Lime is taking action to clampdown on 'hacked' e-bike use

14 Apr 2023

Micromobility firm Lime says that it is taking action to stop the “limited issue” of its e-bikes in London being ‘hacked’ and used for free, following concerns raised by Westminster City Council.

Officials at the council say they are concerned about dockless e-bikes being tampered with so that they can be used for free, citing videos on social media that show how to bypass the security software of the machines. The hacked bikes do not offer electric assist.

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Lime does not operate in Westminster, but its bikes are available in several neighbouring boroughs, and council officials have repeatedly complained about machines being left in its boundaries and blocking pavements. Westminster says it is particularly concerned about hacked bikes because they would be untraceable, meaning they could be abandoned on pavements without punishment.

In a statement, Lime said: “Lime offers emission free travel to thousands of Londoners every day, and has become an integral part of people's daily routines and the growing levels of cycling in our Capital. This is a promising trend in context of the global climate crisis we face, and as cities' around the UK look to reduce car journeys. Safety is our highest priority for every Lime ride, for our riders and for everyone sharing the streets.

“We are aware of a limited issue related to unlocked bikes being ridden without any power in London, and have worked to identify hardware solutions to prevent it, which are now being tested. We also have other extensive measures in place to prevent our bikes from being tampered with, which includes wheel locks, tamper alarms, and enhanced cybersecurity for our cloud operations system.

"We're committed to working closely with local councils and organisations to ensure our service is as safe as possible, and we recently worked to introduce increased fines for inconsiderate parking in the Soho and Covent Garden areas starting at £10."

Westminster City Council’s worry over hacked bikes add to wider concerns about dockless bikes being left on its pavement, which it says it receives “daily complaints” from residents about. It wants dockless e-bike firms to make it easy for badly parked bikes to be reported in their apps, and says it is also in talks with them to add designated parking bays for e-bikes.

Councillor Paul Dimoldenberg, Westminster’s cabinet member for city management, said: “The council receives daily complaints about dockless e-bikes being dumped on the pavement, particularly in areas like Soho where the streets are narrow and pedestrians are potentially put in danger.

“We’re also very concerned about the apparent ease with which these bikes can be hacked and essentially used for free. There are videos across social media which demonstrate how to hack Lime bikes, and we hope that all dockless bike companies will do more to tackle this.

“Our priority has always been the safety of residents and visitors to the city and keeping our pavements clear. If these bikes are hacked, the rider is untraceable and the bikes can simply be dumped with impunity.”


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