City of London Police seize five illegal e-bikes and e-scooters a week
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Five illegal e-bikes and e-scooters are seized every week by City of London Police’s cycle team, in a crackdown against souped-up bicycles. Since July last year, 140 illegal e-bikes and e-scooters have been seized and taken off the roads.
The City of London Police relaunched its cycling capability last summer to help combat phone snatching, as well as other offences like drug and road offences. The cycle response unit is highly visible, and able to quickly get through areas inaccessible to vehicles.
The modified bikes have been illegally converted to have a motor greater than 250 watt and include a throttle that means the rider no longer needs to propel the pedals to trigger the power assistance. Legal e-bikes are not permitted to exceed 15.5mph and the motor will cut out if the maximum speed is hit. Illegal bikes have been clocked at doing nearly double the permitted limit.
The modifications affectively turn the e-bikes into motorbikes and therefore in order to be road-legal require tax, insurance and a driving licence for the rider. Riders of these vehicles in the City, if caught, can expect to have them seized and depending on the offence, receive a fine of £300.
City of London Police says illegal e-bikes are frequently used to commit crimes like phone snatching. A targeted operation which included the work of the dedicated cycle team saw a big reduction in the number of phones snatched in the City.
City of London Police’s targeted operation was to prevent the worrying rise the force saw in phone snatching in 2022. The number of phones stolen rose sharply in 2022 during the summer months, when visitors to the City would have their mobiles in their hands to seek directions or hire rides. The special police operation helped reduce phone snatching in the City of London by 40 per cent. From July 2023 until the end of the year, there were 360 phone snatching offences, compared to 542 for the same period in 2022.
Chief Superintendent William Duffy, of the City of London Police, said:
“This is good, intelligence led, proactive police work removing these dangerous bikes from our roads and streets. These bikes have been illegally modified and the people who are riding them are generally using them for phone snatching and other criminality.
“Our cycle operations are part of our commitment to reducing anti-social behaviour by road users for the benefit of those that live, work and visit the City.”
Rental e-scooters are the only way to legally ride a device on public roads in London. It is still illegal to use privately-owned e-scooters or other powered transporters on public roads.
Hacked and illegal e-bikes also represent a fire risk as their batteries or chargers may not work as designed. London Fire Brigade has been running its #ChargeSafe campaign to raise awareness of the fire risks and outline what Londoners can do to protect themselves and their livelihoods.
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."
The force supports Vision Zero, which is a part of the Mayor of London’s Transport Strategy and aims to eradicate road deaths and serious injuries from our roads by 2041. As supporters of Vision Zero, the City of London Police is working to ensure no-one is killed or seriously injured travelling in London.