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Highlighting cycle-friendly features doesn't seem to translate into reality - and current rules could be scrapped...

Builders in London are making cycle-friendliness a selling point for new homes – but with the government proposing to remove planning regulations that require developments to provide facilities for bike parking, what’s the reality?

An article published last week in Metro highlighted several examples of developments positioned as being suitable for cyclists.

At one, Zenith House in Colindale, North London, house purchasers are given £150 in vouchers that can be spent on purchasing or maintaining a bike. Home-owners at the development are also given two years’ membership of a car club in a bid to encourage them not to rely on their own vehicle.

Another new development is Marine Wharf at Surrey Quays, where apartment prices begin at £470,000, with the location described as being “a 20-minute cycle ride from Canary Wharf” – presumably for those riders brave enough to incorporate the Rotherhithe Tunnel into their route.

That site is being developed by Berkeley Homes, with the company’s John Anderson telling Metro that secure storage for bikes and access to safe routes helped achieve sales, adding: “Developers supporting the trend will attract environmentally conscious buyers who enjoy active pursuits.”

One road.cc user’s experience is rather different, however. She lives in a housing association flat in a modern apartment block in London where the majority of the flats are privately owned and, given the area, expensive.

She told us: “I live in an 'eco home' which is just an excuse to not give you a parking space and deep in the small print is rubbish about the address not being eligible for a council parking permit for the street.

“It's actually a real problem (some people need a car for work etc) and the end result is that the street is full of Maseratis with disabled badges which are obviously the rich people in the fancier flats finding a workaround.

“Oh and the bike shed in the basement has been broken into so many times I now have to live with a hallway full of bikes. Cyclist friendly housing my arse!”

Besides that, in its response in March to the government’s Housing Standards Review, as reported by the social houring website 24 Dash, the Department for Communities and Local Government (DCLG) put forward the proposition that the requirement for cycle storage in new-build developments will be scrapped altogether.

That conflicts with one of the main recommendations of the Get Britain Cycling report published last year by the All Party Parliamentary Cycling Group (APPCG), which called for joined-up thinking from government departments when it comes to cycling.

At a meeting at Westminster in March where transport minister Robert Goodwill addressed the APPCG and guests, road.cc asked him how the removal of that requirement could be reconciled with the government’s commitment to get more people on bikes.

Mr Goodwill said: ““Cycling ticks so many boxes; we can reduce congestion by cycling. In terms of other departments, we can reduce the health budget by more people cycling.

“I’m a bit disturbed to hear about what Eric [Pickles, secretary of state at the DCLG] said about maybe deregulating the housing requirements for cycling, but as I have a Brompton, I can fit it into almost any cupboard in the house.

“But I find I am spending a considerable time doing cycling, and the more cycling issues come my way, the more time I will spend on it.”

Should future developments not include a requirement for separate bike storage to be provided, cyclists may have to look to protect their pride and joy within their own home, through accesssories such as Cyclehoop's Bikeshelf, pictured above - and given the experience of the road.cc user quoted above, keeping your bike indoows may well be the safest solution in any case.

Born in Scotland, Simon moved to London aged seven and now lives in the Oxfordshire Cotswolds with his miniature schnauzer, Elodie. He fell in love with cycling one Saturday morning in 1994 while living in Italy when Milan-San Remo went past his front door. A daily cycle commuter in London back before riding to work started to boom, he's been news editor at road.cc since 2009. Handily for work, he speaks French and Italian. He doesn't get to ride his Colnago as often as he'd like, and freely admits he's much more adept at cooking than fettling with bikes.

12 comments

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jacknorell [972 posts] 3 years ago
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But of course it was Erick Pickles hands shoved deep into a policy changing for the worse for local communities... He may be the most useless out of a very competitive field.

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rggfddne [221 posts] 3 years ago
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Wider doors >> "secure" parking. Besides, everyone should have access to a garage/shed type space, that's where creative things happen. And being pro cycling doesn't make me a communist, I still like having a car. With the fatty on this one. The only measure here that does sound nice is a car hire club.

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bikebot [2119 posts] 3 years ago
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As someone who owns a London flat, and keeps his bikes in a basement storage room I can confirm that thieves will try to break into it a lot. A hell of a lot.

