Builders working on the @university_arms hotel in Cambridge have discovered they don’t have room to install the planned cycle parking racks in the basement so are asking councillors if “semi-vertical” racks would be OK for most of the spaces https://t.co/3L7HGOswbq @CamCycle pic.twitter.com/DV6fnnUeop
— Richard Taylor (@RTaylorUK) 11 March 2018
I have written to the council:
Cambridge City Council,
I note the council’s webpages for the application state:
“This notifies the Council of proposed work or development not needing its permission. The Council will not be approving or refusing the proposal, so comments are not invited. ”
This appears to be inappropriate boiler plate text as the application does appear to be seeking a decision on if the proposals are acceptable and meet the requirement of the planning conditions imposed.
I am concerned the proposed semi-vertical cycle parking racks will be hard to secure a bike to and will only be usable by those with the necessary strength and physical capabilities, and will not be suited to many bikes, such as those with rear mud-guards, or racks, extending beyond the rear or those with some types of basket/carrier.
There have been a number of comments on Twitter:
“They had those racks in my last flat. No one used them as intended. My wife’s bike didn’t fit as the mudguards got caught. You have to be strong to lift bike in. Instead everyone either just put their front wheel in or leaned their bike against the raised section. Waste of time.”
“As I am not very tall, I find it really difficult to push a bike up into a vertical groove – harder for bikes with baskets on the front.”
Cllr Amanda Taylor
“Oh I absolutely hated using those when I was a student. And a rower too so not exactly weak.”
“Not that I will ever be staying there, but my bike doesn’t fit those at all, and I am not strong enough to put it on it!”
“My bike wouldn’t go on there as its rear mudguard would get bent. Plus it’d be a hell of a job to lift it up there. And locking isn’t easy.”
“Many people who ride bikes, like me, find it extremely difficult to park a bike in the high racks at the station. This is another example of cyclists being discriminated against”
Cllr Dave Baigent
“Nonononono! Any racks with a wheel track risk warping the wheels as soon as anyone puts and pressure *cough* on them. The way people treat other people’s bikes is bad enough without another public anvil.”
“Those racks are great at breaking many rear mudguards!”
“One rack seems to be in a far corner of the car park away from the rest of the cycles and through a door. That will work well.”
Condition 25 requires the council to approve the “full details of the route to the cycle parking”. The information provided on the layout of the basement cycle parking does not in my view meet this requirement. I think the council needs to see details of signage both within the basement, on the exterior of the building, and elsewhere to direct people to the cycle parking. I also think the council should look at how access to the route is to be managed. If the ramp and door is locked, how will users, or prospective users, of the cycle parking gain access to it? Will access be available 24/7?
The council should consider what is intended to happen if a visitor to the hotel arrives by bike at the front doors. Are the railings around the hotel part of the bike parking facilities, or not, and how will this be made known to cyclists?
While the slope is very shallow consideration should be given to grip, especially in wet and icy weather.
In terms of the operation of the cycle parking facilities I would like to see the council request details on any signage to encourage use of the semi-vertical racks by those able to do so; leaving the Sheffield stands for others, and in particular any efforts to ensure any Sheffield stands suited for larger bikes, eg. cargo bikes, are made preferentially available for such bikes.
The provision of the Sheffield stands is a positive part of the proposal as, assuming they are adequately installed, they offer easy to use and secure cycle parking.
The presence of a ramp should not lead the council to automatically assume cyclists will be permitted and encouraged to use it; the council should take care to ensure a situation where cyclists are required to carry their bikes up and down steps does not occur.
I note some of the proposed cycle parking is accessed through a door into a “vent” room; the appropriateness of this and how easy access will be, and how users will discover these bike parking spaces should be considered.
I hope these are helpful comments and hope the council will be able to work with the applicants to ensure safe, easy to use, cycle parking is provided at the hotel for staff and visitors.