Cambridge Cycle Parking Guide

Section 2: Planning it out

Cycles are the original mass transit, bringing far more custom into city centres than could ever be accommodated by car
Bikes in town

2.1 What are the basic requirements for cycle parking?

The overriding need is for the facility to be attractive. To attract customers, people must feel welcome and wanted. They must want to use your business or development, and they must want to come by cycle. To make cycle parking attractive it needs to be:

  • Visible, accessible and convenient. As close as possible to the destination entrance and prominently located.
  • Open, airy and well overlooked. People will not use a facility where they feel unsafe.
  • Secure, against theft and vandalism.
  • Well laid out and easy to use. Plenty of locking points for different sizes and shapes of bikes.
  • Plenty of space to get bikes in and out without snagging on their neigbours or getting oil on clothing.
  • Have sufficient capacity.
  • Aim to have around 20% more spaces than the general peak number of users. Clean and well maintained.

2.2 What am I obliged to do?

Convenient, attractive, accessible, easy to use and secure
Workplace cycle parking

All new developments have to provide cycle parking levels stipulated in the planning guidance documents issued by the relevant Local Authority. Current standards can be found in the appendices.

Compounds or enclosures to contain cycle parking will often require planning permission. Planning permission for cycle parking may be required if:

  • It is in or near a conservation area or listed building
  • It is enclosed and within 20m of the highway or more than 3m high.
  • More than half the area of land around the original building would be enclosed in a new extension or out-building, or it will increase the volume of the original building by more than 15%.

You will not usually need planning permission for open stands. If in doubt contact the Planning Authority.

Stands in the highway must be agreed by the County Council. Contact the Engineering Manager at the Highways and Access team (currently Graham Lowe).

2.3 Who is it catering for?

Good stands

People sometimes have a narrow, stereotyped image of what a “cyclist” looks like. The reality is that people of all shapes, sizes and ages ride bikes.

Any cycle facility must be usable and attractive to the whole spectrum of likely users.

Typical User Particular needs
Residents Secure (at least a proportion of cycle parking in a locked compound), close to entrance, covered, overlooked.
Commuters Secure (ideally a locked compound), covered, overlooked. Convenient (<50m from entrance). Must not risk getting oil on clothing.
Shoppers Secure (open stands). Good support for bike. Convenient (<25m from entrance, ideally next to it). Room for loading, trailerbikes etc.
Safe from traffic. Easy to use
Children Well overlooked. Child sized stands. Easy to use. Safe from traffic.
Families Plenty of room for trailerbikes and luggage. Safe from traffic.
Frail or elderly Well overlooked. Plenty of room. Easy to use. Safe from traffic.

2.4 How much cycle parking do I need?

Good stands

There are two ways of assessing need. You can consult the planning guidelines in the Appendix or you can count bikes parked in the area. Bear in mind that:

  • Good quality parking will encourage more people to use it. Allow 20-50% extra spaces.
  • Current users may park some distance away if existing provision is poor or, more likely, go by car.
  • Workplace, school and personal travel plans will help predict the potential for growth.


2.5 How much land area do I need?

It is important to arrive at a realistic assessment of cycle parking capacity requirements and cater for expansion
Expansion needed

The area needed depends on the type of user, how the stands will be accessed (straight off the street or dedicated access), and the physical constraints of the site.

Situation Dimensions Area per bike
Stands only, access off street 2.0 x 0.5m space 1.0 m2
Minimum spacing Two 1.8m x 0.5m spaces plus 1.8m aisle 1.35 m2
Generous spacing Two 2.0m x 0.75m spaces plus 3-4m aisle 2-3 m2


2.6 Where do I put it?

Access path
Access paths should be light, open and attractive

Convenient cycle parking
Provision according to need, and
situated for users’ convenience

It is in everybody’s interests that more people cycle and fewer people drive. Cycle parking should therefore be positioned where it gives people an incentive to use it. It should be:

  • At ground level. Never more than one storey from ground.
  • As close as possible to the entrance. 25m max for short stay (shopping) or 50m for long stay (commuters).
  • No further from the entrance than the nearest car parking space.
  • In a prominent and well-overlooked location.

Residential cycle parking should be located within the individual property, as near as possible to the main entrance, in an area controlled by the owner or their family. In old residential areas and high density housing it can be difficult to balance the need for overnight security with the need for convenience. For terraced housing without rear access we recommend 75% in conveniently positioned open racks, 25% in secure compounds.

In many cases, different users have different needs and use different entrances. It will often be appropriate to split cycle parking accordingly. For example in a retail development, staff would want to use a covered, secure compound possibly to the rear of the store, while open racks at the front of the store would suit shoppers.

Residential cycle parking solution