Abandoned bikes to be rounded up

This article was published in 2006, in Newsletter 68.

Abandoned bicycles

Operation Cyclone, which is the Cambridge police operation covering all things cycle-related, announced in September that clearance of abandoned bikes was about to take place in the city centre. We welcome such a move, although the City Rangers have been clearing abandoned bicycles for years.

We agree that removal of abandoned bikes is a good thing, because it keeps streets, railings and cycle parking clear for active users. Several concerns have been raised about the clearance, however.

  • The period of seven days notice is too short (less than a typical holiday). Two weeks or more would be appropriate.
  • A quality management scheme needs to be in place to ensure that notice periods are correctly adhered to. By this we mean a management structure that ensures that if the policy or notice says the labelled bike will be impounded in two weeks, it is not removed any earlier, and that labels don’t appear on bikes claiming that they were there a week before they actually were. It shouldn’t require a published set of rules, just good management and fairness and discretion in the way it is applied.
  • Any bikes removed should be registered and stored for a reasonable period (perhaps a month or two?) before disposal in order to allow people time to recover them.
  • No sweeps or purges should be carried out during college holidays when owners may be away for long periods. Having said that, it is in nobody’s interests to have students’ bikes left unused on the streets or public cycle parking for long periods so holiday storage is an issue that should be addressed.

These are all points that we would have made had we been contacted in advance. We would like think that the police would be open to discussing proposals like their sweep of abandoned cycles in advance with interest groups such as ourselves. Not only would this help ensure that problems are minimised, but would give additional publicity to a valuable scheme, publicity we are happy, as now, to give.

Martin Lucas-Smith, Co-ordinator