Occasionally, but regularly, residents email or tweet us with a picture of on-street bicycle parking, usually from Waltham Forest. Normally accompanied by a friendly message saying, roughly paraphrased, ‘How about having this in Newham?’
Now, we hate to disillusion anyone under the impression that being a councillor is all about wielding unlimited power, and cutting ribbons at smart events with lavish canapes, but it is our experience that being a local councillor is all too often, as Rachel has sometimes joked with her friends, all about ‘saying no to people, but nicely’. So it is with great pleasure and some surprise that we can report that actually – yes – we can have some on street cycle parking. The first ‘bike hangar’ is being installed in a road Forest Gate as soon as all the various legal road permissions have been gained, and there is some money available to install a small number more.
But what is it? Essentially, it’s parking for bikes, but on the road rather than on your property. Exactly as you might park your car in the street. It’s a bike ‘hangar’ which takes up approximately one car parking space, and includes space for 6 bicycles. Each space (up to two per household) is rented for a small amount per year, and each person has a key to open and lock the storage.
In practical terms, it does several things. It encourages people to cycle by making access to bikes easier. Many people in Newham live somewhere with no direct access to outside space, whether that be a terrace (where they need to lug the bike through the house, hoping not to wheel mud onto their floor), or a flat (where they might store their bike on their balcony, or in a shared hall). This type of storage means you can leave your front door, go onto the road and access your bike just as easily as you would step into your car.
But also storing bikes on the roads makes a broader point about who the roads are for. Roads and pavements exist for all forms of transport: for pedestrians, bikes, cars, buggies, wheelchairs, scooters, and any other form of getting about that you can think of. We do tend to think of roads as space where the car reigns supreme and all other modes of transport must be subservient, and making space for cycling amongst car parking not only uses the space more efficiently, but is a visual reminder that bikes are here to stay, and deserving of space, resources, and infrastructure.
If you are interested in having on-street bicycle parking outside your house, contact Richard and Joseba at Newham on firstname.lastname@example.org Of course, we need to add that simply being keen isn’t a guarantee that it will happen. You’ll need to speak to your neighbours and find out how they feel about it – are they keen and would like to rent a space as well? Or are they worried about the impact on their space for parking, or maybe have some other objection? Richard and Joseba will keep a list of places where there is sufficient interest, and we will find the fairest way of allocating the resources available.
If this has piqued your interest, there is some more information in the documents below.