The Camcycle guide to inclusive cycle parking design (part 1)

At Camcycle, we think a lot about cycle parking because of security concerns and the shortage of spaces where these are most needed, but also because of the increasing popularity of larger cycles that open up cycling for many more people and purposes. Cargo cycles, tandems and trailers help families cycle together, while tricycles, recumbent handcycles and various kinds of adapted cycles help people who might not be able to or want to ride the typical two-wheeler. These are not new: cargo cycles were common over a century ago, tricycles have been around since well before the modern bicycle, and arguably someone invented what could be called a handcycle almost four centuries ago.

a selection of larger cycles
Longer and wider cycles come in many varieties. They can have much larger turning circles and riders may not be able to dismount without assistance.

Yet there has not really been any consensus on a cycle parking solution that works for all of these cycles. The wonderful thing about them – that they come in so many shapes and sizes – is also the difficult thing about them. We would like to see a reasonable proportion of larger and inclusive spaces within every cycle parking facility, with such provision required within the next Local Plan. Of course, exactly how many such spaces would depend on context. Even more crucially, we will need some robust guidance for consistent and practical designs, so that architects and engineers can get to work.

cycle parking specification diagram
Diagram 5 from Cambridge’s Cycle Parking Guide for New Residential Developments showing detailed layout specifications.

Here’s a quick summary of the current cycle parking guidance available:

  • The Cambridge supplementary planning document (SPD) known as the Cycle Parking Guide for New Residential Developments (2010) is the official guide to the design of cycle parking in the city of Cambridge. It has also been used for non-residential cycle parking since the adoption of the current Local Plan (2018). This covers the basics such as secure stands, enclosure of cycle parks, and some accessibility issues such as doors and ramps. There are extensive diagrams showing layout specifications for cycle parking in various configurations as well as figures showing the swept path of a person walking a bicycle in various manoeuvres. While this guide has served well for many purposes over the past decade it is becoming dated and in particular does not have much to say about larger cycles.
  • The Guide to Inclusive Cycling (2017-2020) published by Wheels for Wellbeing (an award-winning charity supporting disabled people of all ages and abilities to enjoy the benefits of cycling) is an excellent source of information about inclusive cycling in general and we wholeheartedly endorse it. There is a section about cycle parking with a lot of ideas and recommendations, such as having larger, 1.5m-wide cycle parking spaces at the ends of each row of Sheffield stands. However, it does not contain the kind of detailed specifications, such as those found in the Cambridge SPD, which are useful for designers and architects looking for a ready-made cycle parking solution.
  • The government’s latest cycle design manual, Local Transport Note (LTN) 1/20, is based on inclusivity as an overarching principle. The manual has chapters about the dimensions and physical constraints of larger cycles as well as cycle parking in general. This is, overall, a huge step forward for inclusive cycling. However, the chapter on cycle parking is also light on detailed specifications compared to the Cambridge SPD. The main recommendation for larger cycles seems to be the statement that ‘where provision is required for three-wheeled cycles, lateral spaces between stands should be increased to at least 2.0m‘, along with some enhanced aisle widths.
  • It is always worth asking ‘what do the Dutch do?‘ when faced with a question about cycling. In this case, however, the answer is somewhat disappointing. New cycle parking facilities usually include designated space for larger cycles, however no provision for securing the cycles is usually made. The cycles are expected to be left standing on their own with the wheels locked. This may be sufficient in a guarded facility but would not satisfy typical cycle insurance policies in an unguarded space, where locking to a fixed cycle stand is a prerequisite of coverage. For many people this is a deal-breaker given the expense of larger cycles.
Dutch cargo cycle parking
Some cycle parking spaces in Amsterdam, intended for disabled cyclists and cargo cycle users, but lacking secure stands onto which to lock (photo: Mark Wagenbuur).

