Free cycle parking in Park Street Car Park

This article was published in 2002, in Newsletter 42.

It is often hard to find a secure place to park your bike in the city centre. It’s not news to readers of this newsletter that every cycle parking space and every railing in the central Cambridge is occupied from dawn to dusk by bicycles of all shapes and sizes and in varying states of decay. The familiar pattern is that you often have to move someone else’s bike out of the way to squeeze your bike in so that you can attach the D-lock to a solid object. Failing that many give up and just lean the bike against the wall, lock it to itself and hope for the best.

Police in Cambridge receive around 40 reports of stolen bikes each week. A quarter of these are bikes that were locked to themselves.

Situated in Level A of Park Street Car Park, a unique public facility in Britain has been created a free city-centre cycle park. It’s not the first city centre cycle park that’s in Leicester. It’s not the biggest covered cycle park that’s at York station, but it is the first large secured cycle park in a city centre in the UK. A total of 271 cycle parking spaces are available, replacing the four cycle spaces and 24 car parking spaces that were there before.

Image as described adjacent
Routes to Park Street Cycle Park.

Park Street Cycle Park is an ambitious step in the plan to reduce the level of reported cycle theft in Cambridge. It is ambitious not only in terms of the number of cycle parking spaces it offers, but also in the style of cycle parking provided.

During the planning of the cycle park many businesses and cyclists in the area were surveyed about their cycle parking experiences. There was a great deal of interest, but on the other hand most people said they were used to parking right outside the place they want to be. Most, though, said they would use this facility and be prepared to pay around £3 per week to use a cycle locker. What convinced me that the idea would work was the experience in Leicester, where a similar facility which charges £1 per day for supervised cycle parking is consistently full up.

The cycle park has been open for a month now. Uptake of the facility has been very slow so far, but it hasn’t had its major launch event yet. In fact the only way that most people know about it is if they follow the Cycle Park signs on their way into the city from Magdalene Bridge and Jesus Green.

If you haven’t tried the cycle park yet, I urge you to give it a go. It’s not until you’ve actually tried the cycle park that you discover the benefits it may offer you. It is particularly convenient for the large number of cyclists who commute to the city centre from the direction of Jesus Green.

271 cycle parking spaces are provided. Of these the majority are cycle racks and they are free to use. The cycle racks were chosen in consultation with the Campaign, are well spaced and provide good support for a wide range of bicycle frame shapes and many points to secure the frame of the bike. There are special racks for bikes with trailers and tandems.

It is the first large secured cycle park in a city centre in the UK

In addition to the free racks, cycle lockers can be hired for £10 per month. These provide the ultimate cycle security, eliminating the threat of sabotage and vandalism to your bike.

The cycle park is protected by CCTV, and anyone entering there has the potential to be picked up by three different CCTV cameras. There is a 24-hour security presence and a help point.

On top of all the security features, the cycle park is indoors and open 24 hours a day, seven days a week, so it’s the ideal place to keep your bike away from the weathering effects of both sun and rain.

To get to the cycle park follow the routes shown on the map. The entrance is from Park Street: the signposts guide you there. There are pedestrian exits through Jordan’s Yard to Bridge Street, or via the stairs or ramp to Park Street.

Simon Nuttall