Cambridge City Council Lacks Imagination on Cycle Parking

Friday, May 1st, 2009. 2:52am

Existing situation - need for cycle parking
Cambridge City Council’s West/Central Area Committee on the 30th of April 2009 received a report from officers on progress towards installing cycle parking at the King Street – Manor Street junction.

Officers reported that they are working towards providing six wall mounted loops on the wall to which bikes can be locked.

The committee were told that wall mounted loops were the only option as standard “sheffield style” stands could not be installed due to the presence of tree roots.

I queried this and asked why a more innovative way of providing more standard cycle parking could not be looked into. I asked why it was not possible, for example, to install an array of stands which sits on top of the pavement (such as those used at Newmarket Road Tesco).

Cllr Rosenstiel was invited to respond as he is the designated “lead councillor” for this project. He explained that the proposals had been on the table for around five years. He said he had not made any comment himself on the proposals brought by officers as he was glad that at last something was being done. Having said that, he said he was bemused as there appeared to be lots of space available between the trees and the trees didn’t appear particularly close to possible locations for cycle parking. Cllr Rosenstiel was clearly exasperated by the situation, but given the officer’s advice he was of the opinion that it was best to just get on with it.

Council officer Dinah Foley-Norman spoke to me outside the meeting to explain her opinion that it was impossible to use a “floating” array of stands as there was nothing to bolt them to. The site is surfaced with bricks, and she explained you can’t bolt a rack to individual bricks or it will pull them out.

Cycle Parking at Newmarket Road Tesco, Cambridge

I suggested that even if only two substantive fixings (bollards) were used, one at either end of an array of stands, that would amount to many fewer holes than two per stand and might be acceptable. I was told that any holes at all in the area would not be permissible due to the tree roots. I think the council needs to be more imaginative and innovative with its cycling related projects, I can’t believe that there is no practical way of providing high quality cycle stands without damaging the trees. Ideas could still be sent to Cllr Rosenstiel.

The current situation is that council are negotiating with the landowner – Jesus College and King Street Housing who both need to agree before they can go-ahead with their proposals.

Other Cycling Related Items

Cycling was mentioned tangentially a number of times during the West/Central Area Committee:

  • During the policing item there was a report on the anti-social use of vehicles in the city centre; this had been a police priority. Enforcement was largely focused on private cars going where they shouldn’t and parking where they shouldn’t. It was reported that only about 10% of tickets were issued to taxis, though taxi drivers were feeling unjustly targeted. Cycle related “Anti-Social Behaviour” was also covered, there had been a focus on items such as cycling on Burleigh Street and Fitzroy Street when it is prohibited, cycling without lights, cycling on the footpath etc.
  • A member of the public asked about enforcement of cars going through red lights. He was particularly concerned about the East Road / Newmarket Road roundabout; he claimed that one purpose of such lights was to improve the safety of the roundabout for cyclists. He suggested that there ought be a greater focus on driving offences than things like cycling on Burleigh Street. The police confirmed that they were interested in tackling motorists going through red lights.
  • The police, represented by Sgt. Maggs, said there was no way of enforcing 20 mph speed limits; this being something to do with the calibration of the police’s LASER speed check devices at lower speeds. Councillors were so shocked at this revelation they made it solving this problem a local priority!! While it wasn’t mentioned at the meeting, I have observed discussions at the Transport Area Joint Committee where it has been pointed out that one reason for a 20 mph zone is that those caught at higher speeds, say over 40 mph would expect a more severe punishment than they would expect if caught doing the same speed in a 30 mph zone.
    Cllr Rosenstiel told the meeting that when the central 20 mph zone was brought in the county council agreed to enforce it themselves, with county officers. Taxis found speeding were to have their transponders for the bollards taken away, though he didn’t think this sanction had been used yet. Cllr Rosenstiel also said there was no effective analogous measure which could be used against speeding bus drivers.
  • The police reported the number of cycle thefts in March was the highest it had been for eighteen months. Councillors agreed with the police that cycle-theft should remain a priority. Encouraging the use of and carrying out stop checks on individuals acting suspiciously were the two ways the problem is being tackled that were mentioned. I wasn’t given any confidence the police really were taking this problem as seriously as it ought be, given the importance of cycles to Cambridge’s residents and increasingly visitors.
  • Funding for the Riverside works was discussed, councillors agreed to make a contribution despite it not being in their area. Cllr Reid and others said that connecting Stourbridge and Midsummer Commons with a pleasant safe cycle route would encourage more people from across the city to cycle.
  • Planning permission for 139 Huntingdon Road to become a student residence was approved subject to the provision of “covered, secure storage for at least 17 cycles” being provided. The accommodation is to comprise 16 student rooms and a flat. The applicants had not included this in their application; officers suggested it as a condition which was agreed by councillors.

Photographs from the Cambridge Cycling Campaign’s Photomap, licenced under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike licence. Click the photos to be taken to their photomap page.

14 comments/updates on “Cambridge City Council Lacks Imagination on Cycle Parking

  1. Richard Article author

    While listening to evidence gathering sessions of the Cambridgeshire Transport commission I have on a number of occasions heard local business people complain about the overzealous enforcement of Parking / Waiting / Loading restrictions in central Cambridge.

