Cycle parking – still not enough

This article was published in 2000, in Newsletter 30.

Central Cambridge map

Members will know that is almost impossible to find somewhere in central Cambridge to park a bike securely. Feeling strongly about this, I set about re-forming the Cycle Parking subgroup, and seven of us have met twice since the last Newsletter. The next meeting is at my house on Tuesday 27 June.

We have agreed to concentrate on the triangular area shown on the map, as this is the area showing the highest number of unsecured bikes in Jim Chisholm’s peak-time survey. It is also the area where cycle theft is most common, as many members can testify. The police and city council have already drawn up a list of 300 potential new cycle parking spaces, to which will be added earlier suggestions from the Campaign. The police have just received a Home Office grant for cycle crime reduction which should pay for the new spaces, plus the conversion of unused car-parking spaces at Park Street multi-storey. There is also the cycle store planned for the Grand Arcade, but that won’t be ready before 2003.

One problem we have identified is that students, staff and academic visitors to the colleges within this area (St John’s, Trinity, Trinity Hall, Clare, Caius, King’s, Queens’, Cats, Corpus, Pembroke, Emma, Christ’s, Sidney Sussex) often use the public racks on the pavement (or nearby railings, trees, etc.) in preference to college facilities. Hugh Hunt kindly showed the sub-group the three underground cycle stores in Trinity College. Students and staff may request an allocated space in one of the stores, but it seemed most unlikely that students arriving for a college meal or going to and from lectures would bother to cycle round to the back, open the gate, and take their bike down to their particular store. So these spaces seem to be used for storing bikes for occasional weekend use, or over the vacation. Short-term cycle parking for students has different requirements. Richard Mackay – University Environmental Officer – is also surveying provision by university departments. We would like to hear from college members or CUSU Green officers in colleges with ideas on how to solve this problem.

Image as described adjacent
Underground cycle parking at Trinity College. Note the rail for locking frames. Shame about the concrete blocks for the wheels, though.

Once we have identified the existing cycle spaces, including church railings etc., we hope to publish a map of suggested cycle parking locations, together with best designs of cycle lock. We might also suggest where not to leave your bike. Could members please let me know their less well-known places for leaving their bikes in the city centre, so that we can pass on this information to people who mistakenly leave their bike unsecured?

We think we have successfully persuaded the organisers of big events in Cambridge to provide temporary but secure cycle parking. These events include the Big Day Out, Folk Festival, Strawberry Fair, funfairs on the commons and Fireworks Night. If you attend any of these, please let us know how it turns out.

Our web page will try to keep you up-to-date with our progress, or you can contact me. David Meiklejohn (Cycle Friendly Employers Scheme) can answer queries from employers, etc. about suitable cycle storage and suppliers. Note that other zones for the group to consider might be the Grafton Centre, Parker’s Piece, and East Road – but the city centre will have first priority.

Oliver Merrington e-mail