A shift towards more sustainable
transport systems within Britain has been gathering momentum over recent
years. Exacerbated by increased costs associated with driving - petrol,
insurance, environmental and otherwise, have been steadily influencing policy
and more recently individual choices. According to cycling Birmingham "26,000
people get on their bikes every day"; with Sustrans reporting that "2 out
of 5 local journeys are made by bike". This is likely to see further rapid
growth as pressures increase and individuals are increasingly reviewing
how they travel in an effort to reduce outgoings during this economic downturn.
Birmingham has actively encouraged this growth supporting the 'bike to work'
scheme, an annual car free day (22nd September 2011) and it has many active
agents which consistently push to build on these changes and promote long-term
change in the city.
Despite this the city has
not currently responded satisfactorily to the barriers reported by individuals
which would facilitate the transfer of strategy to action; including the
"lack of adequate (bicycle)
parking, change and washing/ storage facilities at work"
Introducing a central 'cycle
station' would reinforce national and local strategy and policy and eradicate
current issues & barriers, whilst at the same time act as an income generator.
The 'cycle station' concept has been designed and developed on, the basis
that there is a need to provide centralised, secure bike storage and associated
- Washrooms/ shower and
toilet facilities - The provision of washrooms will include
the standard items (basins, wc's and shower cubicles) all of which should
be designed to a high specification. The shower cubicles should be large
enough to accommodate an individual to shower and change into work clothes
unhindered without getting their clothes damp. This will require a larger
than usual shower room with good ventilation. The use of the showers will
be restricted to specific members, via an access control system managed
by a central team.
- Lockers - There
will be personal lockers hired out on a monthly/ annual basis in line
with membership in addition to the provision of public lockers used on
a 'pay as you go' basis. This facility enables the user to leave personal
belongings on-site reducing the need to carry luggage around.
Other complimentary services
that could be resident include:
- Laundry Services - Intended
to enable the member to leave clothing on-site to either be dry-cleaned
or laundered to enhance their experience and reduce the barriers to cycling.
This service could be extended to a wider clientele noting that it will
be well positioned on one of the cities major pedestrian routes.
- Bike maintenance, service
- Café with wi-fi (with
potential for licensed evening facilities) - The location
of a café on-site would be an excellent revenue generating opportunity,
enabling cyclists to access refreshments easily but also to encourage
both cyclists and the general public to interact, and therefore acting
as a marketing agent for the cycle station.
- Cycle hire/ sales
- Exercise facilities/ gym
- Physiotherapy (or other
associated health/ complementary health) services
Creating a central cycle station
will build upon the recent growth in commuting cyclists, both enhancing
their experience whilst providing a highly visible focus for cycling within
our city; reinforcing the physical relationships between cyclists an the
public at large.
There is currently very little
competition in Birmingham and only a few examples nationally which are in
early stages of establishing themselves. The most prominent example in London
- H2, Carnaby Street, provides josta cycle racks and CCTV giving provision
for 230 bikes stored at one time. In this example the bike park is adjacent
to club facilities including a retail element and service centre providing
39 showers, changing rooms and lockers for hire (personal and public). They
operate a concierge system including dry-cleaning, puncture repair and towel/
Another example in Leeds,
based at the station - Cyclepoint "offers secure and fully staffed storage
for over 300 bicycles. In addition, it offers maintenance and repair services
on a 'bring in the morning, collect in the evening' basis, as well as bike
and accessory sales, a bicycle rental scheme and local cycling information."
Other examples across Britain
which partly meet this demand are:
- Scottish Bike Charity
- Cook Mum - Clerkenwell
- Micycle - Barnsbury street
- Lock 7 - Hackney
- Cycle lab - Pitfield street
Who provide a mixture of the
proposed components including refurbing and servicing/ selling old bikes,
hiring out workshop space for others to mend their own bikes and providing
cycle friendly café and bar facilities services but no washing or retail
There are a number of possible
options which could be explored dependent on the outcome of investment and
aligned interest (i.e. community interest, private or publically owned/managed)
Essentially each component could be run collectively as one business or
as individual interests aligned by an agreement which builds on their co-location
(which should be reinforced in the design/ build of the space) and the associated
principles of the scheme.
The cycle station will operate
as many of the proposed facilities that can be accommodated with priority
areas being the bicycle station/ storage, lockers, washing facilities, concierge
services and café. Looking at similar business models the best system appears
to be based on a membership agreement with monthly/ annual subscription
fees to a staggered level of service - standard, premium, deluxe, influenced
by when and what the member accesses. The basic charge would take into consideration
an overall management/ administration fee to account for the access card,
security set-up, costs of running and maintaining the shower rooms, storage
facility/ CCTV and one member of staff. Other components including the café,
retail unit etc would be self sufficient in terms of impact on the membership
fee so additional items to consider, and dependent on uptake, would include
the concierge element (e.g. towels/ laundry). Revenues could potentially
be increased by introducing a different price band for high or low frequent
users or those 'on-peak' or 'off peak' users; although a flat rate may be
more preferable to simplify the membership process and encourage uptake.
The option for 'pay as you
go' access would be kept available to encourage initial use with a view
to converting to longer-term membership. Additionally on-line booking facilities
should be made available to minimise administration and to ensure services
are fully accessible and inclusive.
Noting local and national
strategy and policy it would be an opportunity to approach local businesses
for a corporate membership to which they can then evidence as fulfilling
their requirement to provide appropriate services to their staff.
There are a number of possible
local businesses that may be interested in residing/ investing in one or
more of the cycle station components who should be approached as part of
a next stage to consult on any outline proposal.
- Birmingham Friends of the
- Cycle4u (Birmingham cycle
- Birmingham Pushbikes
- Birmingham University,
Bicycle Users Group
- National Business Travel
- Birmingham Cycle shops
e.g. On your bike, Sprocket cycles, Evans cycles. Icycle
A stakeholder group should
consider wider interested parties such as bike companies, gyms and also
potential end users such as those that could be found from the increasing
bike polo scene emerging within Birmingham. (Birmingham Bike polo)
Birmingham City Council would
be instrumental in the future of the proposal noting the influence on land
use and ownership and possible funding available under cycling promotion
initiatives under its portfolio.
There is also some mileage
in Birmingham utilising a section 106 agreements in gaining a contribution,
or accommodation from one or more of the large inner-city developments that
are anticipated over the coming months and years.
In essence other models appearing
nationally indicate that the mixed-use development provides a viable and
profitable business opportunity with many other long-term benefits for both
individuals and the community.