01 February 2010

Flat feeling: Not enough bike parking in newbuild

The other day I was on about the bike parking space provided in new flats being terrible. One commenter, who clearly knows more about rules and regs than me, suggested the requirements on newbuild were actually pretty good.

Hmm. Well, if yesterday was anything to go by, I was generous in my assessment. We were out visiting, up in Islington, near Clissold Park. And this (right) was the hallway of the recently-built flats in Myddleton St. On our visit there were ten bikes there, and this isn't unusual.

The pokey cupboard just visible to those with good eyes at the right of the bottom picture is, apparently, 'the bike parking'. You can just about get two bikes into it, though you could probably stretch that to three if you could persuade residents to commute by unicycle instead.

There's nothing outside you can lock anything to, though there are several car spaces immediately outside (not all used). Turning over just one of them would have provided secure parking for all of these bikes. If this is line with rules and regs, then the rules and regs are clearly not good enough.

Great fun for the kids who live there, though, who have a ready-made set of climbing frames, and don't therefore need to go to Clissold Park.

Now, Islington kids are brighter than average, like all kids. So, on the basis that some of them will fulfil their promise and grow up to be architects, developers and politicians, let's hope those formative clambering experiences will encourage them to make things better in future.


  1. Note to the dozier readers of the Guardian bike blog, before they comment: "brighter than average... like all kids" is what we writers call a 'joke'. I'm perfectly aware of how averages work. I'm also perfectly aware of how mums work.

  2. Cambridge is also very below average in this respect - depressing.

  3. A good post Rob - it shows the difference between planning rules and the eventual outcome / reality - that is to say developers are greedy b*stards who will do anything they can to get away with doing as little as possible to ensure their profit margins.

    I suspect this scenario is all too common, and if I lived there I'd be getting on to the residents committee to turn some of those unused car parking spots over to bike parking before the fire brigade come and take all those hall-parked bikes away...

    There definitely needs to be more joined up thinking about providing as much bike parking in the Boroughs as there is in the city.

  4. It's not clear to me whether this is council, housing association or private housing. I don't think private developers are obliged to provide any cycle parking inside communal areas in new developments, that's quite an obligation but an interesting thought.

    Islington Council has installed secure, locked, covered parking on 2 or 3 estates and want to hear from others that want it. Islington Council is also interested in piloting on street cycle parking. Keep in mind that Islington residents rarely give up parking spaces and councillors listen to the majority.

    John Islington Cyclists Action Group

  5. Up here in Cambridge, new residential developments are supposed to provide one "covered, lockable" cycle parking space per bedroom, plus "some level of visitor cycle parking". In practice the rules are poorly enforced and provision is highly variable.

    P.S. The street Rob mentioned is actually in LB Hackney. The kids are above average there as well.

  6. The requirements on newbuild might be pretty good. But they would need to be enforced by someone (councils).

    I also think there is probably a gap between what a cyclist considers a space for one bike and what a developer thinks it is.

  7. In a new block at the bottom of the Stratford End of Bow Flyover, there's what looks like dozens of bikes hanging from their front wheels in the car park, all nice and secure. So it can be done. I've read (in the Standard I think) that some developers now actually list bike parking as a feature.

  8. I don't think private developers are obliged to provide any cycle parking inside communal areas in new developments

    It depends on the council/local planning authority, and the type of permission to build that the developers were given. As others have said, enforcement is perhaps just as important as regulation in this respect, although BREEAM/etc codes are helping bring developments up to standards as bike parking is a 'cheap' way of gaining a good score (which is often necessary for development, either from the client or local authority).

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  10. @josh - I didn't realise it depended on the council. But definitely it is the enforcement (which will vary from council to council) that determines the quality of the final solution.

    My limited experience suggests that developers will often get away with providing space for the bikes, but not the realistic space needed to get them in and out.

  11. we have just had a letter from our landlord requesting we move the childrens bikes that are under a stairwell as it is a communal area, yet all 4 of the families who live here use the stair well and there isn't a problem to us, just to them, they really wont budge, our flats are too small to accomodate bikes and there is surely a safety issue getting children to carry them up two flights of stairs.

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