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One-year-old boy loses his right index finger after it got trapped in the chain of an abandoned Tier e-bike – as his father calls for tougher rules on where rentals can be dumped
- Toddler Leopoldo’s finger was crushed by the chain of the bike left in the street
- READ MORE: Furious homeowner says e-bikes block parking spaces at his home
The father of a toddler who lost his finger after getting it caught in the chain of a rental electric bike in London has called on Sadiq Khan to do more to regulate the ‘menace’ of bicycles scattered on the pavements of the capital.
Ignacio, a 33-year-old father of two, said his one-year-old son Leopoldo’s finger was snatched by the chain of a Tier dockless e-bike in Westminster’s New Bond Street.
Dockless cycles are unlocked via an app and do not need to be parked at a docking station when no longer needed – meaning they are regularly seen abandoned on London’s roads.
The youngster’s father has urged the Mayor of London to act on regulating the ‘careless’ firms behind the bikes – such as Tier, Forest and Lime – so their vehicles pose less of a danger to young children and the wider public.
But the Mayor’s office does not have the power to regulate rental bikes and says it is pushing the Government to give it more controls to improve safety.
An abandoned Tier bike lying on the pavement on Borough High Street, Borough in central London
Lime e-bikes sitting on a pavement in London earlier this year. Some people are more considerate parking them than others
A Dott e-bike sits abandoned on the pavement in London’s Regent Street. Calls have been made for the management of the hire bikes to be regulated
READ MORE: Selfish cyclists who abandon e-bikes in Central London set to be fined £20 under new council plans
Speaking to the Telegraph, Ignacio said Leopoldo had been allowed out of his pram for a matter of moments in August when he accidentally put pressure on the pushbike’s pedal, crushing his finger in the belt and almost completely severing it.
His terrified mother, who had been taking the youngster and his sister to meet their father after work, rushed him to hospital to have the finger reattached.
Doctors concluded after a number of checkups that the finger could not be saved and had the majority of it amputated.
Ignacio – who did not give his second name – believes that if the bicycles were required to be parked in designated spaces, his son would never have lost his finger.
He said: ‘We have contacted the Mayor of London and informed him of the awful event and we hope he tackles the current situation of these bikes on the pavements, which are causing a menace to Londoners.
‘We want action, so nobody goes through what we have had to.’
Tier is among a number of companies permitted to operate ‘dockless’ e-bikes in the city, alongside firms such as Forest and Lime, which is part-owned by ridesharing business Uber.
Unlike London’s fleet of Santander Cycles (so-called ‘Boris bikes’) and bicycle hire schemes in other cities like Manchester and Glasgow, the bikes do not have to be parked at a dedicated docking station to end the rental.
Instead, users lock and unlock the bike using an app on their phone – meaning they can be ditched just about anywhere.
Ignacio added: ‘Due to the carelessness of Tier, his life will be changed forever, physically and emotionally.’
The e-bike rental sector is largely unregulated. Individual councils enter into agreements with dockless bicycle companies, allowing them to operate in their local area with seeming impunity.
Unlike rental e-scooters – many of which are offered up by the same companies renting out bikes – there is no national legislation governing their use.
As a result, abandoned e-bikes are a common sight across London boroughs – clogging up pavements and causing problems for pedestrians, particularly those with mobility issues or disabilities.
Nickie Aiken, Conservative MP for the Cities of London and Westminster, said she receives regular emails from residents about rental bikes littering pavements.
She said: ‘I had a 16-year-old visually impaired boy write to me last week and tell me how (it) is one of the biggest dangers and really affects his…freedom.
‘They are accidents waiting to happen, and clearly we have now had a very serious accident.’
A row of Lime e-bikes in Westminster. The council there says it is planning to bring in dedicated parking for dockless e-bikes
Santander Cycles (‘Boris bikes’) in London. Unlike the dockless e-bikes, they have to be returned to a docking station to end the rental
Ignacio said he has written to Sadiq Khan calling on him to take action on dockless e-bikes
Some authorities have vowed to take action. They include Westminster Council – where Ignacio’s son lost his finger – which says it has struck a deal with Tier and other operators to invest in parking bays for their bicycles around Central London.
It said earlier this year that it would draw up plans to fine inconsiderate users of the pushbikes £20 if they fail to park it in designated areas – and continue charging them for the rental until they rectify the issue.
Known as ‘geofencing’, this would bring rental e-bikes into line with e-scooters, which require their users to park them in designated areas in order to end the rental.
Other authorities have taken action on the dumped e-bikes by simply removing them from the streets – only for the e-bike company to take them back.
Hammersmith and Fulham borough council got so tired of getting complaints about dumped bicycles that it impounded 100 of them in August.
But Lime workers went into the lot without permission and took back 70 of their own bikes, the Standard reports. Lime said the employees responsible had been sacked.
Tier says it ‘prides itself on providing a valuable service in a safe and responsible way’, adding that Ignacio’s case was in the hands of insurers. It said it had never received a report of a similar ‘trapping’ event before now.
It added: ‘The case remains subject to an ongoing process with our insurer, who are working with us to resolve the situation quickly and fairly. In the meantime, we wish the family strength as they await the outcome.’
TfL told the Telegraph that it was working with boroughs to look at setting up a single, city-wide scheme to manage dockless bikes and scooters.
In response to a written question from London Assembly member Krupesh Harani in March, the Greater London Authority (GLA) said TfL had been working with councils and operators to ‘improve and standardise operation’ across London to ‘steer customer behaviour’.
The GLA added: ‘London’s e-scooter trial uses mandatory parking bays meaning it is compulsory for riders to park in painted bays as set out in the contracts entered into for the trial. The same is not yet possible for rental e-bikes.
‘TfL will continue to encourage the Government to address this matter via new legislation, as it indicated it intended to do in May 2022.
MailOnline has contacted TfL and the Department for Transport for comment.
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