Wednesday 5 December 2012

New Bike Park! Right up These Stairs!

Firstly, thanks to Richard Taylor and Cambridge Cycling Campaign for live-tweeting last night the unveiling of plans for the new cycle park at Cambridge Station. Without Richard I worry we'd never have time to find out what the heck is happening in this city, and when it comes down to it attendance at this kind of thing and reporting happenings is something CCC do really well.

According to what developers are saying (and we all know that plans tend to degrade as these projects continue, e.g. Grand Arcade bike park, far smaller and more cramped than we were promised) we're going to have spaces for 3000 bikes. All under cover. Security guards. Free bike locking. Land of milk and honey. Opens half an hour before first train and closes half an hour after the last. Room to have access from Cambridge Stations central island direct via a bridge in the future. There will be spaces on the ground floor for tandems, recumbents, tricycles, etc. And to get to the upper two stories (yes, a three floor cycle park!) all you have to do is go up these stairs (or stairs very like them).

There's an old analogy for Linux OS. You discover a new airline - ample leg room, no hidden fees, helpful staff, simple but excellent food, your luggage brought straight out to you when you land, there are no queues, its perfect. But you have to assemble your own seat when you check in for the flight. Despite the fact that this is the best airline ever as far as you're concerned, all your mates respond with when you tell them is "What do you mean, you've got to assemble your own seat?".

Now the Campaign have been keen to point out that these stairs are rather like those already operating in the Netherlands. With wide ramps for pushing bikes up. Lovely. Super. Smashing. Great. But I'm assembling my own seat?

They're STAIRS. In a BIKE PARK. And yes, they're better than the absurdly steep steps on the cycle route behind the County Council office but why are they there? It's not part of the typical Cambridge cycling experience, but I gather people have been riding bikes up and down gentle inclines for quite some time without unexpected warp core breaches causing a rift in the space-time continuum. 

Its not that this new facility doesn't look way better than what we have (over-crowded bike locking on gravel, located where they are under the linden trees because motorists used to complain incessantly about the sap released from the leaves by aphids making a sticky residue all over their precious metal boxes). Its simply that its not as good as it should be. We're building this new, from scratch, in Cambridge; lets get it right. Just for once, can we not get the damn thing right. Fully right. Properly, unquestionably right. And no part of that could POSSIBLE entail wheeling your bike up or down stairs.

Bottom line; 'Cyclists Dismount and Push' signs have as much place in a bike park as 'Motorists Get Out and Push' signs have in a car park. Actually, considering who most needs the excercise, I'd have said the latter are MORE appropriate. No motoring lobby group would consider compromising on this point, its an absurdity. Will the cyclists of Cambridge be expected to put up with this crap? In a nutshell, why does Cambridge excel at cyclist facilities that are almost, but not quite, right?

UPDATE: Look, new mention of this from Cambridge Cycling Campaign. Come on guys, stop being so damned polite; you're not sure there's a valid health and safety reason to bar cycling in a cycle park? No, no, no. Its a stupid policy from developers who almost but don't quite get the point, an in itself it turns the entire scheme into something worthy of ridicule.

1 comment:

  1. "British shouldn't copy Dutch cycle infrastructure" shocker?

    As tweeted, there was a second reason other than the supposed health and safety reason of cyclists emerging at the exit.

    As people who actually attended the meeting heard, the first design iteration was for a much longer but narrower cycleable design (with lower capacity) with a less steep incline (which you need because not everyone is fit).

    But the effect of this is that you end up walking a longer distance having parked the bike, increasing the maximum time from 1m58s (yes, they have modelled the timings) to about 3 minutes. Some of that you would make up by cycling up, of course, but with the volume of bikes it seems to me that would be limited.

    Imagine making the brilliant (cycleable) Amsterdam station cycle park half the length (meaning more floors). It would be a challenge for many people to cycle such an incline:

    Am not particularly keen on the message of a cycle park that you walk in, and the time analysis needs to be checked, but there is at least some logic with a cycle park of this volume and throughput.

    Can anyone provide evidence on how many large Dutch cycle parks can be cycled up?

    PS Great that you say that this is almost "Land of milk and honey" - I see your tweet stream of 24 original tweets that night didn't have a *single* positive one giving anyone any congratulations on their work or even welcoming that a cycle park is at long last going to be provided. It was clear from everyone who attended that a large amount of thought and attention, not to mention study visits to cycle parks in the NL - something that cycle campaigners continually say that developers should do - had been put in.