Cycle of Crime

This article was published in 2002, in Newsletter 44.

After having my bike vandalised at Meldreth station, I decided to look at security at all the stations from Ely to Meldreth. This article is the result. To find out what facilities are on offer to cyclists, I visited the stations and asked cyclists for their opinions on security arrangements.

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Ely station: Cycle parking racks on the platform.

Ely is a busy station, offering a wide range of services, with cycle parking racks located on the platform. This is an important point, as you might hope this was a safe position where people would notice suspicious incidents. Commuter Richard Dean said that he felt safe leaving his bike here: ‘You don’t hear about bicycles being stolen. If I did, I might start walking to the station.’

The remaining stations are small, country ones with only a few hourly services, so they generally have few people passing through.

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Waterbeach station: Cycle parking was installed in conjunction with the County Council.

Waterbeach, the only station with CCTV, is located on a minor road off the A10 and is unmanned. Good cycle parking was installed in conjunction with the County Council. Local resident Sarah Lewis said: ‘These new facilities have made me really relax. I can go to work, knowing that my bike will still be here at the end of the day.’

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Foxton station: Non-existent provision of cycle parking.

Foxton station is located beside the fast and busy A10 so criminal activity would go unnoticed. Cycle parking is non-existent and the bicycles I saw were locked to anything available.

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Shepreth station

Shepreth Station, between The Pool Shop and Willer’s Mill, offers excellent facilities*. Cyclist Andy Downing said that cyclists feel safe: ‘You can leave your bicycle here for hours and you will come back and find it where you left it. These facilities are great because you can’t see them from the road; they’re fairly hidden which means vandalism or theft rarely happens.’

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Meldreth station: ‘People are scared their expensive new bike will be stolen or smashed up.’

Meldreth station is in a very isolated position – the far platform looks out on fields and the Melbourn bypass. There are no cycle parking facilities so bikes get locked to metal bars. The station is manned Monday to Saturdays until 2 pm. Cyclist Linda Billton said: ‘There used to be lots of bicycles left here, now only a few people do. People are scared their expensive, new bike will be stolen or smashed up.’

‘You don’t hear about bicycles being stolen. If I did, I might start walking to the station.’

I regularly use Meldreth and always supposed that the lack of secure cycle parking here was repeated at other stations down the line. But the results of this investigation prove otherwise. Ely is best provided for, but why have Foxton and Meldreth been ignored? This brief survey suggests that secure cycle parking protects bikes whether it is positioned in the public gaze or hidden away, and in either case, encourages people to cycle.

Andrew Lansley, MP for Southern Cambridgeshire, said that he had been discussing the matter with WAGN: ‘I am currently in correspondence with WAGN on this issue and am waiting for a response on improved cycle parking. I have also written to the Strategic Rail Authority to ask that this should be taken into account in the franchise renewal.’ WAGN refused to comment.

Chris Fisher

* While appreciating the cover, the Cycling Campaign would disagree that V-grip racks are ‘excellent facilities’, not providing support or proper locking points, and also worries about ‘hidden’ parking as thieves can work unseen.