City Centre Parking?

This article was published in 1999, in Newsletter 26.

‘The lack of suitable parking discourages me from coming into the centre to shop.’

This is not from a motorist but from a cyclist!

As part of the Cycling Campaign’s response to the Grand Arcade scheme, I did a count of cycles parked in the city centre close to the proposed scheme. We were concerned that insufficient provision was being made for cycle access in the new scheme, but had little evidence of existing use.

Here are the results of the count.

Cycles parked

0715 81 26 32 67 206
0810 116 37 23 99 275
0900 203 75 55 152 485
1030 250 147 110 228 735
1300 254 178 213 289 934

Official cycle spaces provided

Sheffield hoops 176
Nappy pins 80
Butterflies 224
Total 470


  • Secured means frame locked to some fixed object.
  • Sheffield hoops and nappy pins (the curly stands in St Andrew’s Street) count as two spaces.
  • Counts done on Thursday 15 July 1999.
  • The area covered started in Corn Exchange Street, then followed the rear of Lion Yard, Fisher Hall, Guildhall, St Edwards Passage, Great St Mary’s, Market Square, Sidney Street (not towards Bridge Street), St Andrews Street, the bus station, Downing Street and St Tibb’s Row.
Image as described adjacent
Nappy pin cycle parking

It can clearly be seen (that is a phrase forbidden in my research days!) that there is currently insufficient space of any type in the City Centre. I do not believe cyclists should have to spend many minutes pushing their bike through pedestrianised areas looking for a space. If authorities wish to encourage cycling, there must be sufficient secure parking to give those on casual trips easy access.

By 0900 there are already nearly twice as many bikes parked in the Centre as secure stands. This probably means that there is insufficient provision even for those working in this part of the City, leaving none for shoppers and casual visitors.

At a time when the County has spent over £1 000 000 on Park and Ride for 500 motorists, surely money could be found for secure cycle parking in the city centre (500 would cost around
£10 000)? Although there is space for only a few dozen extra in St Andrew’s Street, there is lots of room around the Guildhall and Drummer Street bus station. 500 new secure spaces could easily be provided within a year.

As well as convenience, the presence of ample secure parking could reduce theft of bikes. As the theft of bikes is a sizeable percentage of Cambridge crime, the simple provision of more spaces could significantly improve crime figures.

In the longer term, if the Grand Arcade scheme goes ahead, it may be possible to provide some 500 covered and secure spaces in addition to those originally proposed by the developers.

Jim Chisholm

Campaign’s parking subgroup

Despite valiant efforts by the Campaign in recent years, our efforts to get more Sheffield racks in central Cambridge or outside public buildings have been less than satisfactory. So at the last open meeting I offered to review all recent Campaign documents over the next couple of weeks, and then make approaches to City and County Council officials and councillors. If you would like to assist this key Campaign objective, please ring me on Cambridge 354600 or email me on

Oliver Merrington