Last week, as happens quite a lot on the Bike blog, we lamented a problem and wondered about a solution. In a slightly unexpected move, someone then emailed me one.
My post about the best ways of ensuring your bike is safe overnight touched on the difficulties when you can’t, or don’t want to keep it indoors, and where you haven’t got a lockable shed or garage, a theme continued in quite a few comments.
Unknown to me, on the very same day a local council was announcing its own particular answer to the problem. Lambeth, a local authority in south London, has just installed its very first public bike boxes, as shown above.
The idea is, apparently, that locals with nowhere indoors to keep a bike pay £5 a month to rent a reserved spot inside one of the boxes, which appear to be a fairly standard set of bike racks with a lockable roll-top cover. In theory, thieves will be put off by having to noisily wrestle off the cover before even getting to work on the locks inside.
Lambeth says that while such on-street schemes are common in the Netherlands – I can’t vouch for that but I’m sure some readers can – this will be the first time they’ve been used in this way in the UK.
So far a mere four have been installed (in Bonnington Square, Oval, and Crimsworth Road, Stockwell, in case you’re a local) but I’m guessing more will be on the way.
Nigel Haselden, the councillor who deals with such things for the Labour-run authority, is quoted making an obvious but important point in their press release:
There is a huge demand for cycle parking in built up areas like Lambeth and by helping more people get into cycling we can cut pollution and congestion.
From the point of view, admittedly, of someone who’s never used one of these devices, I think this is a great development. Apart from anything else, I think these mini-shelters are almost quite pretty – certainly more so than the parked car they presumably replace. Plus, the more permanent bike-only infrastructure there is, the greater the reminder to other road users that cyclists exist.
I’d love to think that these could soon be springing up around the country.
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