This is part 4 in my series of posts looking at Waltham Forest Mini-Holland, looking at cycle parking.
The other posts can be found here:
Having a safe and convenient places to cycle is certainly key to enabling people to cycle more or getting people who don’t ride onto a bike. Coming a close second has to be having convenient and secure places to park your bike at destinations people want to go to. So this post is all about that, cycle parking. Whether it’s at home, work, school or the shops.
Waltham Forest currently has seven cycle hubs located in borough. Judging by the locations, they seem to be primarily focused on those looking to use a bike as part of a multimodal commute.
The cycle hubs cost £25 a year to use, and have secure key fob entry, CCTV etc. They’re very similar the TfGM cycle hubs we have in Greater Manchester, but with a different pricing structure and fewer facilities than some of the cycle hubs. Most of the TfGM cycle hubs start at £10 a year to use, but go up to as much as £200 a year for the city centre and MediaCityUK hubs, which also have lockers and showers.
While I don’t have a problem with these type of cycle hubs as such, I do think they have limited appeal, specifically for the more the serious ‘cyclist’ rather than someone who rides a bike. I also wonder if the money could be better invested in cycle parking that appeals to more casual users or on cycling infrastructure in general. Certainly, if you look to The Netherlands, this type of cycle parking came after there was already safe places to cycle and there was clear demand for cycle parking.
I’d love to see the type of parking that’s so common in The Netherlands, here in the UK. Such as the cycle parking we used in Utrecht last summer. This is mostly free to use and you can just turn up without having to apply for membership.
Resident cycle parking
I don’t think you can overestimate the importance of resident cycle parking when it comes to enabling everyday transport cycling. Unless you have the luxury of living in a large house or have a garage, then finding somewhere to store your bike at home is probably a problem. This is even more of an issue if there’s steps involved or you have a non-standard bike like a cargobike.
As usual, The Netherlands have this sussed. Many properties have access to secure cycle parking, either dedicated or shared between a number of properties. For those that don’t, there’s usually access to residential parking in the street. Often, this is uncovered, so it helps here to have a Dutch bike that’s designed to cope with being out in all weathers.
Bikes in the UK tend not to be as robust as Dutch bikes, so some kind of cover is often required. Also, I’d say people in the UK are probably a bit more wary about leaving their pride and joy in the street (funny that it doesn’t phase most car owners). This is where secure and covered cycle storage like Cyclehoop’s Bikehangars come in.
Bikehangars are about the size of half a parking space and are installed on the road. They provide residents with secure and covered cycle storage, via key access and cost £20 a year to use, with a £25 key deposit. They’re straightforward to use and provide convenient storage, enabling people to use their bikes more often.
According to Enjoy Waltham Forest’s resident parking page, over 110 Bikehangars have been installed since 2015 (actually, I’ve been told in the We Support Waltham Forest Mini Holland Facebook group, this is actually now 220), with over 3,500 requests from residents to use a Bikehangar or have one installed near them, so they’re proving popular.
I’d love Bikehangars to be a common sight here in Greater Manchester. I’m aware that Salford City Council have a similar scheme, but it’d be great to see this rolled out further. Having convenient access to your bike can have a significant impact to how much you use it, particularly for shorter journeys. So having convenient access to bike storage can only be a good thing.
On-street cycle parking
Another key to enabling people to cycle more often, particularly for shorter trips, is having access to plenty of on-street cycle parking, where people need it. We’re talking about town centres, shopping parades and schools.
As part of the Mini-Holland scheme, plenty of on-street cycle parking has been introduced across Waltham Forest. Some of this parking is quite elaborate, like outside Noor Ul Islam School. Elsewhere, it’s as simple as Sheffield Stands. Outside shops, at modal filters or shopping parades.
All this on-street cycle parking is really great to see. When it comes to enabling cycling, having straightforward on-street cycle parking is easily overlooked. The lack of it can mean people choosing not to go into shops because they can’t park, or even leaving their bike at home and taking a car.
In Greater Manchester, TfGM were keen to throw money at the flagship cycle hubs, while completely ignoring on-street parking. What little cycle parking their was, was often taken up with motorbikes or abandoned bicycles.
Things have improved recently, particularly the city centre and Oxford Road, though it’s now quite common to see Mobikes taking up space. In Trafford, on-street parking is still pretty woeful. I suspect there’s more on-street cycle parking just on Francis Road than there is in the whole of Stretford.
Back to part 3 – Modal filters