How not to build a cycle park

This article was published in 2017, in Newsletter 135.

A brand new, recently opened office building has been built with some of the worst cycle parking access ever seen in Cambridge.

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One Station Square, in the CB1 development, is home to high-profile organisations like Amazon and Deloitte, and has some of the highest rents in the city. There are very few car parking spaces available to people working in the block, so almost everyone is expected to arrive by bike, foot or public transport. The building needs a big cycle park, and it has one, in the basement of the building.

However, it is accessed by stairs that a fit, able-bodied cyclist with a light bike and no panniers would struggle with – for many other cycle commuters, the cycle park might well be useless. Full marks for perseverance should be awarded to the cyclists that do manage to get their bikes down there (in particular the owner of the blue bike with the basket shown below) and sincere apologies are due to those for whom the access challenges are preventing them using it.

This is the challenge required to use it: having got through the double door entrance, it’s down two steep flights of stairs, either carrying your bike, or using the slippery side ramps.

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Then a sharp right-angled turn (this ‘feature’ appears to have been a late amendment to the planning application).

And then it’s a third flight of stairs, and finally two sets of fire doors.

Anecdotally, some staff have taken to using the main Cyclepoint facility at the station – bringing forward the time when this will be full. For the lucky few with car parking spaces, there is of course a ramp that would be much better for cyclists, but any cyclist daring to use this faces the wrath of the building managers.

Considering this is a brand new, high-profile office building in the cycling capital of the UK, it has to be asked, how has something so rubbish been built?

Do we blame the developers who built it, or the council that gave it planning permission despite being repeatedly warned about the problems of accessing basement cycle parking areas?

Chris Howell.