An important distinction

Larger cycle parking‘ and ‘inclusive cycle parking‘ can be the same thing, but are not always.

larger cycle parking: ground anchors and half height sheffield stands
Examples of parking options for larger cycle such as ground anchors and half-height Sheffield stands from London and Malmö (source: The Guide to Inclusive Cycling)

Larger cycle parking:

  • Should be well-marked and reserved for larger cycles that do not fit in ‘typical’ cycle spaces.
  • Should be of length and width suitable for cargo cycles, cycles with trailers, tandem cycles and longer recumbent cycles. According to LTN 1/20 these could be up to 2.8m long by 1.2m wide, however in practice most are less than 2.3m long and 1.0m wide. Therefore it may be wise to provide for the average but also include some longer spaces for those who need them.
  • Should have aisles and doorways of suitable width for longer and wider cycles that are more difficult to manoeuvre and take up more space when turning. There can be neither stairs nor stepped ramps. Ramps should be of gentle gradients and any lifts must be large enough to fit the 2.8m by 1.2m cycle and its rider(s).
  • Should include cycle stands that permit the securing of both the front and rear of the cycle, most likely with separate D-locks or chains, and also using stand designs that gently discourage users of ‘typical’ bicycles from taking them. Half-height Sheffield stands and ground anchors are two options that can be combined or mixed.
disabled cyclist parking spaces
Dedicated cycle parking for disabled students and staff at Trinity College, Dublin: these spaces have step-free access and are clearly delineated and signed (source: The Guide to Inclusive Cycling)

Inclusive cycle parking:

  • May have similarities to larger cycle parking, except: (1) some disabled cyclists do use typical bicycles, (2) there are additional requirements above and beyond the aforementioned ones specified for larger cycles. Therefore, some of these additional requirements potentially could be added to typical-sized cycle parking, while in other cases the additional requirements should come on top of the larger cycle parking requirements.
  • Should be well-marked and reserved for disabled cyclists and other people who need the facility.
  • Should be located conveniently to serve the needs of disabled people at the building or site.
  • Facilities should be ride-in-and-out in forward motion, meaning no need for reversing, turning or lifting a cycle. Designers must not assume that a disabled cyclist could dismount and push, nor reverse while mounted. It would be ideal if all inclusive cycle parking spaces were designed for ride-in-and-out in forward motion, however we recognise that practical limitations may mean this can only be achieved for a subset of spaces.
  • Should have additional room on the side for mounting and dismounting, and would ideally be provided with poles or handles to help people mount and dismount their cycle – or this may be integrated with the cycle stand. This additional room may be shared with adjacent cycle parking spaces or aisles because it is only used when entering or exiting the space; it is a type of aisle space. That is one reason why spaces at the ends of rows are easiest to convert into inclusive cycle parking: easier access to additional aisle space.
  • Doors should be automatically actuated because many disabled cyclists will not be able to open a door manually while manoeuvring their cycle. If a button press is required then the position of the button(s) needs to take into account the various possible positions of a disabled cyclist, which may range from low on a recumbent handcycle, to high on an upright bicycle or tricycle.

So what is an inclusive cycle parking space?

After considering all these needs and requirements, is it possible to come up with a simple answer like Diagram 5 (shown above) of the Cambridge SPD? Sadly, it is unlikely to be as simple as that. However, with some work, a satisfactory solution could be found in most cases by offering some variety of options. In simple and smaller installations, the advice of offering larger spaces at the ends of the rows of Sheffield stands may be sufficient. For larger cycle parking facilities, more variety is possible. We also suggest combining and mixing options. For example, half-height Sheffield stands and ground anchors can both be installed in the same spaces, giving people more flexibility to choose what works best for them.

Possible inclusive cycle parking space layout
Example of a potential single space layout with half-height Sheffield stand as well as front and rear ground anchors for multiple attachment options. We suggest aisles on either side to allow ride-in-and-out in forward motion, as well as a shared mounting/dismounting aisle alongside the parking space.

There are also other needs that we have not mentioned so far, such as with regard to lighting and the accessibility of ‘help points’, that should not be forgotten. We encourage reading of the Guide to Inclusive Cycling and we welcome feedback.

Do you ride a larger cycle? Are you a disabled cyclist? What are your experiences? Please let us know so we can incorporate your views into part 2 of this series.