As part of the Birmingham Cycle Revolution (BCR), extra cycle parking in the city centre (inside the middleway) is being installed to help people lock up their cycles when they reach their destinations. Following an informal consultation process earlier this year, the BCR team are consulting on final plans for this wave of cycle parking. The consultation can be found on the Birmingham BeHeard website, and closes on the 1st December 2017.
Push Bikes' normal response to these cycle parking consultations is "Yes please, and when will you install even more?" The more cycle parking there is, the more convenient it will be for cycle users to safely lock up their bikes when they need to stop. Safe and comfortable cycling infrastructure is very important, but cycle parking is also a factor in people's decisions whether to cycle a particular journey or not. This consultation, however, has a few interesting extras that we think are worth highlighting:
(1) Electric bike charging stands.
The plans include proposals for 2 stands with electric bike charging points on Smallbrook Queensway outside TKMaxx (It is unclear if there will be 2 or 4 charging points spread between the 2 stands). This is a good step forward to see, as we have been seeing electric car charging points springing up across the city centre. Electric bicycles are a far more sustainable and space efficient form of transport than electric cars, but providing charging points at key destinations will be important for giving electric bike users peace of mind about the range of their batteries. These 2 stands are between two major shopping centres, and so are well situated in that respect. Whether or not casual visitors to these shopping destinations will know about the charging points is another matter.
We think that this is a positive step forward, although we think that charging stands such as these will be most successful when they are widespread and common - so that electric bike users are confident that wherever they go, they will be able to find a charging point.
(2) Cycle Hub in the Jewellery Quarter
In the dry space at the front of the multistory car park on Vyse Street, the plans include two-tier cycle parking, plus 2 Sheffield stands for non-standard bikes, plus 2 maintenance stations and a notice board. It is positive both that maintenance stations are being provided and that non-standard bikes are being considered in this location. There won't be any access controls around the bike hub though, so security will be more of a concern than with secure bike hubs, and maintenance stations are only useful as long as they are themselves maintained and repairs made when they are damaged.
(3) Planter cycle stand
The plans (on page 14 of the PDF) include a 'planter cycle stand'. This has a box with plants in, with 6 metal loops coming off one side for bikes to be slotted into. On the positive side, it is not a 'wheel-bender' design - the metal loops will support the cycles well. On the negative side, bikes that have racks on the front or which have very wide handlebars would have problems, and it would be difficult to lock a Brompton to them.
However, cycle parking solutions like this which can be re-located later allow the council to put in some cycle parking quickly to find out if there is sufficient demand for more permanent cycle parking. And the inclusion of flowers on top may make the cycle parking more acceptable to NIMBY's.
(4) Making good use of existing street furniture
There are a lot of sign-post mounted cycle hoops proposed, to be attached to bollards as well as taller sign-posts, and also cycle hoops on railings. The photos of the locations show that in many of the locations those pieces of street furniture are already being used a cycle parking, so these cycle hoops will give a better and more secure lock-up point there. This is a good way to quickly roll-out a lot of cycle parking without having to take up more pavement space or dig more holes. With street furniture such as bollards, though, it is important to check that they can't be removed and that the cycle-hoop can be securely attached. All of the bollards identified in the consultation seem suitable, but when locking your bike, do check the security of the point you are locking it to.
Overall, we support the proposals, and think that they are a good step forward to providing convenient cycle parking across the city centre.