England has millions of cyclists, but many people don’t cycle as much as they need too, simply because the roads are not cycling-friendly and there are not good options for bike parking or rental. Let’s see how things can be improved, and also look at some inspiring examples from abroad.
- It’s no surprise that The Netherlands tops the list as the most cycling-friendly country on earth (it also helps that it’s flat!) Nearly everyone rides a bike in Amsterdam, although cycle theft is common. And the safety aspect is not as good as Copenhagen (the other ‘cycling paradise’, which has five times less accidents). In fact, the Dutch city of Utrecht is named the most cycling-friendly on earth, with with over 420km of cycle paths, a low accident rate, over 300,000 bike parking spaces at the local train station. 94% of residents own one or more bikes (including electric bikes).
- Germany has many cities with ‘no-car days’. The city of Bremen has one district that is bicycle-only (no cars allowed) with its own speed limits and bicycle-designed roads.
- Sweden also has a lot of cycling-friendly areas, and has designed the roads so that it has a very low rate of fatality amongst cyclists who use public areas alongside cars.
Improving Cycle Parking in England
Good bikes are not the second-hand ones you find on eBay, but tend to cost a few hundred pounds from indie bike shops (let them put them together for you to test the brakes and keep things safe). Plus you likely use bike insurance and breakdown cover, so it’s important to find somewhere safe to park your bike.
Ideally bikes should be parked in well-lit areas with covers (to stop rust from rain etc), and near enough to other public transport. Ideally there should also be room to park cargo bikes, for people with children or shopping. The cheap and common Sheffield Stand, which is like an inverted U shape to support the whole bike, and keep it steady while being locked. Experts do not recommend slots in concrete, as these can’t support different widths of tires and are difficult to lock, and risk damaging wheels.
Cyclehoop offers award-winning cycle parking, which is easy to install and effective. From parks that use existing street infrastructure to entire bike shelters (for ones with green roofs, see toxic plants to avoid near pets). It also offers Bike Repair Stands that feature bike tools in retractable stainless steel cables, and a stand to elevate the bike off the ground, while carrying out repairs. In California, bike stations have changing rooms with showers, towels and lockers to hang bike clothing.
Creating Safer Roads for Cyclists
Safety is the main concern for cyclists, with 41,000 dying each year in cycle accidents worldwide. Ways recommended by experts to make cycling safer for everyone are:
- Creating car-free zones (which also drops pollution)
- Giving cyclists priority (bicycle boulevards). The eco city of Portland (Oregon) has 70 miles of them.
- Creating dedicated cycling spaces for streets with high speeds and lots of vehicles, with signs and pop-up bike lanes, unless permanent solutions are found. IBerlin has one-way bike lanes with safe street design and strict speed limits.
- Create ‘floating bus stops’ to separate buses from bicycles. Already done in Cambridgeshire.
- Sustrans has information on creating ‘safe routes to schools’ (to help stop accidents from the many cars arriving at the same time, when parents pick children up from school).