Friday, 13 August 2010

Bicycle Cull at Cambridge Station

Alright, where should I park today?
Anyone who has tried to park their bike at Cambridge Railway Station in the last few years knows what a nightmare this has become.  Each day some 1000+ cyclists try to park at a facility with 748 spaces.  As a result, bikes have to be parked against walls, railings, street furniture and other bikes.  No wonder the station is a hot spot for bicycle theft.  And as the first view of the city for many visitors, the scene is a disgrace.

Every so often some bright spark suggests that that the bicycle parking crisis could be ameliorated if only those bikes that had been abandoned were removed.  The trouble is bicycle culls take time and effort, and there is little money to be made from the resale of rusting, unloved, machinery.

To overcome the inherent economic barrier to culling, National Express has now teamed up with the social enterprise charity Opportunity Without Limits (OWL).  National Express are tagging seemingly abandoned bikes once a month and, after a grace period of 2 - 4 weeks, OWL are removing them to their workshop.  There they are restored, or taken apart for spares, by adults with learning difficulties or health problems.

National Express are clearly pleased with the scheme and large posters about it have appeared on a number of platforms.  We can all be reassured to learn that removing abandoned bikes is "part of an ongoing operation to ensure the most spaces possible are available for cycling customers".

The most spaces possible, eh?  Then Cambridge Station Duty Manager Graham Ellingham might want to take a look at the figures.  The number of bikes removed since the scheme was introduced has been as follows:
April - 24 removed; May - 32 removed; June - 26 removed; July - 22 removed.  Given the scale of the problem, these are small numbers.  There is an existing pent-up demand for secure parking at the station, with some cyclists declining to leave their bike there for fear of it being damaged or stolen.   Mr T regrettably predicts that this latest bicycle cull exercise will have no noticeable effect in improving cycle parking conditions.


  1. Having just had to drive to OWL in Sawston to recover my bike (at my own expense) I'm concerned that this 'bike cull' is becoming licensed theft. The grace period to remove the sticker (or bike) was barely 2 weeks (during which we holidayed). The staff there tell me they had 135 bikes taken in as opposed to the minor figures above. Many of the bikes were sold out on the same day they received them. My bike was in a clean condition, secured with two padlocks (one a D bar) which I will now have to replace.

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