E-bike charter

The growth of electric bikes (e-bike) usage with a lack of regulation and consistency remains a major concern to Sight Loss Councils and Thomas Pocklington Trust. This is because e-bikes can cause street safety concerns for blind and partially sighted (BPS) people. For example, abandoned or poorly parked bikes can create a trip hazard, leading to injury or damage to mobility aids.

To tackle this, we have been working with operators, local councils and governing bodies to advocate for the safe use of e-bikes. Our aim is to ensure that BPS people can navigate our streets safely and independently alongside e-bike users. Examples of this work include campaigns with operators Lime and TIER to promote the importance of parking etiquette and the impact of poor parking. We have also produced in-app messaging in partnership with Lime for all of Lime’s registered users.

Haren Thillainathan, South West London SLC member, said:

Headshot of London SLC member, Haren Thillainathan. He standing outside under a tree in the sunshine. He is wearing a red and navy t-shirt.“It is imperative that the rapid roll out of e-bikes does not increase risk on our streets, and I believe the adoption of the Sight Loss Council e-bike charter will prevent this. It is essential that blind and partially sighted people can walk on safe and accessible streets. Not being able to travel independently and with confidence affects blind and partially sighted people’s ability to participate in work and leisure. It also has a disproportionate impact on people’s welfare.”

E-bike charter

To underpin this work, we have now also created an ‘E-bike Charter: six to fix’ for operators, local authorities and governing bodies. This calls for organisations to commit to six key principles which will ensure the safety of BPS pedestrians.

The key principles include asks to:

  1. provide parking bays and racks where users should park e-bikes. These should usually be on the carriageway to avoid obstructing pedestrians. By exception, parking may be on the pavement but must be safe and segregated. Where parking is not provided nearby, users should park e-bikes safely and securely.
  2. put in place a Reporting and Monitoring framework of e-bike providers’ performance and make non-commercially sensitive results publicly available. This should include robust targets for speedy retrieval of abandoned or poorly parked e-bikes, or those not parked in designated bays.
  3. provide one universally accessible way BPS people and other digitally excluded residents can report e-bike incidents.
  4. commit to ensuring reasonable maximum weight and speed restrictions of rental e-bikes. Work towards implementing common restrictions as quickly as possible.
  5. work towards ensuring all rental e-bikes are fitted with some form of audible alert equipment. For example, a horn or bell  that can be operated by riders to warn pedestrians.
  6. work together to minimise incidents of rental e-bikes used in pavement riding, including through trialling available technology and advocating for robust police enforcement.

SLCs across England are in conversations with multiple organisations to adopt our Charter and commit to working together to address safety concerns. Our aim is to ensure that the streets are safe for all, and that blind and partially sighted people can travel with confidence.

The development of this e-charter was led by London Sight Loss Councils.

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