Street cycle parking project

This article was published in 2018, in Newsletter 137.

The aim of this project is to help organise the residents of Petersfield and Romsey to call for more on-street cycle parking. Cycling levels in these areas of Cambridge are amongst the highest in the country, yet in many of the streets there is nowhere to park a cycle securely and all the available space is given to car parking.

Thoday Street trial

The Thoday Street scheme was triggered three years ago when a resident contacted the Campaign to ask why she had to take her bike down a narrow passage to park in the rear garden whilst a neighbour was permitted to park their rarely used camper van almost permanently on the street in front of the house.

This is one of the two cycle parking areas installed on Thoday Street in 2015; it has space for eight bikes.
Image as described adjacent

This led to a trial of cycle parking in which two racks, each providing eight cycle parking spaces, were placed on the street for a two-week period. The followup survey received a muted response, with 50% for and 50% against making the racks a permanent feature. We persuaded the county councillor to do a more thorough survey which led him to support the scheme and it was eventually passed unanimously by a county committee.

Following that vote, two separate car parking spaces on Thoday Street were each replaced by cycle parking for eight bikes, as shown in the photo. These have proved successful, with the racks regularly filling up to capacity in the evening and emptying in the morning, making much more effective use of the space than two cars would.

Three-year plan

Since the Thoday Street scheme, little has happened as the goal of more street cycle parking was not adopted by any of the local political parties. In 2016 a resolution was passed at the Camcycle AGM to make it a campaign priority, but that lay dormant until I decided to volunteer some of my time to it, starting this year.

Picturesque Petersfield or Parking Poverty? Bicycles locked to themselves or attached to drainpipes in Gwydir Street are vulnerable to theft and obstruct the footway. Almost all the available parking space on this street is allocated to car storage.
Image as described adjacent

Building on the experiences of the Thoday Street scheme we have adopted a time frame of three years. The aim is to raise awareness of the possibilities of onstreet cycle parking, what it looks like, where it goes and why it is needed. Adopting a strategy that runs over this sort of timescale means that we can plan to fit in with the annual cycle of meetings and elections. We believe that this idea is something all political parties could support if the residents wanted it.

We’ve focused the project on Romsey and Petersfield as this is the area the current volunteers know best. There are also two major planning applications here: for the City Depot site between Mill Road and Hooper Street, and Ridgeons on Cromwell Road. And plans are emerging to introduce residents’ car parking schemes in these areas. Now is the time to start the conversation about cycle parking so that it can be included in any proposals that come forward.

No easy pickings

If you walk around the streets of Romsey and Petersfield you’ll often see places where bikes are attached to lamp posts and drainpipes, and also places that say ‘No bike parking please’. Similarly, there are short sections of street where there are double-yellow lines long enough to be replaced by some street cycle parking. There are also some sections of unused footway that, with careful planning, could accommodate a few racks. But this project is not really focused on those easy pickings. The value is in replacing the car parking spaces of the marked areas of the highway with dedicated cycle parking. That case will take more work, but it must be won for the sake of fairer use of public space and the proven need.

Street cycle parking on St Philip’s Road.
Image as described adjacent

Stimulate demand

We think the project should proceed by promoting the opportunities of on-street cycle parking. We plan to do this by conducting a survey for residents that aims to find out how they are parking their bikes and any problems they are having.

The aim is to get a picture of where in the streets there is a clear demand for racks. We plan to follow up the survey by distributing a leaflet about the project and to hold a demonstration day in the area by inviting cycle parking suppliers to display their wares.

We’ve already applied for funding to get a design for the project materials and for processing the surveys. The project is currently run for three hours a week on a Wednesday when I visit the Camcycle office to work with Roxanne on a voluntary basis. We are reporting our progress on Cyclescape thread 2876 and at the monthly open meetings. We warmly welcome your input, ideas and support.

Simon Nuttall