Cambridgeshire County Council’s headquarters at Shire Hall is one of the bigger employment sites in Cambridge, and while the County Council is promoting more sustainable transport, for example through the Travel for Work scheme, it is also making some effort to recognise its own role as employer and energy consumer. Many projects are only pilots so far – for example there is one gas-powered car among the ordinary pool cars, and one solar powered light by the porter’s lodge. However, there has been more serious attention given to cycle parking in recent years and months, and the programme is continuing.
Travelwise co-ordinator David Arkell took me on a tour of some of the cycle parking facilities on one of the wettest mornings of the year in early March. There has always been some cycle parking on the Shire Hall site, but until recently much of it was of the wheel bender variety. Now however, Sheffield stands are becoming the norm. But what is unusual is that many of these are being installed under covered shelters. These are distributed around the large site, so that people can park their bikes close to their particular office. A few new Sheffield stands have also been installed within the last year at the main entrance, which visitors are free to use, and this year at the Castle Court entrance.
Notices on the shelters make it clear that cycle theft is as much a problem here as everywhere. Closed circuit TV seems to be the answer to many urban crime issues. Here the County Council is to install cameras specifically to keep the cycle stands under surveillance. These haven’t gone in yet, but are on the way.
Under Castle Court there is a car park, and at two of the corners a couple of spaces have been removed and replaced by locked cages containing bike racks. County employees can obtain a key, offering them very secure cycle parking with an allocated space. David said that these had been there for several years now. One effect of the generally increased level of provision seems to be that ‘people who might only have cycled in the summer are tending to cycle all year round now’, he said. At which point another member of the Environment and Transport Department staff drew up heavily dressed in waterproofs. Did he use the cages, I asked, expecting to take a photo of them in action. ‘No,’ he replied, ‘I just lean my bike against the wall.’