The first borough to allow rival “dockless” bike firms to compete for riders was today urged to do more to improve road safety.
Islington council has given permission for Mobike to launch 200 of its orange-wheeled bikes, only weeks after allowing Ofo, which has yellow bikes, to expand from Hackney.
Campaigners welcomed the greater availability of bikes in a borough where Transport for London’s Boris bikes cannot be hired further north than Angel. But they said the Labour-run council should do more to address concerns about a lack of safe cycling routes.
In August, college caretaker Ardian Zagani became the sixth of 10 cyclists to die on London’s roads this year in a collision with a van in Camden Road.
This month Victoria Lebrec, 27, who lost a leg and was almost killed by a left-turning lorry in Clerkenwell Road in 2014, told a Stop Killing Cyclists “die-in” outside Islington town hall that delays in improving safety were “insulting”.
Cycle Islington wrote to the council about the “limited progress on improving access to cycling” and creating safe routes. The group told the Standard: “The main reason people are not cycling is because of a lack of safe routes.
“We focus most of our campaigns on infrastructure — getting protected bike routes and reducing through-traffic on quiet roads. There needs to be a positive vision. There seems to be a fear of making meaningful change to street layout to improve walking and cycling over cars, parking and through-traffic.”
Mobike was already operating 200 bikes in Ealing. Ofo has 750 bikes in Hackney, Islington and the City. The firms have gone head-to-head in Oxford, despite industry attempts to prevent rivals moving into each other’s areas.
Whereas Boris bikes must be returned to docking stations after use, dockless bikes can be left anywhere, although users are encouraged to leave them in their designated borough. Cyclists use an app to find the bikes, which have GPS technology, and release an electronic lock on the back wheel. Both Mobike and Ofo cost 50p to hire for 30 minutes. Mobike requires a £29 deposit to join the scheme. Ofo does not charge one.
Mobike general manager Steve Pyer said it had been attracted by Islington’s “strong cycling culture” and described the council as “forward-thinking”.
Claudia Webbe, Islington’s executive member for transport, said: “We have been working hard for many years to make the borough a safer and more attractive place to cycle.”
Joseph Seal-Driver, general manager for Ofo, said: “We welcome competition in Islington, just as we did in Oxford.”