Tuesday 23 August 2016

Dear Grafton Centre and Vue Cinema - why do you hate us?

I promised you a local blog article for local people. So here it is. 

Please bear with me while I get through the ranty bit. I promise you I'm ending this with a constructive proposal to make things better for cyclists in Cambridge. 

We (my better half and I) went to the pictures last week to see Suicide Squad after work. The Vue cinema up at the Grafton is maybe a little more convenient for us than the other place down on the leisure park, so we went there. There's no dedicated cycle locking provided by the Grafton centre, which is a downer in a city like Cambridge. None. There are some rather out of the way bike locks at the East Road entrance in the bus station, but that's an urban motorway, vaguely rideable during the day when the traffic isn't moving but not at cinema kicking out time among speeding night time taxi drivers. So we locked up by the main entrance - Fitzwilliam Street, where there is safe, well lit bike parking.

After the movie we were stopped by a security guard while en route back to our bikes, instead being directed via a side door to a dingy, dark, intimidating narrow alleyway that stinks of urine. The kind of place Batman's parents go to die. You wouldn't go there alone at night, you would rather not go there even in a group. 

Needless to say we did protest. But the security guard would have none of it.

Whats that you ask? You want to know what the car parking is like? Massive, pervasive, convenient, opening straight on to the cinema concourse. Step out from the pictures, step straight in to the car park.

I mentioned this to various people who ride bikes here, they gave me a simple enough answer for how they handle the whole 'going to the pictures at night' thing - they go to the other cinema.

I contacted the Grafton, got the standard 'its our policy to...' spiel. Then I contacted the cinema chain and got the 'its them, not us...' nonsense. Yes, I understand, you want to keep homeless people out because, oh, I don't know, reasons. Yes, I get that you need security. But at the expense of customer safety to the point where a cyclist (we're half your potential customers here) will go elsewhere? That's just stupid.

Look, guys, you're in the middle of a big redevelopment at the Grafton. Why aren't you making positive noises about cycle parking? We make shopping trips and we're good spenders. Don't insult is by actively looking the doors on the only good bike parking that you don't even provide. Want our custom? Great, lets talk.

You, me, the guys from Cambridge Cycling Campaign, maybe the cycle officers from City and County councils, let's sit down and talk about how to deliver better cycling access. I'll bring cake. Let's do this. Are you game? Will you meet with cyclists or do you not even want our custom?


  1. It's not just the big (cinema) chains which seem to see cyclists as second-class. I had to go to a Specialised store the other week (padded gloves, if you have to ask!). The only one in my city is a bit out of town-ish, nowhere near the city centre. They had a huge car park and I managed to find four sheffield stands round the side. Except that three of them were so wobbly that I daren't lock my bike to them. Apparently Specialised doesn't expect people to go to their stores using an actual bicycle...

    1. Genuinely depressing when somewhere like that has nowhere to lock a bike! Typically I just don't go back to a shop if they're like that, but this time I'm having a crack at getting better out of 'em.

  2. Pretty obvious solution - convert some of the multi-storey car park to cycle parking. Yes, access barriers, blah blah, but surely that can be solved.