E-bike gum!

Bath’s Cycle Mayor, Peter Dyson, has waded into the current issue of where and how the new Tier green-coloured, e-scooters and bikes are being located in the city.

I sent him an email l had received from Michael Noakes who writes:

“I was sent these pictures by a friend, John Morgan, who lives on Lansdown near Kingswood School.

He was walking home from the city recently and encountered these new hire bikes parked on Lansdown Road between Lansdown Mews and St Stephen’s Church.

It would seem to be an official parking place as John met and spoke to the chap who was servicing the bikes and who was equally amazed that anyone in authority would choose such a location!

As you can see from the pictures the already narrow footpath is obstructed by these bikes. The road is quite narrow too so vehicles are passing by very close to pedestrians. There would be no room for a child’s buggy without stepping into the road. 

As you have the ear of the Council I wondered if you could publicise this folly or raise it with your contacts in B&NES as they don’t respond to ordinary constituents…

….I still await any sort of reply to my email to the Newbridge councillors regarding the state of the Locksbrook Cemetery wall and weeds in Combe Park in spite of Cllr Ball’s promise in your interview with him!”

More images have arrived from Malcolm Baldwin who writes:

“A green light for pedestrian congestion!

We all recognise and support the importance to our city of well managed hospitality facilities but this image of the north side of George Street looks as if a serious sense-check rather than a Raincheck is required by appropriate Council officers!

Some thoughts:

● If we want to encourage, as a Council policy, more walking as a healthier option to the motor vehicle, shouldn’t we be ensuring a better balance between hospitality businesses’ outside seating facilities, other street ‘furniture’ and pedestrians ………..ensuring that locals, visitors and less mobile pedestrians can truely enjoy a benign and pleasant ‘pavement’ culture?

● Is it not likely to be counter-intuitive for some hospitality businesses to decide to so encroach upon our pavements that pedestrian footfall, family groups, dog walkers, the less mobile find it extremely difficult to manoeuvre past their street furniture? Some pedestrians, might even decide to avoid such obviously congested thoroughfares altogether ……… is that, one wonders, good for business?

● Perhaps, we should fairly ask two questions of appropriate Council officers: 

In the granting of street furniture licenses are they fully aware of the nature of the immediate area to which they are granting licences in order to ensure that balance for safe and well-managed pedestrian foot-fall is maintained?

How well are street furniture licences already granted then monitored to ensure that ‘pavement-creep,’ perhaps by less scrupulous hospitality businesses, is prevented?

The north side of George Street is an important and vibrant hospitality ‘hub’ for locals and visitors alike but let’s not forget, with its well used and single pedestrian crossing-point, it needs as an important pavement area to be effectively managed and maintained on behalf of all its users.

Time perhaps to draw a ‘line in the sand’ or at least on the pavement to prevent the negative impact, for both pedestrians and neighbouring hospitality businesses, of  ‘pavement creep’.”

Bath’s Cycle Mayor, Peter Dyson.

Peter Dyson has obviously thought long and hard about this issue and has published a list of actions he would like to see taken to deal with the problem.

Maybe B&NES and Tier and the West of England Mayor’s office should read what he has sent me below.

Bicycle Mayor: Recommended actions to address non-compliant Tier e-bike parking in Bath

  1. Monitor and evaluate the Issue. These photos are one of dozens of examples I’ve seen shared this week. I would recommend the authorities request that Tier conduct an audit of the e-bike situation (or commission officials to conduct their own audit). How many sites are compliant with expectations: within capacity and/or with e-bikes upright and parked well?

This would reduce the gap between perception and reality, as it’s easy to think all the parking is bad (or good) and without measurement we won’t otherwise know whether the situation does improve over time (as a result of our interventions or naturally as behaviour might improve)

  1. The causes of non-compliant parking – the e-bike users appear to be the primary cause of non-compliant parking, but there will be other influencers. It’s plausible that the terrain, the wind and the foot-stand contribute to untidy parking. In extreme situations, anti-social pedestrians might be inclined to push the e-bikes over (e.g. a Friday night).

Can we better understand why e-bikes are being incorrectly parked?

  1. Human issue – as above, but evaluating the extent of the road-user and pedestrian disbenefits. How can we understand who is negatively influenced and how? 

