Academies – how to avoid wasting money with your cycle parking facilities

Over the years we have carried out many projects for 100 of schools across the UK. Before the changes to the education sector, this usually meant projects commissioned by the Local Authority. Increasingly, with the advent of Academy status and the schools now having full budget-holding responsibility, we are dealing directly with the school.

One of the worrying trends we have seen with Academies, however, are mistakes being made in the specification and commissioning of cycle parking provision. Mistakes that are due to inexperience of purchasing such items, mistakes that can be costly.

So if you are an Academy looking to improve your cycle parking provision and encourage more children and staff to ‘ditch the car’ and cycle to school, what are the things you need to look out for or consider?

1 Not choosing galvanised steel

Most cycle shelters are powder coated. This allows you to have a specific colour and many schools choose this option to match their school colours and make the shelter more appealing. The mistake that people make is thinking that powder coating will protect the steel frame underneath. That galvanisation is not needed. It is also a way that some suppliers keep their costs down as this is an additional process and therefore cost.

So what if you don’t galvanise the frame?

All steel will rust if not galvanised. The powder coating gives some protection but it can get chipped, scratched or water can seep into the frame at joints or fixings. And where water can get in, rust will appear unless the steel is galvanised. So when looking for cycle shelters, compounds or canopies and walkways, make sure you request a steel galvanised frame, even if it is being powder coated.

2 Wrongly spacing cycle racks

The standard cycle rack is the most common form of cycle parking either as stand alone or underneath a shelter or within a compound. It can be tempting to squeeze in more racks, but this is a mistake and will actually reduce the number of effective cycle parking spaces you have.

As a rule of thumb, cycle parking racks should be placed with 800mm between each ‘hoop’ or rack.

3 Downgraded polycarbonate cladding

Most cycle shelters and compounds use a polycarbonate cladding system. This allows light into the area and is flexible and durable. Like with the galvanisation, however, this can be an area where unscrupulous suppliers choose to ‘cut corners’ so you need to be aware of what you should be specifying and the consequences of not doing so.

The minimum thickness of the cladding should be 4mm. In addition it should have UV protection. Not only will this protect children and cycles from the effects of sunlight but it also stops the cladding itself deteriorating. Cladding with no UV protection will go cloudy and make your cycle shelter look unkempt.

4 Bolting cycle racks to tarmac

Another short cut we see is contractors bolting cycle shelters and compounds to tarmac. This doesn’t give a good enough fix and concrete pads are needed to ensure this. The thickness of this concrete also needs to be structurally calculated so that it is the right size for the thickness of steel and size of the shelter or compound being installed. Bolting to tarmac could leave your cycle shelter vulnerable and ultimately dangerous.

5 Wrongly positioned cycle shelter

Cycle shelters have the purpose of encouraging cyclists by removing the barrier of not have a safe and secure place to leave their bike. This can all be undermined if the cycle shelter is not positioned in the correct place. If it is too far from the entrance. If it is out of sight, which can cause security problems. If it is too near a road of busy car park. If it doesn’t have the right facilities i.e. cycle lockers for the children to put their cycle helmets.

If you are unsure of the best position for your cycle shelter, read our blog ‘5 things to consider when planning your cycle parking?’

If you are planning upgrading your cycle parking, you can contact us at any time to discuss your cycle parking requirements for your school. We are happy to advise and make suggestions on what will best fit your needs (and we only ever use galvanised steel and UV protected cladding!)


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