Cycle Parking at Stations
Cycling is of growing impor-tance for users and operators of stations, with sustainable access being highlighted as a requirement by the Department for Transport (DfT), throwing the spotlight on high quality provision of cycle parking.
In the Netherlands a mixed-modal approach is adopted at stations, ensuring a seamless transfer from bike to rail, and as a conse-quence 42% of rail passengers are able to arrive by bike, as there are facilities for them to park. There are a total of 416,000 cycle parking spaces at stations in the Netherlands, equating to an average of 1,025 spaces per station, whilst only a handful of the 2,566 sta-tions in the UK reach or surpass this level of parking.
Within the UK, the DfT produced a ‘Cycle Rail Toolkit 2’ setting out the parameters for what makes good cycle parking design and provi-sion, and formulae can assess how many cy-cle spaces might be required for specific sta-tions. A simpler approach to the quantum of cycle parking was within ‘Better Rail Stations, 2009’, which suggested 5% of all arrival pas-sengers should be able to park a bike.
Regardless of how to calculate the level of parking required, accommodating a large quantum of bikes posses several issues with the key ones being space availability and theft, which are difficult to address with traditional solutions.
Eco Cycle is a robotic cycle parking system that securely stores 204 bikes either below or above the ground, utilising a small footprint, and offering a high level of convenience. The system has been operating in Japan for twenty years, and has a particularly high operational track record with very low incident rates.
Eco Cycle addresses all the points raised with-in the DfT’s Toolkit, providing an innovative solution that brings additional benefits for us-ers and rail operators.
Key benefits of adopting Eco Cycle at stations:
– The below ground store has a visible ac-cess pod and entrance utilising 8.4 sqm, opposed to requiring 137 sqm or more for parking 204 bikes in two-tier racking and up to 318 sqm in Sheffield-type stands.
– The above ground system has a ground floor footprint of 57 sqm, and it is feasible to raise the store to first floor level, reduc-ing its impact on the ground to 8.4 sqm.
– The release of space can be used for a va-riety of value-add uses including: valuable commercial buildings that can increase a stations offering; provision of more bikes either within additional Eco Cycle stores or traditional parking plus parking for special-ised bikes; public showers, toilets and locker facilities; or simply improve the public realm.
– With the small footprint it is feasible to lo-cate the store in a convenient and accessi-ble position, encouraging greater usage.
– Theft of bikes is a deterrent for people cy-cling and parking bikes at stations. When a bike is stolen the DfT report there is a 22% chance that person will stop cycling.
– Eco Cycle has had zero theft in Japan in twen-ty years. The below ground store is naturally more impregnable, and the above ground store will follow ‘Secure by Design’ standards and offer a high degree of protection.
– Theft of bikes can utilise station staff time in reviewing CCTV footage and taking state-ments, which can be a cost to the operator.
– Unlike traditional stores, which still have a perception of theft, no one enters the Eco Cycle store, so possessions and kit can safely remain attached to the bike.
– High value bikes are becoming more prev-alent, and this includes e-Bikes that should be encouraged as they enable people of all ages and abilities to cycle.
– Having a single entrance that is lit and overlooked by CCTV gives users confi-dence, particularly where they don’t have to enter a building and are only waiting a few seconds for their bike. Vulnerable users can be deterred where the facility is ‘round-the-back’ or hidden by shadows.
– A call or help button at the entrance of the store is readily accessible to raise an alert if necessary.
– Abandoned or garaged bikes can easily be tracked, identified and removed with-out having to cut locks or use station staff to constantly monitor racks.
– All users will be registered, providing valu-able information to station operators and relevant authorities.
– As part of the registration process, the bikes serial number will be taken and added to the national database, helping prevent further theft.
– Identified bikes of interest can be moni-tored remotely with CCTV on the cradle that transports the bikes within the store, able to view every single rack, and au-tomatically retrieve bikes for inspection where necessary.
– If there is an incident at the station then full control of the store can be obtained, preventing retrieval or depositing of bikes for instance.
– The average retrieval time is only 13 sec-onds, ranging from 8 to 17 seconds. Even if there is a queuing situation, retrieval and drop-off times average 20 seconds.
– Users can see availability of spaces prior to setting out on their journey, reducing the risk of parking, and encouraging the jour-ney to be taken by bike. Real time data can improve user information and experience on the train operator and Network Rail’s apps.
– Traditional parking can appear full even if there is surplus capacity, deterring people from attempting to cycle and park there.
– Where users know they can securely park in Eco Cycle, then they don’t require cum-bersome locks and chains.
– Being able to safely leave possessions (in-cluding helmets) attached to the bike re-moves the hassle of taking it off and car-rying the kit with you.
– Having peace of mind that your bike will be there on your return as theft can be an expensive inconvenience when having to make alternative travel arrangements.
– For large cycle stores with hundreds of bikes it can be hard to locate a space (which can cause frustration when catch-ing a train) and hard to recall where the bike was left. With Eco Cycle, if you forget which store your bike is in then swiping your access card will inform where it is parked.
– Where cycle parking is convenient and secure, then it can entice more people to make the journey by bike, and increase sustainable travel to the station.
– Users don’t have to negotiate doors, lifts or ramps with their bikes, with Eco Cy-cle’s access pod and entrance located at ground level.
– Within the access pod it is possible to inte-grate air pumps and other accessories for users.
– Technology is rapidly improving, and Eco Cycle is investigating charging e-Bikes whilst they are parked, providing further convenience for users.
– Eco Cycle is easier to clean and monitor than traditional stores, saving labour time.
– Available to users 24/7, with no risk in leaving your bike parked overnight.
– The station can have a servicing agree-ment with a cycle maintenance company, who can service people’s bikes without the need for their keys or them to be present, creating user satisfaction whilst earning revenue for the station operator.
– The interactive user information & con-trol screens at the entrance of Eco Cycle can also display live train departure times and show local cycle network maps for in-stance. Advertising can be an additional source of revenue that could be substan-tial where sizeable screens are permitted.
– Charging users to park is possible as each space in Eco Cycle is uniquely identifiable. Different charging regimes are feasible for the same store, with annual or daily charges, and parking could potentially be freely available for an initial time pe-riod, with charges being taken automati-cally. The ratio of different regimes can be set in real time according to demand.
– Abandonment and garaging of bikes takes up valuable parking spaces from le-gitimate users, and this can be deterred where there is a charging regime.
– Cycle hire bikes could also use the same store, thereby offering an additional source of revenue and increasing the of-fering to users and further reducing the footprint of cycle parking at the station.
– Eco Cycle can provide data analytics, re-porting accurate daily usage, which can have a value for Corporate Social Respon-sibility commitments and other interested groups.
– Servicing and maintenance is on a pre-ventative regime, and in Japan there is a very low incident rate. Apex Lifts are the manufacturers and service providers in the UK and can offer 24/7 off-site man-agement and monitoring of the system, with savings for multiple installations in a single location.
– The design of the outward appearance of Eco Cycle can be adapted to suite the lo-cality of the installation, and thereby be sympathetic to the built environment.
Nick Knight is Managing Director of Eco Cycle