Thursday, 20 August 2009

London railway station cycle parking.

Tom Vanderbilt recently wrote an article in Slate which has been generating a few hits to my blog. He pointed to an article in the London newspaper, the Evening Standard which had covered cycle parking at London railway stations.

To summarise, London has 2800 cycle parking spaces shared between 50 railway stations. It also has a population of around eight million people.

On the other hand, Assen where we live in the Netherlands is a small city with just 65000 inhabitants and one railway station. But at that railway station there are spaces for more than 2500 bikes.

That's one cycle parking place at the station per 26 Assen residents vs. one space per 2800 Londoners. That's a full two orders of magnitude difference (i.e. 100x).

Here in the Netherlands the railway company says that 4 in 10 railway passengers arrive at the station by bike. London has provided for just 1 in 700 railway passengers to be able to park a bike at the station.

London frequently claims to be doing all kinds of great things for cyclists. The Mayor, Boris Johnson, has used such hyperbole as to suggest that London is a beacon to the world for cycling. However, the truth is that the city remains decades behind. Of course, London is far from the only place to be exaggerating it's achievements, and it can be confusing to work out what is worth looking at, but actually it's simple.

The Netherlands still leads the rest of the world by a large margin. There are many pretenders, accept no substitute...

For comparisons of railway station parking at other cities in the UK with a village here in the Netherlands, take a look here. For an article about how the Netherlands still doesn't have nearly enough, and what's being done about it, look here. Or take a look at the wonderful cycle park at the main station in Groningen which has 10000 spaces for 180000 people.

8 comments:

disgruntled said...

I don't know where their figures came from but Vauxhall certainly has a fair bit of bike parking. It wasn't wonderful, and there were always a number of dead and dismembered bikes, but it was covered and there was a CCTV camera and there was always enough room for me to lock my bike when I was commuting there (2005-8). Obviously not enough for Dutch levels of bike use, but not a limiting factor at the moment.

Nick said...

Perhaps the allocation of space for bikes at London stations merely reflects the demand. I suspect it's unrealistic to expect the railway companies to evangelise on behalf of the cycling movement. As for London's mayor, I can't say it's a surprise to hear that overblown claims continue to drip from his mouth. It was ever thus.

coco said...

A comment on Nick's comment about "...the allocation of space ... at London stations ...reflects the demand". "Demand" for most things is an 'elastic' concept - raise the "cost" (price, effort required, barriers to use) and see it diminish; lower it and the opposite tends to happen. I can see it is not for railway companies to be responsible for promoting cycling... but one wonders how much more people would cycle if secure bike parking was widely available (AND getting there was perceived as safe).

'Disgruntled': presumably, you agree 'Dutch levels of bike use' would be no bad thing for the UK?

disgruntled said...

@coco - Oh, absolutely, and London definitely needs more facilities, but at the moment decent bike lanes (the ones around Vauxhall were terrifying in places) are far more of a limiting factor than bike parking. I just wanted to pick up on a small matter of fact. I'm guessing that nobody in Vauxhall bothered to respond to a survey asking about bike racks, hence the 0.

Kim said...

If the London mayor was really serious about making "London ... a beacon to the world for cycling" then he would have followed the lead of cities like Barcelona (a city where hosting the Olympics was a springboard for the increase of urban cycling) and provide cycle parking like this at all main line stations.

David Hembrow said...

Kim: Those statement type cycle parks are nice to see, but the capacity is never huge. The website says the largest takes 92 bikes.

Kim said...

Humm, "Those statement type cycle parks are nice to see, but the capacity is never huge." OK, how about the the facility at Kasai Station which has a capacity of 9,400 bicycles. That is nearly 2,500 more then Amsterdam Central can handle...

David Hembrow said...

Kim: You've got me there, on capacity at least. 9400 is pretty good. Almost as many as Groningen and half of the capacity of the central station at Utrecht.

I do wonder if it's working right now, though, which is of course another problem with such sophistication - even with the high quality of Japanese engineering.

By comparison, a bunch of simple racks which can be accessed at any time will always work.

In case you think I'm critical because it's not Dutch (such accusations have been made in the past), I should point out that there are things like this in the Netherlands as well. I wrote a piece a couple of years ago (not for the blog) about the Fietsmolen in Nieuwe Vennep. People tend to be interested in these things, so perhaps I should recycle some of the text and photos into a blog post.

However, my background in engineering taught me that what can go wrong will always go wrong. That's why I prefer simple solutions to problems which are simple - which cycle parking is.