22 Jun 2008

Bike Week Report: City Station Bike Coding, Tuesday

A concerted effort on Tuesday evening at St Albans City Station resulted in somewhere between 110 & 120 bikes being post coded (to help them to be returned to owners if recovered after theft).
We manned the bike parking areas on each side of the line, working in teams of two.
Many commuters complained of cycles being stolen - one chap had had 8 bikes stolen in the course of 20 years commuting.
We also gave away a number of cycle alarms which had been purchased at a generously discounted price by a group of local councils - one of which was St Albans. We understand that the station staff are required to respond when a cycle alarm sounds.
The operator First Capital Connect has recently also given out these alarms to season ticket holders.
Both FCC and British Transport Police are keen to reduce cycle theft, but according to some commuters we spoke to the operation of CCTV remains very unsatisfactory.
Another point of commuter complaint was the shortage of cycle parking places. FCC do attend the St Albans Cycling Forum and always indicate their keenness to attract passengers to cycle to the station. They have a rolling programme of cycle parking provision which is gradually being actioned with delivery believed to be on schedule. Let's see if they keep to it.
Be sure to tell STACC of any problems you encounter.


Lee McIvor said...

I'd like to start cycling to the station, but must admit that the potential for theft and the lack of parking put me off. Particularly given the signs everywhere informing me that my bike will be "removed" from the railings.

It seems to me that 20-30% of the bikes parked there are chained to the railings, so there's clearly not enough space.

Also, FCC need to give some real reassurance about theft. Do they monitor the parking with CCTV or otherwise?

Mike1727 said...

I think it's the potential rather then the real risk that's the problem. Buy a decent lock (a U-lock, £30+ is the best), learn how to lock up you bike in a decent space and the thieves will go for other easier pickings.

Space is an issue- get there early?

STACC memsec Tom said...

Mike, No the risk is a very real one - as the post indicates. A number of STACC members have reported thefts to me. Also a chap who works at 'Rock & Road' bike shop was recently telling us about the steady stream of bike theft victims who come into the shop.
One problem might be the targeting of bikes, by observing them on different days to establish the owner's habits, in planning when to strike. Might be a good idea to park in a different place every day.
Other tips: get an old commuting hack for station use - try the St. Albans Auction Centre, Porters Wood Industrial Estate.
Put a child seat on the back of your bike - one member swears by it!
Always park next to a better bike than yours.
See earlier post on station parking HERE

STACC memsec Tom said...

FCC's Larry Heyman responded promptly to our query triggered by Lee's comment:-
As you know, there's a huge demand for cycle parking at both St Albans and Harpenden stations. Within the next couple of weeks we're going to be installing additional Sheffield racks in the station forecourt at St Albans, funded by First Capital Connect. On 9 July I met representatives from both Hertfordshire County Council and St Albans City and District Council to discuss the potential funding for much more cycle parking at both stations. The demand is certainly there and we are working to define additional areas in which cycle parking could be installed.

I'm copying this reply in to Lee Millard, our Access and Inclusion Manager, who will respond to you in more detail.

Then Lee Millard promptly added the detail...
We have an additional 60 spaces being installed at St Albans in week commencing 21st July which I am funding at a cost of £7900. This is in addition to the 40 spaces that Herts CC recently installed in cooperation with us. Laing homes also added a new facility around 6 months ago which has capacity for aprox 40 cycles.

We may be able to add additional facilities in future, though we would need external funding for this. If any group or local authority has cash available I will gladly project manage the work. In terms of getting further FCC funding I would have to say that it would be very unlikely. Our franchise commitment was to spend £100k at 33 stations and we have already spent well over double that, through spending a mixture of external 3rd party funding as well as additional money from within FCC.

So it's good news in the immediate future, but funding might be a problem in the longer term. Though as you can see from the tone of the replies, FCC are keen to provide a good service.
STACC will continue to urge things along.
Lee (McIvor), please keep an eye on the promised installation.

Lee McIvor said...

Well i've got to admit i'm impressed that I got a specific response from FCC directly to my comment, so kudos to FCC for that.

Since moving to St Albans i've been impressed by the number of people who do cycle to the station, so I think it should be encouraged (with actions rather than words) as much as possible. It's good to see FCC making some moves in this direction.