Cycling should be for everyone. But we’ve still got some way to go to ensure that cycle parking caters for all.
We’ve been in touch with Wheels for Wellbeing, a UK charity whose mission is to ensure that Disabled people can access the manifold benefits of cycling, and they’ve helped us outline the areas within cycle parking that need addressing.
“Accessible cycle parking is as important as accessible cycling infrastructure for Disabled cyclists,” say Wheels for Wellbeing
“If a Disabled cyclist cannot be sure that they will be able to leave their cycle somewhere secure when they reach their destination, cycling will be limited to leisure or exercise, rather than for everyday journeys.”
At Turvec, we know a thing or two about cycle parking, but we’re always looking for ways we can improve the usability of our products – making certain that cycling really is for all.
Sometimes, installations are driven more so by a previous design, or to simply fill a numbers requirement. We always look to work closely with clients to make sure we’re providing a quality, functional cycle store, and this includes removing barriers and improving our design for Disabled cyclists.
Cycle parking barriers and shortcomings
So what’s working, or not working, for Disabled cyclists?
“Stacked two-tier cycle racks are suitable solely for two-wheeled standard cycles and require upper-body strength and dexterity to use,” say Wheels for Wellbeing.
Despite good quality two-tier racks which employ a gas-strut to help with lifting, these racks are unusable for a number of Disabled cyclists. But, as Wheels for Wellbeing explain, it’s not just two-tier racks.
“Many forms of enclosed cycle parking – such as hangers, lockers, or larger secure cycle shelters – require a level of mobility and physical strength that a Disabled cyclist may not have (for example, the ability to open heavy metal gates, or push a cycle round a restricted space), or be located too far from the final destination,” say the charity.
On top of this, when the right parking is indeed provided, it’s frequently unavailable for those who really need it.
“Even if the provided cycle parking is accessible (for example, a Sheffield stand with sufficient room for a tricycle), if a Disabled cyclist arrives and finds the space occupied, they are unlikely to be able to secure their cycle to a nearby lamp-post,” say Wheels for Wellbeing.
Image credit: Trinity College Dublin
Dimensions and Spacing
All this means that proper consideration needs to go into designing cycle stores and cycle parking that can house non-standard bicycles, with the needs of Disabled people in mind.
This begins with getting the dimensions and spacing of racks and stands correct.
Typically, non-standard cycles are wider than standard bicycles. Wheels for Wellbeing state a distance of 1500mm is needed between stands to allow for dismounting. That’s wider than TfL’s recommended 1200mm spacing.
“This could be achieved by reserving the end bays in a row of Sheffield stands for non-standard cycles, provided that there are no other walls or street furniture restricting the space,” say Wheels for Wellbeing. “If using cycle hangers or lockers, wider lockers should be reserved for non-standard cycles.”
“Ideally, accessible cycle parking would provide sufficient room to allow a Disabled cyclist to enter, turn, and leave a parking bay without dismounting: most Disabled cyclists find cycling easier than walking, and may struggle to manually turn or lift their cycle.”
At Turvec, we’re looking into including branded cycle stands with integrated signage for accessible stands.
Making a cycle store accessible to all doesn’t require changing every rack or stand, instead there needs to be the right variety of parking solutions, with correct consideration put into spacing.
Ease-of-access is important for all cycle parking, but most importantly for Disabled cycle parking.
“Accessible cycle parking should be placed as close to the final destination as possible, for example next to the entrance of businesses or public transport interchanges,” say Wheels for Wellbeing.
For office cycle stores, which are often located in basements, that means ensuring the right lift access or ramp access if necessary, as well as functional wayfinding with accessible cycle parking in mind.
“The entrance to any parking space should be flush with the road surface or pavement, or be ramped; similarly, the route from the cycle park to the final destination should not include steps. On street parking should be next to dropped curbs,” add Wheels for Wellbeing.
Image credit: York Cycling Campaign
Non-standard cycles can be substantially more expensive than bicycles. And crucially, Disabled cyclists are more likely to rely on their cycle to stay mobile.
“Theft of or damage to a non-standard cycle is therefore both prohibitively expensive and prevents independent mobility for the cyclist, unlike loss or damage to a standard cycle,” say Wheels for Wellbeing.
The challenge comes in making gates and compounds secure, without preventing accessibility nor requiring upper body strength to open.
One way to increase accessibility while retaining security is to look at reducing the size and weight of gates. Using smaller gates and increasing the circulation space within the shelter will reduce the need for a large opening front gate.
Taking into account those core considerations – dimensions, accessibility, and security – should vastly improve cycle parking for Disabled people.
Additionally, Wheels for Wellbeing add that Disabled cycle spaces should be clearly delineated and reserved for Disabled cyclists, similar to Disabled car parking.
That will require engagement and action by the management company or employer too. More than simply design, spaces will need adding or adjusting to suit particular users if need be.
Signage used should also be in a clear, large font with a good colour contrast, and the area should be well lit. Ideally, a range of different stands would be included, to suit different cycles and their riders, say the charity.
“Accessible and inclusive cycle parking must be designed with the different dimensions of non-standard cycles and the needs of Disabled riders in mind,” say Wheels for Wellbeing.
With many thanks to Wheels for Wellbeing for talking to us, do visit their website for more information.