The London Borough of Islington has been accused of making a “cock-up” and wasting more than £40,000 of taxpayers’ money in deploying Cyclehoops on more than 200 sign posts – but the company that makes them has hit back at critics, saying they misunderstand what the product is designed to do.
On Thursday, the Islington Gazette ran a story under the headline £40,000 of taxpayers’ cash “wasted” by Islington Council in cycle lock-up “cock-up” which quoted a local cyclist as saying the Cyclehoops weren’t necessary because a D-lock performed the same function.
Opposition politicians also chipped in to say that the money spent on the security devices had been wasted, but Cyclehoop has highlighted what it sees as fundamental misunderstandings of the needs its product meets and other benefits.
The borough, like several others in London, has used the award-winning Cyclehoop to provide a relatively low-cost solution to bicycle security, deploying it in 211 locations throughout the borough at a cost of £200 each.
The product’s inventor, Anthony Lau, came up with the idea after his own bike was stolen by being lifted off a sign post, a common type of theft that provides an unwelcome surprise for owners who assumed they had locked their bike securely.
That feature seemed lost on Islington resident and bike rider Leo Chapman, however, who told the Islington Gazette: “Most cyclists use D-locks to secure their bikes, which are four inches wide, but sign posts are three inches in diameter, meaning D-locks fit on them anyway.
“But lampposts are around seven inches in diameter and so are too wide for D-locks. Cycle hoops should be on these instead, because it’s these we’re currently not able to lock our bikes up to.
“Islington Council has wasted £42,200 by putting these on the wrong posts.
“To put these on posts we can already attach our bikes to is a complete waste of money and a waste of scarce resources.”
Councilor Terry Stacy, leader of Liberal Democrat opposition in Labour-run Islington, added: “What a wasted opportunity. These 200 bike hoops should not have been put where you can already attach a bike anyway.
“Anything the council does to encourage cycling is a good thing and I support that cause, but this is a total waste. It doesn’t exactly fill you with confidence.”
However, a council spokesman told the newspaper: “We want to provide safe and practical places for people to secure their bikes. Cyclehoops on sign posts offer this, while minimising obstructions for pedestrians.
“We don’t allow bikes to be secured to lamp posts as we need to have unimpeded access to their electrical entry points for maintenance and emergencies.”
In an email seen by road.cc, Cyclehoop pointed out that using its product gave cyclists increased security when locking their bikes on a sign post compared to simply using a D-lock, and also prevented the bike from slipping to the ground – something that can not only lead to the bicycle itself being damaged, but also presents a hazard to pedestrians.
Cyclehoop asked for the article to be corrected, and while some of its comments were added, the headline and opening paragraphs accusing the borough of wasting money and having made a “cock-up” remain.
In its email, Cyclehoop said:
The article is incorrect and we are disappointed you have not looked into the project in detail before labeling it a ‘cock-up’. We are upset that our Cyclehoops have been unfairly portrayed in your article and that you did not consult us before releasing it.
Islington council specifically chose to install the Cyclehoops onto signposts rather than lampposts, as the majority of lampposts cannot be used as it would block the lighting access panel.
The councilor mentioned in the article does not understand that Cyclehoops are installed onto signposts to help reduce the risk of theft or bike damage. They prevent thieves from stealing the bike by lifting it over the top of the signpost or ripping the post out of the ground.
They also prevent the bike from sliding down the post and getting damaged, as well as blocking pedestrian pathways, which is particularly inconvenient for pedestrians with disabilities and parents with pushchairs who may require extra pavement space.
Based in South London and offering a variety of products that go well beyond that original concept, Cyclehoop supplies local authorities businesses and other organisations throughout the UK, and is also now undergoing rapid international expansion. You can find out more about its activities on the company website.
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.