28 January 2010

Parkinson's Law of Cycle Storage

Estate agent Ludlow Thompson have started putting prominent 'how to cycle here' links on properties advertised on their website. They seem quite keen generally on the bike thing, with positive bike features on their website. They're the first estate agent we've noticed that treats cycling as a significant factor for the buyer, and obviously we're all for it.

On similar lines, a recent article in the Independent reckoned that cycling convenience - mainly parking possibilities but also route access - is becoming more of a factor for buyers.

It points out that cycling levels in London have risen dramatically since 2000 "partly thanks to Government efforts", which is an interesting use of the word 'partly', and of the word 'efforts'. Now, it's the sort of article that comes round every few months and should be taken with a pinch of salt - which is about all our local council have left for the next cold snap - but it's something, I suppose.

Bike storage in London is a problem, especially in flats. We're all familiar with the hallway assault course, where you have to vault a Brompton, snake past a Dawes Galaxy, and limbo under the handlebars of a Dutch bike just to get to the bog.

In new buildings it's particularly bad: Southwark Cyclists' experience is that developers get away with providing as little bike storage as they can, with councils are reluctant to pressurise them. No doubt market forces would work better, so let's hope that house descriptions begin to make more of cycle storage possibilities where they exist, and make it a routine part of house details.

Was bike storage information provided on our house details, even though we are lucky enough to have a small outhouse perfect for the purpose? I don't know, and to get to the box in the cupboard under the stairs they're stored in, I'd have to shift cratefuls of old mudguards, spent inner tubes, worn saddles, disused handlebars, and tangles of oxidised ironmongery of no clear purpose. There must be a Parkinson's Law of domestic cycle storage: however much room you have, cycle stuff expands to fill the space available.


  1. I've got to say that actually the requirements for cycle storage in new flats are pretty good. It doesn't so much come directly from planning requirements (which are council directed) as from the need to achieve good BREEAM or Code for Sustainable Homes ratings

    BREEAM is the most widely used environmental assessment method for buildings and councils require minimum standards for all new buildings. Through requiring minimum BREEAM ratings, they are unintentionally making developers provide at least one secure, undercover space per unit - and often more as it's generally a relatively cheap/easy way to gain extra credits.

  2. Our house was definitely bought with cycle commuting in mind. In a village south of Cambridge such that I have a 4.5 mile commute into town and Mike has a 6.5 mile commute in the opposite direction. And there's a shed in which we store our bikes (and the related junk, and there's even room for the lawnmower). But the Estate Agent and the vendor didn't plug either of these aspects.

  3. Many new-build flats have very little storage space for anything.
    In flats the obvious way forward would be to have large (tall) cuboards in the downstairs hallway. This would allow for bikes as well as providing space above them (on a shelf) to store other stuff.

    Where I live (a house converted into two flats) we have had arguments about leaving bikes in the hall (even though its big enough and had been used for that for many years). So instead we take our bikes up and down the stairs every time. This must be noisy, espically when I have to leave at 6 in the morning.

  4. It’s great that Ludlow Thompson are providing cycle routes to the houses they’re dealing with, but I hope they’re also making sure that the tenancy agreements for the rented properties allow bike storage. Far too often tenancy agreements specifically disallow having bikes inside a flat (at least in the wording of the contract, even if not in practice). With often nowhere else to keep them it would be ironic if the estate agent helped you to ride to your new home, but not to keep the bike there.

  5. @Anonymous - thanks for that info on requirements. Unfortunately in practice they don't seem good enough - at least if my experience a couple of days after this post are anything to go by!

    It all seems a bit fishy to me, so perhaps BREEAM is an appropriate acronym.

  6. not in London, but the house I just bought was chosen in large part due to its cycle locker in back garden. Apparently (found out later), it was required to get planning permission.

  7. We've just moved into a new flat by the QPR stadium, and unfortunately I don't really have anywhere to store my bike, my girlfriend's a bit annoyed with it cluttering up the living room but I can't think of anywhere else I could put it. I think until we can afford to have a larger apartment, she's just going to have to get used to it. I agree with thereverent that it would be great if there were large cupboards in the downstairs hallways.