Safe stor­age for bi­cy­cles should be built into ev­ery home

Yorkshire Post - Property - - PROPERTY - Robin and Pa­tri­cia Sil­ver

THE bi­cy­cle is one of the most po­tent sym­bols of free­dom. Just ask chil­dren who have been given a bike and can sud­denly set out to go where they want, when they want, on a route of their own choice, at a pace that they set them­selves and in the com­pany of whom­so­ever they please.

If you need fur­ther ev­i­dence, take a look at the clas­sic 1948 Ital­ian film Bi­cy­cle Thieves. A man needs a bi­cy­cle to move around Rome past­ing up bill­board advertisements, which pro­vides just enough in­come to sup­port his strug­gling fam­ily. His bi­cy­cle is stolen jeop­ar­dis­ing his job and his fam­ily’s sur­vival and he sets out with his son to find the thief.

If you’re still not con­vinced, re­mem­ber that 43 per cent of Lon­don’s res­i­dents have no ac­cess to a mo­tor car, which may help to ex­plain why the in­tro­duc­tion of the Boris Bikes has been so suc­cess­ful. In cities like York and Hull, the com­mon sight of cy­cles has not di­min­ished and is gen­er­ally recog­nised as the speed­i­est and most eco­nom­i­cal way of trav­el­ling around. This is hardly sur­pris­ing as the num­ber of cars on Bri­tain’s roads has in­creased ten­fold since the start of the Queen’s reign, with ever more dif­fi­cult and ex­pen­sive park­ing ar­range­ments the in­evitable corol­lary.

Bi­cy­cle sales, on the other hand, have also in­creased and there are now about three mil­lion cy­cles sold each year, far more than cars and, on av­er­age, ev­ery other per­son owns a bike. Even more sig­nif­i­cantly, ex­pen­di­ture on cy­cling (which in­cludes re­pairs and ac­ces­sories) has in­creased by 25 per cent in the last few years, whereas ex­pen­di­ture on cars has de­clined.

With all this in­ter­est in cy­cling both for day-to-day com­mut­ing and also for leisure and ex­er­cise, as well as in recog­ni­tion of the en­vi­ron­men­tal ben­e­fits to so­ci­ety at large, it is all the more sur­pris­ing that there are such poor stor­age and park­ing fa­cil­i­ties for bi­cy­cles. If you live in a house with a garage or shed then th­ese be­come the log­i­cal home for your bike but if you don’t have one, your bike ends up block­ing a porch, in the hall or if you live in a flat, propped up in a cor­ner.

There are end­less in­di­vid­ual so­lu­tions to this dilemma in­volv­ing pul­leys to hoist the bike above head height (all right if you have very high ceil­ings), wall brack­ets like the Cy­cloc, or slot­ted stands but most take up some valu­able liv­ing space and are sim­ply in the way.

On a Sun­day morn­ing, you of­ten see rid­ers re­turn­ing from fields or the woods with splat­ter­ings of mud all over their bikes and down the backs of their snug ly­cra tops. The rid­ers can take a shower but where do they con­ve­niently and safely wipe down and wash their two-wheeled trusty steeds? The same prob­lem arises when the bikes go out to work or come home through the pour­ing rain. If they have to be stored inside a flat or car­ried through to a bal­cony (if they’re lucky enough to have one), you’ll suf­fer pud­dles of dirty wa­ter and even tell-tale tyre tracks. There are imag­i­na­tive so­lu­tions in­clud­ing over­sized pet trays, plas­tic sheet­ing and gi­ant bin lin­ers each of which in­evitably has its own short­com­ings.

Plan­ning de­part­ments have be­gun to recog­nise this need and are start­ing to in­sist that res­i­den­tial de­vel­op­ments pro­vide some cy­cle stor­age. De­vel­op­ers have also be­gun to buy into this trend. How­ever, this is not al­ways un­der cover and of­ten hid­den around the back of a build­ing or in a dark, re­mote cor­ner. This can be in­se­cure so all too com­monly bikes end up chained to lamp posts or rail­ings in a more vis­i­ble spot or in larger apart­ment build­ings, you’ll find them clut­ter­ing up the en­trance. There are about 30 mil­lion bikes in this coun­try and var­i­ous govern­ment schemes have been in­tro­duced to en­cour­age cy­cling. With all this go­ing on, it’s sur­pris­ing that the lobby for more thought­ful, safe and cov­ered cy­cle park­ing has not been more strongly voiced.

Robin and Pa­tri­cia Sil­ver are own­ers of The Home store at Salts Mill, Sal­taire, www. the­home­on­line.co.uk

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