Hackers bypass software to get free ride and dump e-bikes on London streets

  • Tap above to watch video report by Rags Martel

Hackers are bypassing software used in dockless e-bikes, using them for free and dumping them on the pavement without being traced or punished.

The warning from Westminster City Council comes after video circulated on social media showed how to hack into the operating system of the bikes.

Concerns were raised that hackers could be involved in antisocial behaviour. 

The council said it received daily complaints about dockless bikes being abandoned on the pavement across the city.

The council called for apps to be improved so residents and businesses can report badly-parked bikes more easily.

Discussions between the council and dockless bike companies about creating designated parking bays are ongoing.

The council recently welcome the announcement that Lime bikes will increase their fines on customers who dump bikes to a minimum of £10.

And following discussions with the council, no-parking zones have recently been introduced in a number of key West End locations.

Councillor Paul Dimoldenberg, 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."

Lime is one of the main e-bike operators in London and said safety was their main priority.

"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 encourage users to report any videos of tampering or vandalism of Lime e-bikes to the relevant social media platform, and are seeking to work with the likes of TikTok to implement a process where videos are removed."

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