Cycling could get boost through bid for many more secure lock-up spots

Business bosses are exploring whether a network of secure cycle parking hubs could be created in Nor

Business bosses are exploring whether a network of secure cycle parking hubs could be created in Norwich. Picture: ANTONY KELLY - Credit: Archant

An innovative network of places offering secure cycle parking could be created by Norwich businesses to encourage more people to use their bicycles for work.

Martin Blackwell of Norwich BID. Picture: Norwich BID

Martin Blackwell of Norwich BID. Picture: Norwich BID - Credit: Norwich BID

In the wake of coronavirus, business leaders are looking at ways to increase walking and cycling, to ensure public transport can cope with social distancing and that people don’t simply take to their cars to clog up roads.

Norwich Business Improvement District (BID) is exploring whether businesses across the city would be keen to create secure cycle parking - to build up a network for use by workers and, in some cases, by members of the public.

There is already an automated, secure cycle park at the Chapelfield shopping centre, run by Sekura-Byk and backed by Norwich BID, Norwich City Council and Norfolk police.

But the BID believes there is scope for more and is talking to businesses about whether they might want to install them, potentially subsidised through money the government has said it will give councils to encourage more cycling.

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As well as providing secure cycle parking at their place of work, each of the locks would form part of a single network, so people could ride their bicycles from one hub and use their account to park in another one.

There would be a small cost to pay to use the system. That cost, possibly £1 a day, could be paid by cyclists or by their employers and, in some hubs, the public could park their cycles.

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Martin Blackwell, from Norwich BID, said it was early days, but they were keen to find out whether businesses supported the idea in principle.

He said: “This is something which we have been planning for a long time. But with the issues around social distancing and public transport, it’s particularly pertinent now.

“When we did some research into why people said they wouldn’t cycle, the number one reason was over security - that their bike wouldn’t be there at the end of the day.

“The secure pilot facility which we have at Chapelfield has 150 people registered to use it, so we know that people want to be using their bicycles.”

A spokesman for Norfolk County Council said: “As part of our strategic planning around walking and cycling, access to secure cycle parking, both at home and at work, has been identified as a key barrier.

“The council is working closely with Norwich BID to identify whether there are any opportunities to enable further secure cycle parking in the city centre.”

‘Anything we can do to aid our staff in getting to work would be welcome’

The idea of a new network of cycle lock-up hubs was welcomed by the chief executive of a Norwich solicitors.

James Knight, chief executive of Cathedral Close-based Spire Solicitors, said recent years had seen an increase in the number of his staff cycling to work.

He said: “At the moment, we don’t have anywhere to secure them and we have had bicycles stolen from behind our premises.

“It means that we are currently having to bring the cycles into the building.

“If there was somewhere secure nearby where we could pay for places for staff to secure their bicycles, then that is something we would be interested in.

“Anything we can do to aid our staff in getting to work would be welcome.

“We have people who cycle in from as far away as Brundall and there’s a wide range of ages who cycle, all the way up to people in their sixties.”

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