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London Cycling Campaign slams poor bike parking facilities at major hospital in capital following spate of thefts

“I can walk into this storage centre right here with all the angle-grinders and bolt-croppers in the world, and nothing would stop me.”

London Cycling Campaign has criticised one of the capital’s leading hospitals for the poor quality of the bike parking facilities there following a spate of recent bike thefts, saying that they are “completely preventable. In a video posted to Twitter, one member of the campaign group’s staff who went to see for himself what facilities are provided at University College Hospital (UCL) on Euston Road and said, “I can walk into this storage centre right here with all the angle-grinders and bolt-croppers in the world, and nothing would stop me.”

As we reported on our live blog this morning, a bike was stolen from a member of clinical staff at the hospital at the weekend, the second such theft there in a week (the stolen bike in the earlier theft was subsequently recovered), and since the coronavirus crisis began last year, bike parking facilities at hospitals around the country have become a regular target for thieves, especially where security is lax.

In the video posted to Twitter, LCC marketing officer Calum Rogers said: “If you’ve been following our social media recently, we’ve been covering the really awful case of the healthcare worker at UCL who’s had her cycle stolen while voluntarily working weekends.”

“I’ve come to the storage centre where her cycle was stolen myself to see what the deal is, and sadly the first thing you see when you turn up is the scattered, snapped and sawn-through locks [which] really speak for themselves.

“As you walk up and down, there’s plenty of signs from the building managers telling you ‘bicycles are left at the owner’s risk’.

“All around the place there’s plenty of, you know, ‘We love our NHS’ but it really wouldn’t be much in evidence if you came down here to take a look at how the stop their people’s cycles from being stolen.

“In this instance, Humayra is working on a COVID-19 intensive care unit at weekends in her own time.

“While she was working at the weekend, just a couple of days ago, a thief just took her bike from this area in the middle of the day, and it wasn’t here when she got back.”

In July last year, LCC said that some 800 NHS and care workers had signed up as members since April, and sai: “We need more secure cycle parking at hospitals and other health and care premises, particularly in inner London. Everyone who works in the care sector should have a safe place to keep their cycle while at work, and there also must be ample storage for visitors, including people using larger cargo cycles and tricycles.

“The healthcare sector must support them in making that change by supporting the crucial infrastructure changes which make people feel safe in confident in cycling, whether on adaptive cycles such as handcycles and electric-assisted cycles, as well as un-powered two wheelers.”

Rogers, in his video, said: “Transport for London’s been telling the healthcare sector and everyone that when they’re getting from A to B they should consider cycling or walking, and the people who are making the effort to do so, their cycles aren’t safe,” Rogers said.

“Last year, we told the healthcare sector that they need to get better in stopping this from happening, it’s all completely preventable – I can walk into this storage centre right here with all the angle-grinders and bolt-croppers in the world, and nothing would stop me.

“It wouldn’t cost a lot of money to keep this from happening with real, physical security measures.”

He continued: “Thank you to everyone who’s amplified our call on employers to do better in this regard. Some employers have done really well in the past year – we’ve had feedback that Guy’s & St Thomas’ [NHS Foundation Trust] has got really excellent cycle parking, and The Francis Crick Institute, not far from here, has ample parking which is very accessible, and these people are feeling much safer when they park their expensive e-cycles up there.

“But it’s just so maddening because our health and care sector deserves so much more than this.”

He added: “Thank you to the person who chipped in £549 last night to replace the cycle, but what’s going to stop that one from being stolen? You tell me.”

Simon joined road.cc as news editor in 2009 and is now the site’s community editor, acting as a link between the team producing the content and our readers. A law and languages graduate, published translator and former retail analyst, he has reported on issues as diverse as cycling-related court cases, anti-doping investigations, the latest developments in the bike industry and the sport’s biggest races. Now back in London full-time after 15 years living in Oxford and Cambridge, he loves cycling along the Thames but misses having his former riding buddy, Elodie the miniature schnauzer, in the basket in front of him.

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12 comments

Avatar
muhasib | 3 years ago
4 likes

The BBC reported that Captain Sir Tom Moore raised £39m (including Gift Aid) for NHS charities with his efforts. I've read that it goes towards pop up shops, meals and ipads for the benefit of NHS staff and patients. Would not the provision of safe and secure cycle facilities at NHS sites be universally supported by all?

Avatar
Sriracha replied to muhasib | 3 years ago
2 likes

It would be a more enduring legacy, something that could bear his name and continue his memory for years to come. Whereas an iPad or pop-up what not, here today, forgotten tomorrow.

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eburtthebike | 3 years ago
4 likes

As I pointed out elsewhere on this site, the government have £2bn earmarked for cycling that they don't have the faintest idea how to use, so they could start by providing secure cycle parking at all NHS sites.

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Christopher TR1 | 3 years ago
5 likes

I would go further and say that everybody should have safe parking for their bike at work.

We are only trying to save the planet after all!

