Victory in fight against 'lock it and lose it' policy for London

By BikeRadar | Sunday, March 15, 2009 8.00am

Campaigners have won their fight against a policy which would have allowed London councils to remove bikes locked to railings or lampposts.

Members of the London Cycling Campaign (LCC) feared the legislation would have made bike parking a ‘lock it and lose it’ lottery and undermined the growth of cycling in the capital.

Council contractors would have been able to remove without notice any bicycles not locked to official stands, even if they were not an obstruction or abandoned. But the law was rejected by a committee of peers in the House of Lords.

Evidence from the LCC played a crucial role in the peers' deliberations. Committee members listened to the case for and against the legislation, and concluded that the relevant clauses should ‘not proceed’.

If the policy had been approved, council officers would have been able to forcibly remove bikes immediately “for good or safe management of the highway” if they could not identify an owner. 

Peers were told the rejected law could have been applied to thousands of bikes that were not attached to bike stands. Unless owners followed a formal procedure for reclaiming their bikes, their cycles would have been disposed of without compensation.

The LCC’s counsel, Ralph Smyth, told the committee: "Because of the lack of clarity as to where you could or could not park your bicycle, this aspect of the Bill would have a chilling effect on people’s desire to cycle. One of the peers asked if cyclists would have to carry a tape measure to make sure they were parking in a street of the required width."

The London Local Authorities and Transport for London (No. 2) Bill was proposed by the London Councils and Transport for London.

Under the proposed law, officers would have been required to leave a notice in place of the bike they had removed and owners would have had just 14 days to reclaim them. If they failed to do so, councils would have been able to dispose of the bike and charge the owner for the cost of disposal.

Local councils already have powers to remove bicycles, but only if they are an obstruction or abandoned. 

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LCC’s chief executive Koy Thomson said: “After a long campaign we're delighted that committee members decided to throw out legislation that could have been a serious deterrent to cycling.

“Cycle stands in London are overflowing with bikes, even in the winter. We need more bike stands, not new laws making parking more difficult.”

LCC members wrote to London Mayor Boris Johnson and to London Assembly representatives last year protesting against the proposed legislation. 

The House of Lords committee also rejected legislation that would have allowed councils to set different penalties on different streets for cycling on the pavement. Peers said the legislation would not solve London's traffic problems.

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