to move a bike from the street, the operator of those dumped dockless cycles can be charged up to £235. ®

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