Cycling in London has boomed since March 2020. Over the first Covid lockdown bike shops across London stayed open – deemed as essential – and most ended up with a shortage of bikes thanks to demand outpacing supply.
But more bikes has meant many are struggling with where to conveniently keep their bikes. If you live in a terrace house with no outdoor space, where do you keep your bicycle? Many are faced with this problem, including members of the Turvec team.
As a result, the Clean Cities Campaign asked for social media users to submit examples of where they’re keeping their bicycles, with many left in bathrooms, bedrooms, or stairways.
So, how can our towns and cities tackle this issue?
60,000 waiting for hangar spaces
As well as collating examples of London’s bike storage woes, the Clean Cities Campaign also submitted a freedom of information request finding waiting lists over 60,000 across the capital for bike hangar spaces.
Bike hangars are on-street shelters that usually take the place of a car parking space. They are rented out to users for roughly 120 to 150 pounds per year and provide a smart retrofit solution for Victorian terrace housing.
However, with demand soaring for spaces, it is becoming increasingly clear that more can be done to provide secure parking for Londoners.
Image credit: Cycle parking at Buckingham Palace Road, West London
Cycle parking and the built environment – Think bigger?
While hangars work very effectively within areas like inner London boroughs, maybe it is time to think bigger.
Examples the Netherlands show how larger (much larger!) cycle parking facilities can tackle cycle storage more holistically. They have the potential to become active mobility hubs for the whole city ecosystem, rather than just on-street locker space.
The recently redeveloped House Modernes in Utrecht features a 900 space bicycle parking basement open to the public. It sits on one of Utrecht’s busiest streets and is beneath a shopping centre and co-working space.
It provides an example of bike parking connecting different parts of the city by bike. No longer just at train stations, these facilities serve active travellers within the and around the city.
Because the facility allows people park their bicycles 24/7 (yearly passes are available), there’s potential for these hubs to be used in conjunction with hire bicycles and other transport to avoid the need for bike storage at home.
Within densely populated areas, could several large active mobility hubs help more people park their bikes conveniently?
By centralising cycle parking this way, you have the ability to provide bike repair services, non-standard parking, e-bike charging, e-scooter hire, and even more.
Image credit: House Modernes, Utrecht. Credit: Dmitri Levin studiosk
Should the onus be on landlords and developers?
Answering more immediate demand, we are seeing landlords and developers thinking ever more seriously about cycle parking.
At St George’s Fields, a post-war council estate in West London, we helped design and install three timber shelters to answer growing demand for bike storage. Within days of opening the shelters were full and provide residents much easier and secure access to their cycles. This helps illustrate that period properties created before cycle parking planning requirements are capable of making changes.
New residential and built-to-rent developments are continuing to install bike parking for the future, with more projects including both e-bike charging points and well-built, durable shelters to help entice tenants for years to come.
You could argue that the 60,000 long list for secure bike storage is a sign of cycling’s rapid growth in London, and while we’d agree to an extent, it is important to provide this cycle parking space now if we are to fully unlock active travel in urban environments.