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nikkispoke replied to Christopher TR1 | 3 years ago
4 likes

We had problems at our work place situated in an East Midlands city on an industrial estate. Where the entrance to the parking area was open from the street and we were told anyone entering was visible from the reception desk. The bicycle parking itself was good with two large shelters with stands facing one another, the rear had a boundary fence so it was just the entrance that was open. Sadly this meant once inside you were not overlooked. After several incidents and thefts they placed in a bit of fence and gate with lock with a simple number code entry not fool proof but it has so far removed any incidents. Sometimes it is just a bit of thought and simple precautions that can make thieves go eslewhere.

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Awavey replied to Christopher TR1 | 3 years ago
0 likes

they should but I think its a complicated request to provide, in older buildings in built up areas especially, which often covers alot of NHS buildings, wheres the space ? and how will you secure it properly ?

I keep wondering if maybe the Dutch have invented some magic solution we've just not copied yet, but they just dont seem to have the same bike theft problem.

Avatar
eburtthebike replied to Awavey | 3 years ago
4 likes

Awavey wrote:

they should but I think its a complicated request to provide, in older buildings in built up areas especially, which often covers alot of NHS buildings, wheres the space ? and how will you secure it properly ?

I keep wondering if maybe the Dutch have invented some magic solution we've just not copied yet, but they just dont seem to have the same bike theft problem.

It's actually very simple; convert the car parking into secure cycle parking.  There will be a few screams from the drivers, especially the consultants, but it works, as the Dutch found out forty years ago when they did it at their Transport Ministry.

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Awavey replied to eburtthebike | 3 years ago
0 likes

But it assumes there is space for car parking to swap out to begin with and that's not always the case ime in inner city locations. It's an easy politician style statement imo to just demand secure cycle parking everywhere, and it solves it, I mean great idea, we are all on board with that, I wouldnt cycle to work if I felt the storage was unsecured, but the reality is more often complicated by other competing considerations,that building owners or businesses have no control over.

I mean the LCCs complaint is first & foremost anyone can access the current cycle storage areas and axle grind to their hearts content. Well that's still true of secure cycle facilities as cyclists at Cambridges secure railway cycle park will tell you,it might lower the number of bikes stolen,but it doesnt wholly prevent it.

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mdavidford replied to Awavey | 3 years ago
0 likes

It wouldn't necessarily have to be directly on the premises, though. It would probably be rare that there wasn't any suitable location within a few minutes' walk that could be used, particularly if it was a shared hub. If you roped in businesses in the area as well, you could even potentially get them to chip in to reduce the cost.

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jh2727 replied to Awavey | 3 years ago
2 likes

Awavey wrote:

But it assumes there is space for car parking to swap out to begin with and that's not always the case ime in inner city locations.

It is exactly because parking is so limited that some of it should be given over to secure cycle parking. My wife was in hospital earlier this week and when I went to collect her, there were cars double parked in the multi-storey - people had parked in the road between the bays on one floor, so that only half the floor was accessible. This is at a time when visiting is not allowed and a lot of outpatient procedures are being put on hold. People who work at the hospital tell me that they'll often spend 40 minutes driving around the car park trying to find a space. However, I would never lock my bike up at the hospital - if my wife had needed me to drop some things off to her at the ward, I probably would have ridden there and taken my bike in with me (no doubt someone would complain, but compared to the alternatives, that is a price worth paying).

Awavey wrote:

I mean the LCCs complaint is first & foremost anyone can access the current cycle storage areas and axle grind to their hearts content. Well that's still true of secure cycle facilities as cyclists at Cambridges secure railway cycle park will tell you,it might lower the number of bikes stolen,but it doesnt wholly prevent it.

Except you wouldn't need an angle grinder at Cambridge's "secure railway cycle park" - reportedly, a lot of the Sheffield stands aren't even bolted to the floor properly. Calling something 'secure cycle parking' and it actually being secure are two entirely different things.

All that said, I would prefer my bike to be stolen when it was parked, than when I am riding it. If we go to far securing cycle parking we could see an increase in bike-jacking - so I'm not really sure what the solution is.

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wycombewheeler replied to Awavey | 3 years ago
0 likes

Awavey wrote:

I keep wondering if maybe the Dutch have invented some magic solution we've just not copied yet, but they just dont seem to have the same bike theft problem.

It could be that everyone has a beater for commuting, shopping and locking outside. Therefore where is the market for selling these bikes? everyone has one, no one needs one. Valuable bikes just used for proper rides not everyday use.

Although it seems dutch rioters are happy to use the bikes of others as barricades against the police.

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Sriracha replied to Christopher TR1 | 3 years ago
5 likes
Christopher TR1 wrote:

I would go further and say that everybody should have safe parking for their bike at work.

We are only trying to save the planet after all!

True, should be available to all. However for the NHS it is especially true, since cycling is known to save the NHS money. It is preventative health care, should be a core part of what they do. The fact that it is also a transport solution and an environmental solution too is just a bonus!
Physician, heal thyself.

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