We have some great cycling facilities at the University campus, including schemes to make bike purchasing easier, swipe card-protected covered parking, repair stands and regular events aimed at increasing the number of regular cyclists. So successful have these incentives been, that now 11% of staff regularly cycle to work1; that’s about 1,100 people. This is great news, until you realise that there are only 1,031 covered bike spaces to park in – a third of which are shared with the students, who also cycle in large numbers. That’s a lot of people competing for not many spaces to keep their bikes from rusting in the Manchester rain. Contrast this to the situation with car parking provision, and we find that, although only 2,604 staff regularly drive1, there are 3,124 car parking spaces on campus2!
Some very dedicated people have been collecting data on cycle shelter usage3, and regularly find that in peak times they are filled to capacity (and beyond, you often see extra bikes jammed into unlikely spaces in desperation). It’s impossible to say what effect this might be having on the uptake of cycling – who wants to make the change to a regular cycle commute if the chances are that their beloved bike will be exposed to the elements all day? It’s also a pretty regular sight to see cyclists taking their bikes into buildings, much to the exasperation of cleaners, fire safety officers and anyone who trips over it in the office.
All of which sounds like a big moan, and the intention is not to say that there is some zero-sum game with cycle and car parking provision, but to underline that the disconnect between the relative provision for each travel mode seems out of kilter with the University’s sustainable travel goals, one of which is to reach 25% of staff regularly engaging in ‘active travel’ by 20224. So we’re starting a petition to ask the University to invest in more covered bike stands. It can be accessed here (University login required). Please read it and submit your agreement to the statement, we aim to take it to the University this summer.
3Data gathered by UMBUG shelter guardians Jan 2015 – Nov 2016
4UoM Living Campus Plan, Environmental Sustainability