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City of London police seize five illegal 'souped-up' e-bikes and scooters every week

Illegal e-bikes have been seen going nearly double the speed limit of legal ones (Sarah Gayton)
Illegal e-bikes have been seen going nearly double the speed limit of legal ones (Sarah Gayton)

Five souped-up e-bikes and e-scooters are taken off the streets of the City every week, it has been revealed.

These bikes are essentially turned into motorbikes, with a motor greater than 250 watts and a throttle which means the rider no longer has to pedal to get any power assistance.

They have clocked doing nearly double the speed limit for legal speed bikes, which is 15.5mph with a motor designed to cut out when the maximum speed is hit.

Since July last year, 140 illegal e-bikes and e-scooters have been seized by the City of London Police’s cycle team.

The team has been working on a targeted operation to combat phone snatching, a crime which e-bikes are often used to carry out.

The project has seen a 40 per cent reduction in the number of phones stolen in this way.

From July 2023 until the end of the year, there were 360 phone snatching offences, compared to 542 for the same period in 2022.

Chair of the City of London Police Authority Board, James Thomson, said: “We fully support the force’s crackdown on illegal e-bikes which are being used to commit a range of crimes including drug dealing and phone snatching.

“Officers have been very proactive and innovative in their safety initiatives, keeping the Square Mile one of the safest business districts in the world.

“I’m delighted that the Cycle Response Unit is now permanent, following a successful trial. They provide a highly visible, effective, and mobile presence in the City, and feedback from residents and workers has been overwhelmingly positive."

It comes with growing concerns about the thousands of dockless bikes that have flooded onto the capital’s streets.

Westminster has drawn up a voluntary agreement with Lime, Forest and Tier that requires e-bike and e-scooter users to park in designated bays.

But it relies on the firms to discipline their customers if parking rules are breached. Many pedestrians regard the battery-powered bikes, which can be found parked or fallen on pavements across central London, as a menace.

Lime, which reportedly has more than 12,000 bikes in London, is thought to have about 80,000 users a week in the West End, making it the firm’s busiest area globally.

A DfT spokesperson said: “There is already legislation in place to regulate e-bikes, which is a matter for police to enforce. In addition, local authorities already have powers to remove e-cycles from pavements where they are causing an obstruction and are responsible for working with rental operators to keep pavements clear where possible.”