27 March 2009
Raising the Standard for bike parking
Bike parking seems to come in all shapes and sizes, most of them not very good ones. We're all familiar with the flimsy supermarket coat hanger, the toast-rack designed to bend schoolkid wheels, or the overdesigned sculpture that looks great and witty but is actually impossible to lock up to properly. There seems no standard.
Indeed there isn't. British Standards, signified by the kitemark, exist for 27,000 things from specifications of fire hose couplings (BS336) to the vocabulary of terms used in software testing (BS7925-1, though I couldn't find most of the words I use when testing software).
And mathematicians among you will be pleased to know that BS0 is the British Standard for British Standards. (You might need logs for more meta-levels, or minus-infinity, or Cantor dust, or something. I must have been away when we did that.)
But there is no British Standard for cycle parking... yet.
Southwark Cyclists, however, are on the case, and are working to produce one with the British Standards Institute; the Jill Dando Institute at University College, London; and the Design Against Crime Unit at Central St Martins.
Of course everyone hates standardisation and we are all individuals, as we'd all rush to confirm with a reference to the same joke in the Life of Brian. But it's British Standards that have made credit cards a predictable shape and size, for instance. (Which is a bit of a pain, as they all look the same and you end up trying to pay for a wine box in Tesco's with your library card, but you know what I mean.)
It'll take a year or so to produce a working standard (and bike locks are apparently part of the project, too), but we think this is an excellent, practical example of making things a bit better for cyclists one step at a time.
Now, a British Standard for cycle-campaigning: that might be trickier.