Getting more bicycle parking near you–how hard can it be?


Cycling down Swiss Cottage high street in North London and ticking off various errands as I’ve done so many times before I pondered a question. How hard could it be to get my local council to install some new bicycle parking here? I’m sure lots of London Cyclists have pondered this question. Perhaps, it’s outside your office where you can only find a lamppost to attach your bike to or near your favourite pub in Soho. I’m always annoyed that there is nowhere to secure a bike near Ain’t Nothing But (careful, video automatically plays on this link).

Surely, all the council have to do is; inspect the site, make sure there are no cables running under the ground where the bicycle stand would go and then plonk it in. Hey presto, you’ve got an extra two bicycle parking spaces for years to come at a minimum cost.

With this question occupying my thoughts I hatched a crazy experiment. I want to see how on earth I can get the council to take this seemingly easy piece of action. After all, our councillors are always telling us they work for us. Plus, the experiment is likely to benefit fellow London Cyclist’s who may have identified similar situations where there seems to be a lack of bicycle parking.

Now, I’m not 100% sure how to proceed. If I was in New York all I would have to do is go online and suggest a new location. This facility doesn’t exist in London. So I guess my first point of call is the local council.

The location I’ve identified looks like this:

The location of the cycle parking plus some pleasant old people

Which is around about here:


Swiss Cottage high street is generally a car friendly area with little provision for pedestrians or cyclists. As you can see it’s not the most appealing high street in Britain to walk around and crossing to other side involves crossing a busy A road.

The area has provision for car parking at the expense of a quicker bus journey and a safer cycling route:

Cars parked in the bus lane

Above we can also see the last attempt of a new bicycle parking location which is looking rather drab.

The A41 which runs through Swiss Cottage would theoretically be a good place to add a cycle superhighway. However, at the moment this is not being considered.

There is obviously a need for some additional cycle parking as the next nearest racks are some distance away and full. Cyclist are leaving their bikes on other street furniture:

Bicycle parking full near tube station

I’ll let you know how my little Swiss Cottage experiment goes. Perhaps it will be quick and easy or perhaps 6 months from now we will still be waiting for a new bike rack.

Got any tips for me or think this is a good / stupid idea – leave a comment!

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15 Responses to Getting more bicycle parking near you–how hard can it be?

  1. Mike Smith 30/08/2010 at 9:39 am #

    Good luck Andreas.

    When I lived in a town, it took the local authority over six months to decide they couldn’t afford the – wait for it – £4500! – to put in a waste bin!

    Apparently, although they are paying the salaries of the councillors, office staff, surveyors, labourers, lawyers and so on involved in the process, the cost of all those people’s time has to be added on to the 50 quid the bin would actually cost, bringing the total up to that £4500.

    But maybe you’ll get lucky, since Boris is doing so much (sic) for London cycling.


    • Andreas 30/08/2010 at 8:18 pm #

      Horrendous case of a £50 bin costing £4500. Had me laughing out of my chair. Not an encouraging story for the start of my mini-campaign!

  2. John Ackers 30/08/2010 at 10:13 am #

    Islington Council fairly regularly asks ICAG where we want new cycle stands, individuals do respond and the council keeps one or more lists. The council has responded over recent years and put in many stands where there’s plenty of space e.g. on street corners but they are not usually where we want them e.g. outside supermarkets and tube stations. The usual fairly lame argument is that there isn’t enough space. A background problem is that councillors did set targets for new cycle stands (and probably had TfL funding to install them) but the target that’s equally important is utilisation.

    • Andreas 30/08/2010 at 8:19 pm #

      John, interesting to hear your story. And I think it’s true that the target just specifies how many but not considering how well they are used. Perhaps Camden council will be helpful though I know Islington have a good cycle friendly reputation.

  3. LTMWB 30/08/2010 at 11:27 am #

    Perhaps local councils in this country should look how the Dutch don’t treat cyclist as second class citizens, put in plenty of bike parking make cycle lanes safe lanes, anyway rant over.

    Good luck with your excellent idea

  4. Mike 30/08/2010 at 12:05 pm #

    Fantastic Andreas – I live round the corner from there and have always been disappointed at the lack of provision for cyclists on that route.

    On a related note, I have a vague memory of Camden council claiming they were going to put the Cyclehoop ( all round the borough, which surely would be a lot cheaper and quicker than digging up the pavement.

    • Andreas 30/08/2010 at 8:21 pm #

      True, I’ve not seen it implemented anywhere in Swiss Cottage. However, there aren’t so many columns that I think the cyclehoop would fit on. I’ve seen it on the actual Camden high street however.

  5. Mike 30/08/2010 at 12:09 pm #

    Here’s some more info re: the cyclehoop:

  6. Larry Blakely 30/08/2010 at 5:45 pm #

    Business idea: secure the rights to the rack location, add an advertising platform, give first month’s ad to nearby store front, then sell ads for future revenue. Bus stops here in the states sell ad space on their sides. Seems reasonable that a sign could be above a bike rack for the same purpose. Go hi-tech, use meters but give the users coupons back worth more than the parking – revenue stream for rack, target audience for advertisers, rebate for users.

    Wish I had the time to pursue this in the states. Where I live we desperately need to encourage cycling.

    • Andreas 30/08/2010 at 8:22 pm #

      There is currently a bit of a backlash against licensing spaces for advertisers. Considering the cycle hire scheme has been so heavily branded by Barclays

  7. Iain 01/09/2010 at 1:26 pm #

    “How hard can it be” – a line usually spoken by a certain Mr Clarkson on Top Gear, normally just before proving just how tricky it is! More places to safely park bikes are always needed, bikes that can’t use the existing racks because they’re full are seen as a nuisance rather than an opportunity.. Of course, I suspect on Sunday you’ll be able to lock your bike up on any fence in St James’ Park without any problems (well, assuming you can find a space!).

    • Andreas 01/09/2010 at 2:52 pm #

      Good old Crackson, maybe he was my inspiration for that quote! Another thing I might tackle is abandoned bikes.. spotted some that have been in Camden for a while!

  8. AdamS 03/09/2010 at 10:55 am #

    My local high street is very dependent on trade from other areas for its existence, which is why I think the council is unwilling to remove the on-street parking in favour of better journey times.

    With that in mind, maybe you could cook up some cost-benefit case around the notion that more cycle parking will attract more shoppers, who will spend more money because they’re happy they could park so easily and didn’t have to take the car. Or something.

  9. Tim 04/09/2010 at 3:35 pm #

    The way local council budgets work April -March, this years budget will already be allocated however at the end of a financial year there are usually small pots of unspent money which they are looking to get rid of. Council departments don’t like having money left over it signals that they were given too much and therefore makes bidding for the next year difficult.

    Therefore January is a good time to lobby for small cost improvements to mop up those bits of spare cash. Failing that a long term lobbying stratgegy with a named officer is the most productive way forward. It is easier for a pressure group such as the local LCC group to do this as they usually have the relationships built up already.

    It will be interesting to see how an individual gets on. Good Luck!

  10. Caroline 06/09/2010 at 8:59 am #

    TfL is giving away cycle parking, cycle training and cycle maintenance sessions to businesses near the new CSH routes completely free! Why use on-street parking if you can get your workplace to have their own? 🙂

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