17 March 2010

Bike parking sprouting in spring

Now that spring is here, Plantlocks - those rather pleasant cycle-parking flower-tubs - seem to be sprouting all over the place.

I was pleased to see this pair in Danbury St in Islington, turning a single-yellow car parking spot (in other words, a car parking spot) into space for several bikes and lots of geraniums.

I was even more pleased to see this one solve the previous bike-parking problems outside the Wetherspoon's pub off Lincoln's Inn Fields.

Things are still pretty dismal overall though. Here's our local supermarket (Kennington Tesco) the other morning. There is a bike rack provided, but it's too far away. Unless a rack is right outside, the convenience of railing will always win out.

And here's Paddington station a couple of days ago. As far as I can see from its web page, there's supposed to be 158 bike parking spaces, which clearly isn't enough and they're always full. Not much chance of finding a place quick if you have a train to catch.

There was talk last year of whizzy hi-tech bike parking being installed here for 1,000 bikes... hmm. How much space would 500 Plantlocks take up? And you'd have a fabulous show of spring flowers.


  1. I do like the idea of Plantlocks, and am wondering whether I should get one to put outside my house. I was wondering how secure they are. Would it be possible to tip them over so all the earth spills out and then toss the bike and empty Plantlock into a van? Or are they fixed to the ground?

  2. My second question is answered by Plantlock's own literature, which states "When fixing down is needed, drainage holes in the base of PlantLock can be used to bolt or screw to the ground.

    However they also say that "PlantLocks are generally used without ground fixing". Ease of installation is clearly their big attraction. However, when not fixed to the ground, can they be tipped over?

  3. They can be tipped over, and have been - we saw at least one in Kennington Park disappear in this way.

    While I'm not worried about the one in our own front yard - the worst threat comes from the digging activities of a local cat - I'd hope that the Plantlock outside the Wetherspoons pub shown in the post, for instance, is fixed to the ground.

  4. We (the cambridge cycling campaign) actually did some counting of bikes at Cambridge station last week. As well as counting how many people each 15 minutes took their bikes onto the trains, and how many people each 15 minutes parked or removed a parked bike from the bike racks, someone went round at lunchtime and counted total bikes: answer, of the order of 1200, in racks intended for around 800.

    It's no wonder I know people who won't cycle to the station because they won't get parked, or fear they might get their bike damaged due to man-handling because of the overcrowding, or come back and find it blocked in beyond their ability to remove it.

    Cambridge definitely needs more frequent culling, as some bikes are clearly abandoned, but given the obviously repressed demand that won't be enough to solve the problem.

  5. Since most bike theft is opportunistic, emptying PlantLock's of their earth and plants isn't an easy option; and the bike(s) are still securely locked to the planter, so no cycling away. In reality, it's too hard work.
    When taking delivery of their PlantLock at home, the reality of the weight of the full planter means cyclist generally don't choose to use any ground fixings.
    We've had no reports of PlantLocks failing to keep a bike safe in the 3 years of existence (and there are lots of them in cyclist's front yards/gardens, as well as in public places). But as ever, good locks/locking practice is the key.

    Hope that's useful.

    Duncan / Front Yard Company (PlantLock's designers/producers)