It's also amazing quite how much noise they can make doing so without anyone noticing.

So far I've been lucky. Well, that's probably the wrong word, when it comes to security you make your own luck and since moving here I got directly involved with the management of the block to correct some of the stupid issues we had before.

So far not a single bike stolen from that room. Plenty of bills for repairs to locks, fixtures, doors and walls. Yep, walls, a half demolished cinderblock wall. That's the sort of lengths thieves will go to.

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thereverent [448 posts] 3 years ago
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Having hallway or rooms with bikes in just seem to be part of living in flats in London (in my experience).

I've found newish developments might put a bike room in, but not much more thought goes into it.
I use to live in a fairly new block of flats near Clapham Common in London. There was a bike room, which was a decent size. But the problem was it had become a dumping ground for lots of biek that weren't used, and there was nothing to lock your bike to in the room (I manager to make some space near a pipe which I secured my bike to). So if someone got into the room they could have almost all the bikes away.
Developers never seem to be able to get someone with some simple knowledge to put some decent storeage in which you can lock your bike to.

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bikebot [2119 posts] 3 years ago
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thereverent wrote:

But the problem was it had become a dumping ground for lots of biek that weren't used.

That's a big problem. Lots of renters will just buy some PoS and abandon it when they move out. I've tried to keep that under control in my block by occasionally forcing people to claim bikes we believe have been abandoned. No claim, it goes to the tip (sadly no abandoned Colnago's yet...)

But I know from working with the managing agent, that they get the same problem with cars at other blocks!

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levermonkey [682 posts] 3 years ago
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So yet again the problem is not 'what' is provided but 'where' it is provided.

Cycle parking should never be tucked away out of site, round the back or in the basement. It should be out in the open so everyone can see it. Thieves and vandals don't like the 'light'! If you don't give them a rock to hide under they go away.

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Sudor [189 posts] 3 years ago
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Another facet of UK's bottom of league status as Europe's space standards for new build housing.

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Paul_C [512 posts] 3 years ago
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conservatives giving a silent boost for their developer friends by removing irksome requirements that would eat into their profit...

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ribena [185 posts] 3 years ago
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I used to live in a flat with terrible basement storage facilities.
Thieves cleared it out approx once every six months.

In an attempt to get it improved, i found the planning documents on the local council website.

Flats are considered high density housing, so in order for planning permission to be granted, the council limited the number of parking spaces and requested "secure bike storage".

The building company simply bolted some of those "front wheel holders" in the unsecured bin area. There was one for each flat, but some overlapped so were unusable.

I wrote to the building management company, referring to the councils planning permission requirements, which seemed have an effect, the storage facilities were improved a few months later.

i'd still keep a high value bike in the flat though...

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tomawest [9 posts] 3 years ago
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Aah the joys of owning a house outside London with a garage.  4

Only 1 buglary on the entire estate in 10 years and no other crime during that time. 4 bedrooms, end terrace and a 25 minute, entirely off road ride into Sheffield. Its amazing what 125k will get you.

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bikebot [2119 posts] 3 years ago
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tomawest wrote:

Aah the joys of owning a house outside London with a garage.  4

Only 1 buglary on the entire estate in 10 years and no other crime during that time. 4 bedrooms, end terrace and a 25 minute, entirely off road ride into Sheffield. Its amazing what 125k will get you.

In London now, 125k would probably get you a basement bike storage room, minus flat of course.

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bikebot [2119 posts] 3 years ago
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ribena wrote:

The building company simply bolted some of those "front wheel holders" in the unsecured bin area. There was one for each flat, but some overlapped so were unusable.

I wrote to the building management company, referring to the councils planning permission requirements, which seemed have an effect, the storage facilities were improved a few months later.

You'll find with most building management firms, that they simply have no idea what the right solution is. It's not a case of them not caring, but that they simply don't know.

If you tell them specifically what solutions they should be using, many are willing to help. It's not always a matter of money either, I know that before I moved to my current flat, they spent a lot on bike facilities that were just awful. A complete waste of money and hopelessly insecure, in the end we literally gave them away for scrap.