Cycle parking

As many members will know, good levels of cycle parking are a requisite for reducing levels of theft, as well as seeing increased levels of cycling. Cycling will not be increased if people have nowhere to park their bike when they reach their destination. Cycle parking should be a ‘quick win’, but getting it in practice seems to be another matter altogether.

City Centre bike parking is extremely limited where it is most needed.
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The last year has seen quite a variety of issues arising in relation to cycle parking, or rather the lack of it. Partly in recognition of this, the Cycle Parking Subgroup was reinvigorated a few months ago and has since met on several occasions.

The subgroup basically provides a forum for discussion about cycle parking issues and enables us to look into these issues in greater depth and get a better idea overall of where things stand. We would warmly encourage any member who has an interest in seeing improved cycle parking around the city to come along to a meeting with your ideas.

Reviewing recent cycle parking decisions

The Subgroup started its first recent meeting with a review of the various decisions made by the City Council over the past year relating to cycle parking. These have included:

  • Cambridge Leisure (i.e. the Cattle Market site) and the Junction, where we have fought to get a decent level of cycle parking and there have been concerns on actually ensuring the agreed levels of cycle parking are actually put in; usage of this cycle parking is already reasonably high and will only increase.
  • Acceptance of the new Cycle Park for the Grand Arcade (despite the fact that the level of cycle parking is well below what the standards at the time required), together with our ongoing pressure to ensure that it can actually be accessed, through provision of a new contraflow cycle facility joining up King’s Parade with Downing Street (some Council officials are continuing to place barriers to getting this implemented).
  • Cycle parking for the redevelopment of Bradwell’s Court in the city centre, where low levels of cycle parking – in the area of the city with arguably the highest levels of demand – are proposed and the Council seems unwilling to pressure the developers into satisfying the clear demand for more parking.
  • The new Park Street Cycle Park, a positive development, usage of which has been increasing steadily, despite its less than ideal location.
  • The new Coral Park development, where cycle parking could have been installed nearer the entrances to the new retail units.
  • Getting sensible levels of cycle parking for the proposed redevelopment of the Cambridge United Football Stadium.
  • Ongoing discussions at the railway station and the unwillingness to provide new cycle parking in advance of provision as part of longer-term plans which may never actually get implemented.
  • Cycle parking at residential developments – where, it seems, the required levels of cycle parking are generally being provided.

City Council cycle parking standards

Probably in response to our campaigning pointing out consistent implementation below the standards, the City Council has just revised its cycle parking standards. These set out the minimum requirements in terms of cycle parking for new developments and changes in use. The Car and Cycle Parking Standards form Supplementary Planning Guidance to the Cambridge Local Plan 1996.

The standards take the form of a short list of principles to be adhered to, followed by the detailed requirements – set out as the ratio of parking spaces to gross floor area – for different types of developments (e.g. shops, leisure uses, residential sites, etc.)

The Subgroup discussed the revised standards briefly, and will be looking at them in more detail at our next meeting. We hope to present a fuller review in a future edition of the Newsletter.

On first reading, we found that many of the areas have been downgraded, apparently in response to our campaigning and pressure from businesses and house-builders. The latest version of the standards requires some large developments to offer a lower quantity of cycle parking than before. Perhaps the City Council thinks these lower standards are more realistic. In any case we hope they will enforce them rather more effectively than they did the previous standards.

Secondly, the standards introduce the principle of flexibility (i.e. reductions to the level of cycle parking) for multi-purpose site planning applications, where a ‘duplication of provision’ might result. This could be of particular relevance, for example, to the Cambridge Leisure development, where we have fought hard to get the required levels of cycle parking.

Cycle parking standards introduce the principle of flexibility: the amount can be reduced when it suits the authorities or developers, as here at Cambridge Leisure.
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Reference is also made to the ‘Historic Core Area of the city where land constraints may make application of the standards difficult for change of use or refurbishment’. Sadly, this is the area where the shortage of cycle parking is greatest. We would prefer to see an approach where cycle parking takes up space that developers would otherwise be able to use to maximise floor area.

The revised standards also introduce, for the first time, some small diagrams hinting on how best to install the parking. This area could be improved and clarified.

The challenge now is to make sure that the standards are implemented – both the Council and developers have no excuses now. Watch this space.

The updated standards are linked from our website at: http://www.camcycle.org.uk/resources/cycleparking/standards/ As always, members can request printed copies via our usual contact details.

Implementation of the standards

One idea put forward has been to draw up, for presentation to relevant Council officials, a simple pro-forma which developers would have to submit as part of their planning applications. This would basically be a copy of the standards with boxes next to each type of provision. Developers would simply enter the amount of floor space in each category, enabling a simple calculation of the required number of spaces to be made.

Locations for new cycle parking

We hope to put in place a new online reporting form for people to suggest locations for new cycle parking around the city.

This ideally should be something that the City Council should be doing themselves, if the willingness to improve levels by any significant degree were present.

Cycle parking guide

We hope to put together a Cambridge-specific guide which could be sent to developers to encourage them to provide increased levels of good quality cycle parking, and to give a summary effectively showing how to do things properly. It is intended that such a guide would contain everything from ‘why provide cycle parking?’ to ‘where can I install it?’

However, we have just discovered that Sustrans and the CTC (formerly the Cyclists’ Touring Club) have created a similar guide, so we may consider using this as a basis for our own guide. Copies of their guide are available online at: www.ctc.org.uk/resources/campaigns/cycleparkinfo.pdf.

Cycle parking webpages

The cycle parking pages on our website contain a variety of information. We hope to expand these in due course. Point your web browser at: www.camcycle.org.uk/resources/cycleparking/ .

Get involved

The next meeting of the Cycle Parking Subgroup is 7-9 pm on Thursday 25th November, at 100 Thoday Street. Do come along and give your input and ideas.

You can also join our e-mail discussion list, which supplements the subgroup meetings. There are details on this on our website at http://www.camcycle.org.uk/campaigning/subgroups/cycleparking/.

We have lots of ideas but so far not enough people to carry out actions such as letter-writing or surveying cycle parking levels. Do offer your help if you can, however much/little you feel able to contribute. Even just turning up to a meeting is valuable!

Martin Lucas-Smith, Co-ordinator