    I would have liked to see councillors seek assurances that the clamp-down they’d ordered on “anti-social use of vehicles” wasn’t affecting the ability of legitimate delivery drivers to do their jobs.

  2. Andrew

    I’d have to disagree with Richard’s comment on enforcement of loading. My commute takes me through the town centre, and I’ve frequently observed illegal parking by delivery vans causing dangerous situations for cyclists, particularly on Trumpington Street. Zealous enforcement of the rules is necessary to prevent the situation being worse than it currently is.

  3. Richard Article author

    Andrew, zealous is fine as long as everyone knows the rules; overzealous enforcement when the policies are unclear is not.

    The kind of problems reported to the Transport Commission arose from an apparent removal of discretion from parking attendants resulting in cases such as delivery people getting tickets while using loading bays to deliver items.

    If a delivery driver is to park in a loading bay, then deliver goods by hand cart we don’t want such activity deterred by a strict rule that no-one can park in a loading bay, even if they are loading, for more than say fifteen minutes. (That’s the kind of thing which is apparantly happening)

    People getting tickets for legitimate use of loading bays is what was reported.

    All I’m asking for is the police/council when setting the policy to be applied by the parking attendants to consider the views of those trying to run and service business in the city centre.

  4. Dan H

    I’d really hate for the Tesco-style bike stands to be used for any Council-sponsored parking. They’re far too lightweight, and the small bolts that hold them down have a tendency to come undone. The triangular shape is also inconvenient to lean your bike against. If one of these were used in a public place not covered by CCTV I’d give it no more than six months before one of the pro bike thieves comes along in a Transit, unbolts the thing from the ground, and drives it off bikes and all.

  5. Richard Article author

    I agree the Tesco’s implementation is awful; I think theirs wasn’t even bolted down originally, and then has had to be re-affixed after it eventually was.

    There’s no reason the bars along the floor have to be raised above the bricks, they could chased into the brick – there’s no chance of damaging the tree roots at that level.

    There’s no reason the cycle stands on an array of racks have to be triangular – they could be n shaped.

    I agree bolts are not substantial enough; that’s why I was suggesting a couple of bollards to fix the rack to. You could even have a rack attached to a couple of bollards and fixed to the building – I would have thought that either option would provide enough fixing points to secure an array of stands.

    For example imagine something like one of the below :
    Toast Rack Cycle Parking    Toast Rack Cycle Parking

    The bars connecting the hoops could placed in recesses in the brick pavement and covered. There is no need for any visible difference to the user with this approach compared to standard Sheffield style cycle parking hoops.

    A custom made rack could be made with a plate allowing fixing to a wall as well as the ground.

    I think there are solutions which could be found.

  6. Andrew


    I agree to some extent, clearly businesses need goods delivered. However, overstaying in loading bays isn’t without harm. I imagine some of the illegal parking is due to the loading bays being occupied when the van arrives, which could be reduced if there was good throughput on the bays.

    Partly I’m also irritated by the attitude of delivery companies, who seem to treat parking tickets as just part of the cost of doing business, to be minimised but not an inherent problem. Evidence for this is implied by things like – the second page claims 3663 (whose vans seem a frequent offender) gets 1000 tickets per month. I can only assume that this is less costly than employing more people to unload the vans more quickly.

  7. Sheila von Rimscha

    re the cycle racks at Tescos, these are some of the worst designed racks I have come across. In particular they are useless if you have a bicycle with a largish basket (the rack gets in the way of the basket) – a fact you woud think Tescos would have thought of themselves, since it is presumably in their interests for bike users to have large baskets!

  8. Anne Garvey

    Well at least Tesco has a set of bike stands. Try stopping outside Homebase, Habitat and the rest of them and there is no sign of a bike rack.

  9. Richard Taylor Article author

    “Progress” on the cycle parking at the spot on King Street – Mannor Street was reported to the West Central area committee on the 21st of June 2011 – over two years since I wrote the original article.

    Councillors were told some progress was being made getting the necessary agreements in place and they were now waiting on Jesus College – who they are dealing with through their agents.

    Cllr Rosenstiel called on anyone with contacts at Jesus College to urge them to respond to the council.

  10. Richard Taylor Article author

    At the West/Central Area Committee on the 3rd of November 2011 the committee approved the fixing of six D shaped cycle parking hoops to the wall of the building.

    Councillors said this process had taken seven years.

    I, Cllr Whitebread, and Bev Nicholson, all asked for cycle stands on the area of ground (which is to be resurfaced) to also be considered.

    Council officer Mr Preston insisted that cycle stands need to be anchored at least a foot deep underground and require hefty concrete foundations. He said that the presence of the trees, which are not owned by the council, made this impossible on the site.

    Councillors shockingly said that demand for cycling parking in this area was only “moderate”, they suggested the six parking spots would be more than sufficient. They said they were only there to serve a couple of shops.

    I was surprised, councillors have clearly not been to see King Street during busy periods in recent years. The noodle bar, pubs, cafes, restaurants, etc. all bring a large number of people, many of them on bikes, to the area. Cycle parking is much needed.

    Cllr Whitebread did a valiant job of trying to explain to Mr Preston my idea of using the toast-rack style stands, with the horizontal, structural bars chased in just below the surface, but Mr Preston said this would not be a robust enough arrangement for the location.

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