Cyclists in London have always suffered from the threat of bike theft. It’s an area that Transport for London have long been trying to address, along with pressure groups such as the charity The London Cycling Campaign.
Getting more people cycling in the capital may be a key ambition but the lack of enough “secure” bicycle parking has so far been a stumbling block.
With over 20,000 bikes officially reported stolen each year, cyclists were quick to back the development of a storage hub at Waterloo station. It will provide secure bicycle parking for some 5,000 commuters, the largest facility in the UK of this kind, and is due to open in 2018. While the installation at Waterloo has been getting all the news coverage recently, TfL have also been making the effort to introduce more bike parking in London.
The hope is that providing wide coverage not only reduces the number of thefts in and around London but also encourages more people to take up cycling. This could also have a significant impact on the amount of traffic on the road and the number of people using public transport such as buses and tube trains, reducing carbon emissions from cars and other vehicles. It will also no doubt improve the health of commuters.
According to TfL, cycling in the capital increased by 10% last year, despite the perception among many people that it is a dangerous place to ride a bike. Most cyclists are coming in during the weekday, suggesting that people are using this mode of transport to commute to work rather than simply visiting for sightseeing or other leisure activities.
It’s not just major storage hubs at stations such as Waterloo which are needed. TfL are planning some 80,000 places across the capital by the end of this year. Work has already been completed on two smaller hubs in Hounslow West and North Greenwich which provide free facilities for a few hundred bikes each. There are also initial plans to build others at strategic points, mostly rail and tube stations such as Romford and Barking.
TfL are not only taking the lead in developing secure bicycle parking but also engaging with London’s cyclists on sites such as urbancycleparking.org.uk. If the Dutch style parking hub at Waterloo is successful, and there is no reason why it shouldn’t be, we could see more, large and small scale installations across the capital, providing cyclists with the facilities they need and encouraging more bike use and helping to reduce bike theft.