You may have already seen them dotted around the borough, in bike parking areas, left randomly on pavements or just propped up forlornly against a wall. You might even have seen people riding them. Whatever it is, you’re now going to see a lot more of them. We are, of course talking about dockless hire bikes and El Brute’s recent announcement that they are going to authorise a formal trial.

ofo dockless bike – central London

If you don’t know what we’re banging on about then you must be familiar with Santander Cycles aka ‘Boris Bikes’ which can easily be hired across large parts of inner London.  Whilst those bikes need to be hired from fixed docking stations, dockless bikes rely on a smartphone app and GPS to enable users to locate and hire nearby bikes. The idea is that when you’re done you leave the bike in a sensible place so the next person can find it and use it. FYI – Blocking the road or the pavement are not sensible places. Nor is the river.

LBRuT say that the trial will initially focus around the hubs of Twickenham and Richmond stations and that the service provider (currently unnamed) will be obliged to redistribute bikes as required. Because they don’t use docking stations that’s why you may already have seen some lurking around Twickenham, such as the orange mobikes which operate in neighbouring Hounslow.

Mobikes – operating in Hounslow & other boroughs (pic: mobike website)

So, dockless bikes? A great way to promote easy cycling and get people moving without adding to congestion? Or an increase in street clutter albeit of the mobile variety? But, OMG, what are we going to do if it’s actually both? What the hell are we going to do then?


UPDATE: LBRuT have announced that the scheme will be provided by Ofo with 200 bikes being rolled out in the near future.  Punters will be able to hire a bike for 50p per half hour, with a maximum daily cap of £5.  LBRuT’s new press release is here.


Example dockless hire companies:


P.S. In other bikey news, there’s now a Brompton bike locker on London Road near Regal House for all your essential folding bike secure storage requirements.