Thursday 18 February 2016

Cambridge Cycle Point - Britains first multi-storey bike park

I paid my first visit to Cyclepoint this morning, and I really liked some of what I saw.

Sorry, everyone else has been way more enthusiastic than I am about this. Don't get me wrong - its going to be really useful for commuters. And its a massive improvement on the bike racks that used to be under the linden trees on the edge of the old car-park, where (according to Cambridge urban legend) they placed the bike parks so that the aphid shit fell on them after motons repeatedly complained about sticky paintwork (yes, aphids shitting sugary stuff like rain from linden trees is a thing, look it up). We're not twisting our ankles on coarse gravel to squeeze into a space where there are no more spaces. Its immeasurably better than it was.

But I don't get why its what it is. Have a look at the video and think about it...

Access is currently through the area that seems to be an eternal building site around the station - its not clear that we'll be able to ride right up to the bike park when its done but I live in hope.

First things first - I don't want to dismount to enter a bike park. There it is. When its quiet there's plenty of room to ride in, its dumb to ask anyone to dismount. Would you tell motorists to dismount and push at the car park entrance? No? Well bugger off with your dismount sign, you're an idiot if you think thats worth having. 

You'll notice I was on my Elephant Bike, a big beast for sure but not an over-sized steed. As you'll see, all of the spaces on the ground floor which it was anticipated might be left for big bikes and old folk were full of pretty normal sized bikes. All of them. And they're ludicrously laid out, if you push a big bike round to find a space you'll be lucky to get it out without clattering other bikes. And this is when when we get to the most inexplicably silly part of the design. The stairs. 

Yes, the stairs. Stairs that have to be shallow enough so someone can push a bike up the ramp next to them, so they're shallow enough such that riding up really wouldn't be all that big a deal - stretch it out a little longer and it would be an absolute doddle to ride up and down them. But, no. Stairs. In a bike park. Presumably because we just can't have something that's indisputably good.

Upstairs its fair to to say that the raised racks are massively better than the old ones outside were - but to be honest a pile of bricks and a good spring would have been better than those. They're quite easy to use if you've a light-enough bike without a basket on it but in a million years I'd never get the Elephant up on it. There were some 'ordinary' slots free though, so I'd have been able to lock up had I needed to. Whether that'll still be the case as the place really picks up (after half term!) may be another matter!

So, not bad all things considered, and I'll look forward to it actually being finished. Very close to getting things just right - but there are some things that need to change.

Firstly, while I don't imagine it'll work I'd like to see some signs telling people to put lighter bikes up stairs and up on the higher racks, to leave some spaces for cargo bikes, big bikes, old folk, etc. Secondly, the lift-up racks will need maintaining in all sorts of ways that the outside lift up racks weren't. Moving parts are great if looked after. Thirdly I think the layout downstairs is failing already - you'd not build a car park such that its physically impossible to wheel a car out without clattering in to another, it makes no sense that to do so with bikes. 

But all in all? Massive improvement, a hugely needed facility and one that'll be interesting to watch in use. If only it wasn't for those bloody stupid stairs.

1 comment:

  1. I’m a cyclist whose bike was stolen from the Station Road CyclePoint this week (feb 2017). The station supervisor said that this was the fourth bike within the last two weeks and he was worried. He could not show me the CCTV but said that the police will view it.

    Local police have acquired the CCTV, but they now have a new policy according to which they will only watch the tape if the time between leaving and trying to retrieve the bike is less than 4 hours. My bike was at the CyclePoint for longer (overnight) - so they said they can’t do anything for me.

    I am very concerned about this. The CyclePoint was advertised and promoted as a safe space. Hardly any commuter leaves their bike for under 4 hours, which means that the CCTV is completely useless.