For wheel-chair users, people with limited mobility and parents/carers with children, this might render the pavement completely unusable (would this be a statutory duty for the council to uphold?). For others, it presents a safety problem and additional barrier to walking if they are forced to step into the road to pass. 

I could imagine observational studies monitoring behaviour around sites, accompanied by a call for input by residents (a post-implementation consultation) 

  1. Solutions to the parking issue
  1. Changing/removing locations – once introduced and evaluated, the first step would be to reallocate parking bays that are proving most troublesome (accepting this will shift parking to a neighbouring location). Perhaps the one photographed by Mr. Noakes is a candidate here, on the basis of the pavement being narrow at that point.
  2. Improving locations – I could imagine some light infrastructure could improve the alignment and stability of e-bikes, perhaps a rack (like a Sheffield Rack) or something smaller like rear wheel holders bolted into the pavement. If the scheme is to last for 5years+ then I’d expect this would be a wise investment.
  3. Shifting to ‘on-street parking’ – the clearest way to address the pedestrian disbenefits would be to reallocate on-street parking bays to become e-bike parking bays. From an equity and mode-shift perspective, there are thousands of on-street vehicle parking bays in Bath, of which perhaps only 30 would be needed as e-bike parking spaces (approximately 5-10 bikes per bay). As above, these could have bike alignment devices, since it’s clear the orange footstands are not really very stable.

This would have benefits to e-bike users not having to ever mount the footway.

This would have benefits to pedestrians are e-bikes stay off the pavement

This would be similar to bike hangars and the London ridershare scheme that uses a docked system on a mix of road space and space off the main pavement.

I can also point the council to a DofT published document made available to local authorities on ‘Encouraging compliant e-scooter parking’. It contains a range of measures to enable and encourage users to parking correctly.

A copy could be requested from the DofT Micromobility team.”

Plenty to think about there! Thanks Michael and Peter for your input.


  1. The specific parking zone mentioned in the article is already removed. It was evidently a silly place for a parking zone, and I requested its removal as soon as I saw it.
    I’m a firm supporter of the eScooters, and now eBikes – I think they’re an important addition to our transport options – but unfortunately the handover between Voi and Tier has been badly handled by WECA. The parking location data were not transferred from Voi to Tier, and there was no consultation with ward councillors about parking locations before Tier went live, so all the learning about sensible parking locations gained over the last 2 years was ignored. (There are some perfectly sensible parking locations that were being used by Voi which have not been used by Tier as well as new, badly placed, parking zones.) This is poor management from WECA, but my hope is that Tier will respond quickly to the information ward councillors and others provide so we can quickly sort it out.
    Pete Dyson’s points are all well made, and I gather we’re already looking at installing some physical racks, and some painted zones indicate the correct parking zone.

    As I say, overall I think the addition of eBike is a really good thing, and hopefully we can get over the teething problems caused by the transition from Voi to Tier.

  2. Thanks for sharing a speedy review of what is becoming an even greater problem in our city, eLitter.
    “..Can we better understand why e-bikes are being incorrectly parked?..”. I think we can keep the answer to the ‘understanding’ bit simple – as with every commodity our ‘Citizens of Convenience’ use, most will toss to one side after use. Be it food wrappings, old tyres, garden rubbish, it is more convenient for them to let others clear up their mess.
    It is that awful human trait of ‘lack of consideration for others'(has that phrase dropped out of usage in this modern age?) that’s the problem, not the machinery. Our Council won’t change human nature, so their best policy would be to deprive those selfish citizens of the means of being inconsiderate – stop the proliferation of eScooters and eBikes. Cllr Rigby told me the ‘trial’ has been extended for another 2 years. Let’s be honest, eh, it was never a ‘trial’, it was a fait accompli.

  3. I looked out of my window one dark night. There was enough light under Victoria Bridge to see an elderly gentleman simply pick up one of the Voi scooters and chuck it over the railings into the river. He went on his merry way without pause. I presume it is still there if they want it back!

  4. One wonders whether anything at all was learned from the Voi experience. If anything the situation with Tier is a lot worse. Didn’t B&NES specify the requirements clearly?
    The mitigating actions from the cycle mayor could take months or years to implement. Action is needed in days to prevent accidents, pavement restrictions to walkers and wheelchair users.

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