Tuesday, 3 May 2011

Surrey village has more ambitious plan for cycling than the City of London

Extensive cycle parking at St Paul's: Working here?
You can lock up to some railings...
The City of London, like other boroughs, is developing a Local Development Framework. The key plank of this is a document called the Core Strategy, which was sent to the Secretary of State for Communities & Local Government last December for approval.

The reference to cycling in the City's Core Strategy states the following:

My own view is that pedestrians and cyclists need to have more road space and that is incompatible with retaining road capacity for those who 'depend' on motor vehicle access. I'm not sure how many people in the City of London truly 'depend' on motor vehicle access. And I'm not sure why cycling has to be labelled as 'responsible' but there is no such compulsion on the drivers of motor vehicles, which are the cause of almost all the people killed or seriously injured on the City's roads.

It doesn't have to be this way. Hackney's Core Strategy realises that motor vehicle use needs to start giving way to people who cycle and walk. While the City of London stresses that it won't reduce road capacity for 'those who depend on motor vehicle[s]', Hackney will be 'encouraging a shift from car usage to public transport, walking and cycling'.

But it's not just Hackney that can shame the City of London as a backwater of modern traffic and town planning.

Let us take the case of Waverley borough council in the south of Surrey - a leafy, semi-rural area comprised of small towns in rolling hills. The borough is relatively pro-cycling. It is considering proposals for minimum standards for cycle parking in new B1 office space of one bicycle space per 125 square metres. That should, in the minds of Waverley councillors, equate to one bicycle space per ten members of staff. Not bad.

In the City of London, meanwhile, the equivalent requirement is for one space for every 250 sqm. This is because the City's guidance on office use suggests that each member of staff should have an incredible 25 sqm of gross floor space (that includes a bit of corridor, stairwell and lavatory as well as the space around their own desk). 

Senior City officials and politicians like to claim that the policy equates to one bicycle space per 10 employees. But if you apply the Waverley ratio, then that City mantra is clearly rubbish because it would equate to less than one bike parking space per 20 members of staff.

We went to a talk recently by Land Securities about one of their new schemes in the City of London where they told us they assume 10sqm gross floor space per member of staff. So, by Land Securities' own measure, the City fathers are currently encouraging only one bicycle space per 25 members of staff. Nothing like the one in 10 ratio that senior City planners seem to think Square Mile employees are enjoying in their gleaming new offices.

There is some movement, though. The City is drafting a new cycle parking strategy where it may amend the cycle parking ratio to one per 160 sqm. So, using the Land Securities ratio, that would make one cycle parking space per 16 employees. Still nowhere near the one in 10 ratio that the City would like to believe it is setting in its planning guidance.

On the one hand, we have Land Securities, one of the biggest City developers and we have Waverley Borough Council. Both give us an indication that to get one bike parking space per 10 employees, you need to install roughly 1 bike stand per 100 - 125 sqm. But for some magical reason, the City of London reckons that ratio is somewhere between 160 - 250 sqm.


  1. What does the City actually mean by people who "depend" on motor vehicle access? The plumber or electrician, who cannot realistically carry all his tools and materials without a van? The seriously ill, or road accident victims, who need to be taken to a hospital fast, in an ambulance? Refuse lorries removing rubbish from homes and offices? If that is really what the City meant by people who "depend" on motor vehicles I don't imagine anyone would disagree.

    Or, more likely, do they include those people who "need" a taxi or minicab to take them to a meeting less than a mile away which they could reach almost as fast on foot? Or people who "need" to drive their Range Rovers to work because we all know that it is a jungle out there (the ads tell us so) and trains and tubes can't possibly get you there as fast or as reliably - can they?

    Hackney actually prioritises road users including motors just like that - after walking and cycling, come essential services, tradesmen, public transport and only last of all, the private motor car. The City has, so far, refused to follow.

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