We all know that the UK is lagging behind some of its European counterparts such as Sweden and the Netherlands in terms of being bike-friendly, but the recent growth in Cycle Centres is a relatively new concept in the UK that is helping to reduce this gap.
So what is a Cycle Centre?
The concept behind a Cycle Centre or hub is that it brings together a variety of facilities that will encourage and make life easier for a cyclist –
– Secure and safe parking
– Repair facilities
– Facilities i.e. lockers, showers, changing
At the heart of the facility is cycle parking. The type of parking depends on the environment and space available. If a purpose built unit then a secure compound is a good solution. It can be partially covered with a canopy or as part of an existing building.
Cycle Centres also have access control systems enabling controlled usage by members as there is usually a charge for the service. The type of access control can be keypad, swipe card / fob and the hub can be manned or un-manned. In addition to the access control most cycle hubs also have additional security such as good lighting and CCTV.
Cycle parking alone, whether access controlled or not, does not make a Cycle Centre, however, and there needs to be a host of other facilities for the cyclist. If using a bike to commute then having areas where people can leave clothing, cycle helmets, lights etc is essential. At some hubs, this is taken even further with the provision of showers and changing rooms.
Many Cycle Centres have cycle repair shops on site to provide essential repair services and parts such as pumps, inner-tubes and cycle tools. Often these bike shops have extended hours so fit in with the likely needs of commuters who need the facilities outside of the standard 9-5 shop opening hours.
Rail companies lead the way with Cycle Centres
The recent growth in Cycle Centres has been largely driven by the rail companies and enabled by government funding to sustainable travel around the rail system. The number of people using their bikes as part of their commute by cycling to rail stations has steadily increased over recent years. The National Passenger Survey
showed that in 2006 18.5 million rail journeys (over 50,000 trips a day) started with a bike ride and by 2013 this had more than double to 38.4 million (105,000 trips a day.)
Some of this increase has been due to an increase of rail passengers as the percentage of people using their bike has only increased from 2% to 2.6% and much of this travel is still people taking their bikes on the train rather than parking them, but the rail companies are now investing in good cycle parking facilities and cycle hubs to make commuters feel confident about leaving their bike all day.
Cycle rail funding
On July 2014, on the eve of the Tour de Yorkshire, Baroness Kramer , Minister of State for Transport announced a £15million cycle-rail funding aimed at improving cycle facilities as rail stations. The money will be to improve cycle parking and other cycle-friendly facilities at stations.
The Minister announced the funding at the launch of the new £850,000 Sheffield Cycle Centre at Sheffield Station that provides cycle parking for 415 bikes alongside changing rooms and repair facilities. Lockit-safe provided the cycle parking at this exciting new facility utilising our two tier cycle parking system to bring an additional 222 cycle parking spaces. The new Cycle Centre has helped Sheffield station win Rail Station of the Year 2014 at the ATOC National Cycle-Rail Awards.