Bike Storage: What's out there?
Last week we highlighted the lack of flexibility from local councils' on the installation of bike sheds in front gardens across the country.
As mentioned there, it seems odd that these government bodies, supposedly committed to the cause of encouraging cycling, continue to stumble over the obvious ways of helping out British cyclists.
Indeed, the problem of bike storage has only become more obvious over the past year - cycling numbers are the highest they have been for a long time, and the responsive rise of bike theft is reaching epidemic proportions.
Of the facilities that are available for bicycles, from sheds to hangars and full enclosures, each has its advantages and disadvantages in terms of safety and practicality.
Sheds, for example, are cheap and will protect your bicycles from the elements, but they are inherently vulnerable. Usually built with wooden doors and plastic windows and secured with cheap locks, they will not dissuade a determined thief.
However, this problem can be addressed by investing in some wall or floor anchors, although this requires investing in a concrete base as well as some forward planning.
Alternatively, sturdier sheds are available, built with steel doors, security locks and anchor points as standard. 'Bunkers' are also available, which are more like squatter and sturdier sheds, although these will reach a higher price so consider how valuable your bikes are before overinvesting in premium storage that is worth more than the bicycles themselves.
There are many more options for communal bike storage, including bike lockers, as well as hangars and communal cages.
Inspired by those seen in the Netherlands, hangers and cages allow multiple individuals to access a shared space for storing their bikes. While relatively secure, when you increase the number of people who can access the bikes, there is always the chance that thieves will be given access unknowingly by others (bike locker's do not have this problem as the storage space can only be accessed by you.) Some group bike storage subscriptions are also abortively expensive, with some councils charging fees that are getting toward the price of a car parking permit.
Ultimately, the best option lies in full enclosures, which, unlike hangars and cages, completely obscure the bikes inside, and often come with additional facilities ideal for commuters like showers. Hospitals have heavily invested in them over the past year for alleviating pressure on bike riding NHS staff.
To give credit where it is due, installations such as this are becoming more common. Indeed, there are further grounds to be optimistic with the announcement of urban planning developments like the London Mayor's Transport Strategy, which looks to reduce motor vehicle use in the capital while encouraging cycling in the roll out of more bike storage. There are also independent future housing constructions which will be especially built to accommodate bicycles (modern housing has almost always been designed auto-centrically), and local governments are investing more in public storage so bikes needn't have to keep filling up the hallway.
This is certainly a step in the right direction, and we hope that local governments continue on this path.