130 'yellow plague' bikes taken from the streets by London council


More than 100 new rental bikes have been confiscated after a local authority received a "flood of complaints" about them cluttering pavements and causing obstructions.

Wandsworth Council announced that it has taken 130 oBikes off the streets of south-west London, described their introduction to the capital last month as a "yellow bike plague".

Users can pick up and leave oBikes anywhere, without needing to find a docking station, leading to bikes being abandoned in busy areas such as town centres and outside transport hubs.

Clapham Junction - Britain's 10th busiest railway station with more than 88,000 passengers a day - has been particularly affected, with "masses" of oBikes blocking pavements which is causing problems for pedestrians, wheelchair users and parents with buggies, according to the council.

The lack of docking points is a significant difference from Transport for London's so-called Boris Bike scheme, whereby 11,500 bikes are left at dedicated parking points.

The council ordered the Singapore-based firm oBike to "re-think the way their business operates".

Jonathan Cook, the local authority's transport spokesman, said: "We all want to encourage cycling and other sustainable forms of transport but it is rather naive to simply dump thousands of bicycles on London's streets without any warning or discussion beforehand.

"We have received a flood of complaints about these bikes obstructing pavements, blocking parking spaces and even being chucked in people's front gardens.

"We are happy to support an initiative that gets more people using bikes, but without a drastic re-think, and proper consultation with all the capital's highway authorities, this particular scheme as it stands is not the answer."

It is one of a number of times oBike has been criticised for not working closely enough with local authorities.

Hackney Council and Hammersmith and Fulham Council have expressed concern about the lack of communication from the firm.

London's walking and cycling commissioner Will Norman said oBike "showed up in London without consulting anybody".

When oBike was launched in London last month, the company declared that it would "provide a convenient, environmentally-friendly mode of transportation".

The firm pledged to add hundreds of bikes in the capital each day throughout July and expand across the UK within a year.

Users locate, unlock and pay for the bikes using a smartphone app. They pay a £49 refundable deposit and 50p for each 30-minute ride.