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London Cycling Campaign slams poor bike parking facilities at major hospital in capital following spate of thefts

“I can walk into this storage centre right here with all the angle-grinders and bolt-croppers in the world, and nothing would stop me.”

London Cycling Campaign has criticised one of the capital’s leading hospitals for the poor quality of the bike parking facilities there following a spate of recent bike thefts, saying that they are “completely preventable. In a video posted to Twitter, one member of the campaign group’s staff who went to see for himself what facilities are provided at University College Hospital (UCL) on Euston Road and said, “I can walk into this storage centre right here with all the angle-grinders and bolt-croppers in the world, and nothing would stop me.”

As we reported on our live blog this morning, a bike was stolen from a member of clinical staff at the hospital at the weekend, the second such theft there in a week (the stolen bike in the earlier theft was subsequently recovered), and since the coronavirus crisis began last year, bike parking facilities at hospitals around the country have become a regular target for thieves, especially where security is lax.

In the video posted to Twitter, LCC marketing officer Calum Rogers said: “If you’ve been following our social media recently, we’ve been covering the really awful case of the healthcare worker at UCL who’s had her cycle stolen while voluntarily working weekends.”

“I’ve come to the storage centre where her cycle was stolen myself to see what the deal is, and sadly the first thing you see when you turn up is the scattered, snapped and sawn-through locks [which] really speak for themselves.

“As you walk up and down, there’s plenty of signs from the building managers telling you ‘bicycles are left at the owner’s risk’.

“All around the place there’s plenty of, you know, ‘We love our NHS’ but it really wouldn’t be much in evidence if you came down here to take a look at how the stop their people’s cycles from being stolen.

“In this instance, Humayra is working on a COVID-19 intensive care unit at weekends in her own time.

“While she was working at the weekend, just a couple of days ago, a thief just took her bike from this area in the middle of the day, and it wasn’t here when she got back.”

In July last year, LCC said that some 800 NHS and care workers had signed up as members since April, and sai: “We need more secure cycle parking at hospitals and other health and care premises, particularly in inner London. Everyone who works in the care sector should have a safe place to keep their cycle while at work, and there also must be ample storage for visitors, including people using larger cargo cycles and tricycles.

“The healthcare sector must support them in making that change by supporting the crucial infrastructure changes which make people feel safe in confident in cycling, whether on adaptive cycles such as handcycles and electric-assisted cycles, as well as un-powered two wheelers.”

Rogers, in his video, said: “Transport for London’s been telling the healthcare sector and everyone that when they’re getting from A to B they should consider cycling or walking, and the people who are making the effort to do so, their cycles aren’t safe,” Rogers said.

“Last year, we told the healthcare sector that they need to get better in stopping this from happening, it’s all completely preventable – I can walk into this storage centre right here with all the angle-grinders and bolt-croppers in the world, and nothing would stop me.

“It wouldn’t cost a lot of money to keep this from happening with real, physical security measures.”

He continued: “Thank you to everyone who’s amplified our call on employers to do better in this regard. Some employers have done really well in the past year – we’ve had feedback that Guy’s & St Thomas’ [NHS Foundation Trust] has got really excellent cycle parking, and The Francis Crick Institute, not far from here, has ample parking which is very accessible, and these people are feeling much safer when they park their expensive e-cycles up there.

“But it’s just so maddening because our health and care sector deserves so much more than this.”

He added: “Thank you to the person who chipped in £549 last night to replace the cycle, but what’s going to stop that one from being stolen? You tell me.”

Simon has been news editor at road.cc since 2009, reporting on 10 editions and counting of pro cycling’s biggest races such as the Tour de France, stories on issues including infrastructure and campaigning, and interviewing some of the biggest names in cycling. A law and languages graduate, published translator and former retail analyst, his background has proved invaluable in reporting on issues as diverse as cycling-related court cases, anti-doping investigations, and the bike industry. He splits his time between London and Cambridge, and loves taking his miniature schnauzer Elodie on adventures in the basket of her Elephant Bike.

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