This article was published in 2014, in Newsletter 113.
The University of Cambridge is currently undertaking a major refurbishment of a key building on one of its sites in central Cambridge. The multi-million pound refurbishment of the 1960s Arup Building on the New Museums site (off Downing Street) will see it housing the Cambridge Conservation Initiative and an extended Zoology Museum, and is the first stage of a wider plan for the site as a whole.
During the works, hundreds of new secure cycle parking-spaces have been provided. We have been impressed by the University’s response to the problem.
By way of background, the New Museums site has long been something of a disaster zone for cycle-parking provision. Bikes have been parked wherever space could be found – however insecure. What little cycle parking there was was generally insecure, being old-fashioned stands such as wheelbenders. Indeed, almost nothing had changed since a consultant’s report almost 10 years ago audited the site and proposed changes to provide new cycle parking.
Last year the university submitted a planning application for the Arup refurbishment. The proposed level of cycle parking was insufficient, triggering a formal objection from us. In our objection, we took the opportunity to point out that changes to this building provide an opportunity to sort out the cycle parking around the rest of the site, by providing temporary cycle parking spaces during the works that could be converted to more permanent cycle parking afterwards.
The Estate Management department was quick to follow up our objection, and a meeting was soon arranged, with an on-site walkaround shortly after. Together we quickly identified pockets of space around the site that were already being used informally for leaving bikes, as well as areas which could have a car-parking space or two reallocated (that would anyway be hard to access with the works taking place).
A plan was drawn up, and we were sufficiently reassured to enable us to withdraw our objection, removing the last remaining barrier in the planning system for the university to receive approval for the site.
The new cycle parking has now been installed, and it is clearly making a significant difference to those who cycle in. Unused wasted spaces and a few former car parking spaces now contain ‘toast-rack’ cycle parking, and high-capacity double-decker racks have been provided. Spaces are also planned on the nearby Downing Site near the Downing Street pedestrian entrance.
We’d like to congratulate the university Estate Management for their quick and effective work in installing this cycle parking. We think this bodes well for future changes around the site, and we look forward to working with them to help advise on what can be achieved as the masterplan takes shape.