Substantially more cycle parking at Cambridge station has been a long time coming: twenty years or more by my reckoning. But now real progress is being made, both immediately, and over the next eighteen months.
Construction is to start on the 3,000 space cycle park, officially to be known as CyclePoint, this autumn, with a view to its being opened at the end of 2015. Waters were muddied somewhat recently, though, by reports that this had already been delayed to May 2016. However, Abellio Greater Anglia tells us that while the whole building, which includes a hotel, may not be finished until then, the cycle park part is still intended to open in December 2015. Indeed, delays here would be critical because already deferred funding commitments from the Department for Transport run out at the end of next year! We also believe that legal agreements require the cycle park to be open before some other stages of the station area redevelopment can proceed, so it looks like it is in everyone’s interest to ensure this all goes to plan.
In the meantime, preparation for this and other building work around the station frontage is being carried out. The whole area in front of the station will be replaced in due course with a larger square with fewer traffic movements. Taxis and car drop-offs will approach from a new road off Tenison Road instead of along Station Road. (Unfortunately bikes coming from the south will have to cross this new road to get to the cycle park.) The ticket hall at the station is also being substantially enlarged to cope with the intense overcrowding it currently sees.
This means rearranging much of the cycle parking. Already many two-tier racks have been installed. These increase capacity a little to just over 800 spaces at the time of writing. However, more racks are to be provided over the next few weeks so that there will be over 1,300 spaces by the middle of August. This is a near-doubling of capacity since the beginning of the year. It seems unlikely these spaces will completely cope with current demand (and certainly the modest increase by end of June has immediately been soaked up), but is a huge improvement a year-and-a-half before the CyclePoint opens.
The new racks are the favoured design chosen as a result of the smaller scale trials last year (those racks, better and worse ones, have been full all of the time since they were installed). The new racks are funded by the County Council, but one thing that has made this possible now is that these racks can be re- used in the new building.
Greater Anglia has published the first in a series of newsletters to keep stakeholders up-to-date with Cambridge station developments. We’ll be putting copies of these on Cyclescape as we receive them. (If you are not on Cyclescape yet, just ask us for an invitation.)
Beyond the current cycle park development, we still want to see a direct link into the station from the cycle park. The platform bridge is aligned to the new building in such a way that it could be linked easily. The engineering is, however, the easy bit. Staffing, supervision and ticketing are the rail companies’ main concerns. However, I’d expect smartphone ticketing to become commonplace in the next couple of years (you can already get tickets on your phone and jump the queues to many destinations directly served from Cambridge, including London of course).
And then the longer term question: will 3,000 spaces be enough? We think there is huge suppressed demand at present, and already getting on for half that number of bikes are parked routinely around the station, notwithstanding the number of official places. Will the cycle park need to extend over the car park sooner than anyone imagined?