Wednesday 3 February 2016

New Cycle Park - Epic fail bodge job.

I know, it was the day before Groundhog Day that I last touched on this subject, and its the day after now. Sorry. I let myself down. 

Regarding the opening schedule for the new multi-storey bike park at the train station I'm not the only one to think that Greater Anglia are muppets.

This should be good, it should be a gloriously good bit of publicity for Greater Anglia and a fine day to be a cyclist in Cambridge (well, other than the fact that its strangely out of the way and you've got to take your bike up stairs raher than ride up a slope) - but it isn't. Instead we've got a hurried change-over from a crap temporary facility to a nowhere near completed new bicycle park. Seriously, its not even close to being finished.

We've got a temporary cycle park rated for 1,260 spaces but which is frequently over-full, replaced with only 1,500 spaces in the not-finished new park - so its a small increase, but not an increase at all if the cyclists currently using every last railing near the station are instead shoved into there. And they will be - our coppers are already colluding with developers to move bikes near the station on the most vague pretexts. The temporary facility is being closed down at 10:00PM on the 15th of February. The new cycle park opens at 6:00AM on the same day - meaning that people arriving earlier on that day will not be able to lock bikes up anywhere because they'll be removed. It also means that anyone who regularly has a multi-modal (train-bike) commute who isn't working that day is boned.

There's meant to be a bike shop. That isn't opening for months. The type of two-tiered bike parking installed has been changed with no consultation. The hotel is months away... Seriously, why open this, at all, now? What have cyclists done to earn your wrath guys?

This isn't an imagined, theoretical problem. This will cause a lot of inconvenience for a lot of people.

So you're all wondering, why?

Why would a train company involved in building a great big cycle park (1) cock it up and open it little bit at a time, and (2) use the opening of this place as an opportunity to pick a fight with cyclists?

The simple answer is nobody knowsThe part of their website that should give us details is now dead.  I'm told that they're not answering emails from Cambridge Cycling Campaign. They're directing people to contact their customer services for advice, clearly because telling people to give some sap in their call centre a hard time over something they're in no way empowered to do anything about is better than, oh, I don't know, not being a dick to your customers.

Either they've got bulldozers coming in to the temporary bike park the very next morning, in which case they've engineered a changeover so badly that I wouldn't trust them to organise a toddlers sock drawer, or they're just being dicks to their customers. Come on Abellio Greater Anglia - which is it?

UPDATE: I've just got off the phone with Abelio Greater Anglia press office. They've promised to call me back. Does anyone have any questions to ask if/when they do?

UPDATE 2: A nice chap called Paul from Abelio Greater Anglia just called me back.

I'm rather afraid that the news isn't all good. But its not all bad either.

They maintain that they've not consulted on the two-tiered stands but that the ones they've chosen are 'more premium', allowing more secure bike locking to answer the concerns from the Cycle Campaign. I put it to him that perhaps they could have consulted, he said that a letter to the Campaign is in the works. Consultation after-the-fact isn't particularly useful, but never mind. After the debacle of two-tier racks in the temporary bike park I remain highly sceptical that the new racks will be good - and anyone who's had to help other cyclists get bikes down that are jammed above their head height will probably agree with me.

Regarding the short changeover, they're putting notices up. And you can email their customer services. And there'll be some people on the ground advising. This, for me, is the really contentious issue. Unless you're a bike-politics nerd or you use the station every day you could very easily turn up on, say, the 12th or 13th to go away for a few days and only discover at the very last minute that if you leave your bike there it'll be taken away. Paul explained that they don't own the land that the temporary bike park is on, and that the developers need access the next day - hence bringing forward the opening of the new bike park incomplete. But I do feel that its the ordinary, bike riding customers who are being squeezed out in this.

Bluntly, there is no distinction between long and short stay bike parking - they're the same place. The long-stay folk turning up in the run up to this changeover will have problems. I tried calling their customer service number and my advice to you is don't - never ending options on an automated system, none of them appropriate for bike parking.

This could have been good. In my view, it remains a hell of a bodged transition process. Its perfectly feasible that people will get caught out, and it is eminently foreseeable that this could happen. All I can suggest is get out and tell your friends and colleagues that this is going to happen - it oughtn't be necessary, but at this stage what other choice do we have? 


  1. It's possible they are re-using the existing cycle stands in the new building, which is why the want to get them emptied ASAP.

    If that's the case, there's a problem with the fact that the existing racks have been shown to be - to put it mildly - not robust, meaning bikes can be stolen. They even say so themselves in the news article you link to.

    If the new building is as incomplete as that (where is that info from? I haven't seen it), they may fear they will never get the racks emptied, because people will keep on using them if the Cyclepoint it full. Or if they simply can't find the Cylepoint and don't know it is there, which is possible given the quality of their signage for the ever-changing layouts during construction.

  2. "Paul explained that they don't own the land that the temporary bike park is on, and that the developers need access the next day - hence bringing forward the opening of the new bike park incomplete."

    So, they have been unable to manage their project so that the new cycle park was ready before they lost use of their temporary cycle parking, and the consequence of this is that they will be cutting locks off the bikes of people who do what they normally ask cyclists to do, which is store bikes at the train station rather than take them on trains?

    I'm sorry, this may explain why it is happening, but it doesn't excuse it. They could move the temporary bike racks into the car park, if they wanted to.

    This is not the same situation as the owl bike removal. In that case, the two weeks notice means you can just remove the tag from your bike, and leave it in situ. Here, you must remove your bike, but there is nowhere to remove it to if you will be away on the day the bikes are taken. We know there is nowhere to move them to, because they have been clamping down on attempts to park anywhere else in the vicinity of the station.