Thursday 26 February 2009

University: bike parking options

Bristol University, flagship college for a Cycling city, is threatening to clamp bikes parked where they should not be, while leaving cars alone on their property, and allowing their own vehicles to park on the pavements elsewhere in the area. What bike parking do they provide?

There is actually some secure parking in the sports centre -you need a membership card to access it and we have not yet seen inside. We can take a look at the covered area outside the physics building. Since the bike and motorbike parking behind the physics building was removed (it's now building works), this is all there is on this side of the road.

It's covered, and running at about 80% capacity at 10:00 on a Wednesday morning. But wait -what is that sign on on the wall? It's another notice.

It is from the university security and says "your bike will be stolen" - 41 bikes were taken in Autumn Term 2008, average bike value 300 quid. That's not much for a good mountain bike, hence the obvious lack of hydraulics in the brake levers. But it is a lot if you are a student who doesn't have a trust fund set up by your parents. Your bike gets nicked, there goes your transport.

There we have it then. University security parked on one side of the pavement, warning signs of bike clamping if you park on the (not that secure) fencing, and clear evidence that wherever you park here, if it isn't the secure park, its going be gone when you get back.

Taking a look at the other side of the road from the Bristol Traffic Helicopter, we can get another view of the key parking issues of the area.

In the foreground, five cars in the pay and display short stay parking. The people I all saw arriving were students -ones with money, obviously. But if mum and dad get you a car for your 18th birthday before you go to Bristol University, money for parking for one lecture a day is probably manageable.

Behind the cars, on the left, a de-facto motorbike site. They've lost their parking with the building works. nine to ten bikes, taking up less area than the five cars in the foreground.

Behind the cars, on the right, more bike parking. possibly twelve sheffield racks, twenty to twenty-four bikes.

Notice something unusual here? There is more area allocated for short stay parking for five cars than ten motorbikes or twenty bicycles. The sheer possibility of short-stay parking means that those students who have the money have the option of driving to lectures, forcing them to park over corners on Highbury Villas when that fails. If someone were to turn those short stay parking areas into bike parking, there would be room for another 40+ bicycles and, by removing the option of driving to lectures, supress road traffic.

Now, one could hope for cycling city funding for this, but there's another option, isn't there? For the university cyclists to take over the short-stay parking area as a protest against the university removing all their parking spaces. It might also make a fun place for a critical mass ride, though there is the small detail of the hill climb from the centre to deal with.


Will B said...

I asked the uni about secure cycle parking in this area - and now am the proud owner of a form on which I can request access. The form has to be signed by my head of department (or 'agreed designated signatory') - though what they would know about my bicycle trustworthiness, I'm not really sure.

Along the road, at the university sports centre, the railings are decorated with threatening notices to cyclists that dare attach their bicycles. Instead, we are directed to down the side of the building, to a poorly lit, discreet group of Sheffield racks - and more warnings that our bikes will probably be stolen!

Anonymous said...

@Will -glad you got access to the secure parking, photos would be welcome.

Some of the reasons for banning bikes on the railings make sense -that is the wheelchair access- but it seems overkill, and the parking round the side looks dodgy.

There may be some good news on this subject though -but we can't confirm it until next week.