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Cyclist raises theft fears as bike rack easily unscrewed... but council says cycle parking "meets design requirements"

The council said it was not aware of any reports of a bike being stolen and said the rack "uses standard fixtures"...

An Edinburgh cyclist has raised the alarm about bike thefts after seeing one of the city's cycle racks, installed as part of the Trams to Newhaven project, unusable having been seemingly easily unscrewed from the ground.

Edward Tissiman shared photos on social media of the cycle-parking facility, the middle of the five racks lying on its side with the attachments used to fix it to the ground next to it.

"It appears that a bike has been stolen at Dalmeny Street/Leith Walk," he warned. "The thief has just unscrewed the rack. Please share far and wide so no one else suffers this. If only someone had warned the Trams to Newhaven project, eh?"

The question came a month after, in another social media post, Edward had asked the council to confirm its bike racks were "immovable" as per his bike insurance provider's requirement that bikes are "securely locked to an immovable object". At the time, the Edinburgh cyclist speculated that the racks could be easily removed with an allen key, but never heard a response from City of Edinburgh Council.

 A little over a month later and the fears became a reality.

Responding to road.cc, City of Edinburgh Council was keen to point out it had not received any report of the criminal damage resulting in a bike being stolen, and stressed the racks "meet the project's design requirements and use standard fixtures".

Councillor Scott Arthur, the council's transport and environment convener, told us: "The cycle parking installed as part of Trams to Newhaven meets the project's design requirements and uses standard fixtures. We have not had any report of a bike being stolen, but we are aware of unacceptable criminal damage to a bike rack.

"We will continue to remain vigilant and monitor the use of the bike racks, and work with police where appropriate."

Returning to the insurance question, Edward contacted his provider, Admiral, to ask for further clarification on whether locking his bike to one of the racks would keep his cover valid.

"An immovable object is," he was told. "A solid object that cannot be removed by lifting it under or over the object. A purposely designed fixed bike rack like those found in town centres, train stations etc. A purposely designed bike rack securely attached to a vehicle."

Definitions and terms will differ with other insurance providers, however Edward said, despite the second 'fixed bike rack' mention he had "been advised not to use them".

Back in June, cyclists in Leamington Spa raised similar concerns after discovering that new cycle stands at the entrance to Aldi could be lifted out of the ground.

Aldi's removable bike parking, Leamington Spa (Claire Lucas, Twitter)

Work to fix the stands was undertaken immediately, the supermarket told road.cc, while West Midlands walking and cycling commissioner Adam Tranter, who praised the facilities last year as an example of how it is "possible for supermarkets to do cycle parking right", also expressed disappointment at the pick-up-and-go bike stands, saying he "had such high hopes."

Dan joined road.cc in 2020, and spent most of his first year (hopefully) keeping you entertained on the live blog. At the start of 2022 he took on the role of news editor. Before joining road.cc, Dan wrote about various sports, including football and boxing for the Daily Express, and covered the weird and wonderful world of non-league football for The Non-League Paper. Part of the generation inspired by the 2012 Olympics, Dan has been 'enjoying' life on two wheels ever since and spends his weekends making bonk-induced trips to the petrol stations of the south of England.

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16 comments

Avatar
marmotte27 | 7 months ago
3 likes

"Councillor Scott Arthur, the council's transport and environment convener, told us: "The cycle parking installed as part of Trams to Newhaven meets the project's design requirements and uses standard fixtures. We have not had any report of a bike being stolen, but we are aware of unacceptable criminal damage to a bike rack.

"We will continue to remain vigilant and monitor the use of the bike racks, and work with police where appropriate.""

Why do the replies in these cases invariably read like an aboslute pisstake?

Avatar
Flâneur replied to marmotte27 | 7 months ago
1 like

Everything from Scott Arthur reads like an absolute pisstake. Because he's a cowardly halfwit who's miles out of his depth.

"unacceptable criminal damage" = unscrewing a fundamentally insecure rack installed at public expense and leaving both the rack and bolts at the scene. If no bikes were stolen, I'd call it public service.

 

Avatar
Fignon's ghost | 7 months ago
4 likes

Why lug a portable angle grinder around when a portable Allen key will do the trick.
Now then. I fancy a brand new souped up roller skate.

Taxi to Dalmeny Street please.. just give me two minutes please driver....

