Reallocating use of cycle shelter to give smokers somewhere to puff away sends out wrong message, say critics

Addenbrooke’s Hospital in Cambridge has removed 60 cycle parking spaces from a covered shelter, with the space being given to smokers to puff away on their cigarettes. The hospital, which has strong links with the University of Cambridge, insists it is committed to promoting cycling, but cycle campaigners say its action sends out entirely the wrong signal.

Robin Heydon from Cambridge Cycling Campaign told Cambridge News: “Addenbrooke’s is already overflowing with bikes, so to remove bike parking, especially to put in a smoking shelter, seems completely and entirely against what the NHS should be about.”

The website says that the reallocation of the space is tied to works associated with enlargement of the major trauma unit at Addenbrooke’s, which a spokesman for Cambridge University Hospitals NHS Trust said would result in the creation of 79 additional cycle parking places.

“At CUH we are committed to encouraging staff, patients and visitors to live a healthy lifestyle,” the spokesman explained.

“That is why we have made a commitment to provide an additional 500 cycle spaces over the next two years.

“We are working towards a smoke-free campus. Smoking shelters are in place because they help to minimise the safety and health risks.

“One of the five designated smoking shelters is being relocated to a new area next to the S block to replace cycle racks that are currently there.

“A number of cycle racks have already been removed immediately adjacent to the footpath; the second phase of this is to remove a further 25 cycle spaces to enable the smoking shelter to be relocated. This work will be complete by the end of 2012.”

Cambridge News points out that the hospital, which has previously been involved in controversy due to a Burger King restaurant opening in its food court, provides support for staff and patients trying to quit smoking.

However, local councillor Geoff Heathcock joined in the criticism over the hospital’s action in changing the purpose of the shelter.

“As a hospital, Addenbrooke’s should say that it doesn’t encourage smoking and therefore will not go out of its way to provide additional facilities for people who do smoke, given that a significant number of people come through its doors every year as an outcome of having been smokers all their lives,” he said.

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.