City centre cycle parking

This article was published in 2007, in Newsletter 74.

The situation for cycle parking in the city centre continues to go from bad to worse. Councillors from all the main political parties, approving developments in contravention of the cycle parking standards, must take responsibility for this.

Councillors are actively encouraging cycle theft to remain at a high level. There were 6,693 reported cycle thefts (13.5% of all Cambridge crime) during the 3 year period from 2001-4. It is not a minor problem.

Councillors are actively encouraging cycle theft to remain at a high level by effectively requiring cyclists to leave their bikes on pavements against walls, where the frame cannot be locked, because these new developments simply provide too little cycle parking for the new journeys they will create.

Scale of the cycle theft problem

Whilst there are other factors which increase cycle theft, lack of cycle parking is obviously a key aspect. It also results in cycles blocking pavements – to the detriment of people walking – and inconvenience to cyclists from not finding a space.

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Cycle theft now accounts for over 10% of reported crime across Cambridgeshire. And Cambridge is now ranked third (below two spots in London) for cycle theft in the Halifax Home Insurance survey.

The Cambridge City Crime and Disorder Audit 2004 states that, in a three year period from 2001-4, there were 6693 cycle thefts (13.5% of all Cambridge crime), and it acknowledges that cycle theft is a heavily under-reported crime, ‘with some estimates suggesting that as much as 66% of offences are never brought to police attention.’ The detection rate was just 2%, meaning that most cycle thieves get away with it.

And during a two-month period this summer, the 54 reported cycle thefts in Petersfield accounted for 27% of the total 200 reported crimes there (see the previous article).

Recent developments

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Over the last few years, we have reported our activity in objecting to planning applications that fail to provide sufficient cycle parking, and which in some cases reduce what was already there.

The Park Street Cycle Park is an excellent facility but ultimately not in the best place and unsuitable for trips to, say, the Library, for which an additional 20 minutes would be added to an overall journey.

We protested about many of these and raised these issues at the Local Plan Inquiry, where the standards were changed to allow ‘flexibility’. Our comprehensive report is on our website.

Martin Lucas-Smith, Co-ordinator

Why provide cycle parking?

Good quality cycle parking:

  • Deters thefts from taking place;
  • Is convenient and easy to use, and provides people with an incentive to cycle rather than use the car;
  • Stops bikes blocking pavements and other areas
  • Is highly efficient: some 10-12 bikes can be parked in the space of a single car
  • Is inexpensive: land usage costs are lower than for car parking; a stand for two cycles costs about £100 including installation.

A good example of our campaign action has been the Grand Arcade development. The net increase of around 400 spaces is lower than the 2004 Cycle Parking Standards required. 537 spaces are to be provided in a dedicated cycle park. Over 135 existing spaces are to be removed. This cycle park is on the wrong side of the development, was unreachable as planned. We fought for years for a contraflow lane to be installed for easier access. It is supposed to include a cycle shop and CCTV and free parking, and these requirements all seem to have been watered down.