Council planners = idiots(£***wits)

Avatar
ktache | 7 months ago
2 likes

Standard fixings can be removed using standard tools.

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chrisonabike replied to ktache | 7 months ago
4 likes

Security screw.  The security is you need a screwdriver to remove it, and if you haven't got an electric one it can take 20 seconds!  Even the "professionals" forget about this cunning bypass!

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Backladder | 7 months ago
1 like

There appears to be a more secure metal bike rack in the background of one of the pictures!

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jkirkcaldy | 7 months ago
1 like

Edward Tissiman has made the cardinal sin of preemptively asking his insurance company, now if he uses one of these racks they can say, "ah well, we told you not to use these, policy invalid"

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brooksby | 7 months ago
2 likes

  So thieves can use screwdrivers: who knew? (clearly nobody at the council even considered this...).

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chrisonabike replied to brooksby | 7 months ago
3 likes

Likely due dilligence in this case simply meant "buy from a supplier who can deliver at a reasonable price".  It's possibly their "arms-length" tram company again.

To be fair to them the "bolt-down" rack seems a very common design.  Like a cheap lock probably "good enough" much of the time - until it's not.  Maybe there are some with some kind of security bolts - I'd imagine those could be retrofitted in many cases?

EDIT - looks like you can certainly get one-way shear-off bolts.  Probably be a couple of grand by the time they factor in all the "going round getting it done" and paperwork but surely that would be "the right thing" plus extremely small beer in cost terms.  What has the tram as a whole (or even this recent extension) cost us again...?

I'd be leery about leaving any bike worth more than a couple of hundred secured in any public area overnight - angle grinders will find any weak link.  My good bikes aren't getting left out of my sight.

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edcyclist replied to chrisonabike | 7 months ago
9 likes

Seems maybe they don't comply with Edinburgh's guidance:
"Surface fixing (3) is permittable only
in exceptional circumstances where
utilities in the ground do not allow
core fixing or retention sockets."
 

 

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chrisonabike replied to edcyclist | 7 months ago
1 like

Yes - like many councils we've got all the paperwork.  Nice to find someone who hopes that all things the council is involved in will follow that though...

Anyway - a good spot.  I'm not on whatever Twitter is calling itself now (is it back to "Twitter" already?) but might be worth a ping to the reporter (Edward Tissiman) and the transport convener Councillor Scott Arthur / Spokes (local campaign group)? (Who am I kidding - "utilities" has been cited to cover all kinds of woes with the tram project).

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Sriracha replied to edcyclist | 7 months ago
6 likes

Excellent work. Note that they are non-compliant also in that they lack the required "tapping rail". If the did have the tapping rail then the crims would need to cart your bike away with the Sheffield Stand still attached, which might make them think twice about the wisdom of unscrewing it from the ground in the first place.

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brooksby replied to Sriracha | 7 months ago
1 like
Sriracha wrote:

Excellent work. Note that they are non-compliant also in that they lack the required "tapping rail". If the did have the tapping rail then the crims would need to cart your bike away with the Sheffield Stand still attached, which might make them think twice about the wisdom of unscrewing it from the ground in the first place.

That "tapping rail" across the middle?  I don't think I have ever seen a Sheffield stand with one of those...

(And I've started checking the stands I regularly park at - the ones outside the Clifton Down shopping centre in Bristol have no tapping rail and are bolted down.  Looks like a 15mm nut)

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edcyclist replied to brooksby | 7 months ago
4 likes

"Tapping rail" is the recommended standard in Edinburgh. Forgot the they have the added advantage of preventing the lock being slid off the end! Here are some on Forrest Road.

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Flâneur replied to brooksby | 7 months ago
3 likes
brooksby wrote:

  So thieves can use screwdrivers: who knew? (clearly nobody at the council even considered this...).

Nobody at City of Edinburgh Council or its 'arms-length' bodies (translation: all the easier to fist the residents with) ever pre-empts anything to do with cyclists' safety or security, or Edinburgh's rampant scofflaw driver behaviour (see episodes passim: getting many cyclists injured and 1 killed on the fundamentally unsafe tram tracks from Trams phase 1, resulting in them being sued for millions; lack of bollards to prevent pavement parking all over new cycle infra; failing to enforce its own newly installed left turn prohibitions resulting in pedestrians nearly getting killed, etc)

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Fignon's ghost replied to brooksby | 7 months ago
2 likes

Council planners = muppets

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