Bike recycling scheme to clear tenement stairs

Green councillor Melanie Main with bikes in a stairwell in Argyle Place. Picture: Ian Georgeson

Green councillor Melanie Main with bikes in a stairwell in Argyle Place. Picture: Ian Georgeson

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HUNDREDS of unwanted bikes are to be recycled under a new crackdown aimed at cleaning up tenement stairwells across the Capital.

Guidelines drawn up by the Scottish Green Party, council officials and Police Scotland aim to “empower” residents to get nuisance bikes shifted – with a 12-week notice period given before they are taken away.

The move will see letters posted through doors and a warning attached to the bicycle itself before removal, which will only be possible if every resident on the block denies ownership.

The bike can then by taken away by locals or removed by a third party before police are contacted to check if it is lost or stolen.

From there, cycles should be handed to the police to be recycled or, if removed by residents themselves, donated to an outside organisation.

Bikes cannot be sold on for profit.

Green councillor Melanie Main, who is spearheading the drive, said the growing number of abandoned bicycles in common stairs has become a “real problem” over the past couple of years.

She insisted that “hundreds” of left-behind bikes were cluttering up shared spaces across the city, and revealed plans for a mass clean-up next year that could see as many as 100 cycles removed from Marchmont in one morning.

“Apart from being a hazard in themselves and for less able residents, they take up valuable storage space and have become an unmovable eyesore in so many tenements when the common stair should be a welcoming shared space,” she said.

“So I was delighted to help with the new advice that will let residents reclaim their common stairs.

“With literally hundreds of abandoned bikes cluttering up common stairs across the city, these simple steps will see clutter cleared, stairs cleaned and make room to store bikes in use.

“It will also provide a supply of recycled bikes for budding new city cyclists.”

Under the new rules, bikes causing an obstruction – defined as those where the gap between the handlebar and the wall is less than 800mm – can also be forcibly removed by fire crews if owners refuse to do it themselves.

But officials insisted “the guidance is not designed, and should not be used, as a way to ‘target’ particular neighbours” – and said the moves were still being trialled.

Councillor Lesley Hinds, the Capital’s transport convener, said: “We welcome the introduction of this guidance, drawn up to deal with the issue of abandoned bikes in stairwells, which is a real problem for residents and cyclists alike.

“The guidance is currently being trialled and I look forward to receiving any feedback or suggestions from the public.”

alistair.grant@edinburghnews.com