“I would cycle, but there’s nowhere to keep my bike.”
There’s been an uptake of cycling in Edinburgh, however it can be a problem keeping a bicycle secure overnight in a city where a big chunk of the population lives in tenements or flats. A bicycle locked outside on a standard Sheffield Rack can be stolen and/or vandalised if left overnight, and bicycles in stairwells are also liable to theft, and may be regarded as hazardous (i.e. blocking escape routes) by the Fire Service.
Way back in 2005, research at Edinburgh Napier University showed that bike ownership was low in tenement areas, compared to the leafy suburbs further out, even though tenement dwellers tend to be in ideal cycling distance of shops, schools, employment, etc.
The huge demand for Edinburgh Council’s proposed secure lockers Item_7.3___Proposed_Increase_in_Scale_of_Rollout in some tenement areas shows that the problem still remains or is even worse – residents in 158 Edinburgh streets have requested lockers, even with minimal Council publicity so far. The first lockers are expected to be rolled out in the autumn, but solutions for many people will still be needed in-flats or tenements.
The cycling campaign group Spokes has had some comments about cycle storage in Edinburgh:-
“I used to have to store my bike in my bedroom in my second floor flat. So therefore I rarely could face navigating the tight corners to get it out the flat and lugging it down 2 flights of stairs so it definitely reduced the amount I would cycle. I would have loved one of those on street storage cages, I really think they should be rolled out across areas with tenements.”
Another:- “I’m on the 1st floor, with an 8 year old, so it’s a total pain to get 2 bikes up and down the stairs. Hers gets out fairly regularly, but mine hasn’t for a while. There are no bikes in the stair as buy to let landlord neighbours have decided it’s a fire hazard.
“I’d be really keen to know more about storage for the communal areas that doesn’t take up too much space.”
Spokes receives frequent enquiries about cycling storage, and the answers are often bad news to the questioner. Yes, your landlord will have to consent to cycle stands on the property. Yes, a cycle shed in your garden will need potentially expensive planning permission. Yes, a housing officer can remove bicycles from a stairwell.
Spokes has published a new factsheet, How to be a Cycling Flat-Dweller, to help tackle the bike storage problems which bedevil tenement residents – whether or not they own a bike. The factsheet suggests solutions within the flat, within the tenement stair or back green, as well as how the Council can help on the street outside.
In-a flat, consider installing hooks, racks or clips, or choose an appropriate bicycle.
In a tenement stair you may be able to find sympathetic neighbours to agree to convert some space into safe cycle storage.
Outside, as above, Edinburgh Council is planning to install secure bike lockers and the scheme could be expanded to other streets in future.
Transport and Environment Convener, Councillor Lesley Macinnes, said: “We encourage cycling amongst as many people as possible as a healthy, environmentally-friendly way to move around the city. We’re investing in a range of initiatives to make travel by bike easier and safer but making sure people have somewhere to store their bikes, so they can own one in the first place, is also important to boosting active travel.
“Spokes’ factsheet provides extremely useful information for residents, particularly those living in densely populated areas, and I would urge anyone looking for advice on where to store their bike to pick one up. We’ll soon be rolling out secure cycle storage to locations around the city too and I hope that these measures to enhance bike security will lead to even more people choosing cycling as an effective, sustainable and healthy mode of transport which can often save people time.”
The factsheet also discusses the added complexities of storing increasingly popular e-bikes and cargo-bikes.
The factsheet is available free from Spokes in paper form and can be downloaded as a pdf here
Spokes – firstname.lastname@example.org
Chris Oliver – email@example.com