Published on April 30, 2014 | by Rebekah Thompson0
Who really helps cyclists feel secure?
“Cycling in London is about 25 per cent safer than it was 10 years ago” says Transport for London (TfL) commissioner Sir Peter Hendy in the Mayor of London’s Cycle Vision statement of 2013. Yet, after 13 cycling deaths in London last year, I don’t feel “25 per cent safer” and I’m not the only one.
I conducted a survey of UAL students about cycling; 50 per cent of respondents said they do not cycle to university because it is “too dangerous” and with 50 per cent of respondents admitting to having had property stolen when cycling, it is not just the roads that are an issue for student cyclists.
Philip Speakman, a first-year Fine Art student at CSM (Central St. Martins) had his bike stolen from Brick Lane in October last year. The bike was worth an estimated £200 and would save Philip an estimated £15 per week when visiting galleries on his course, it is big loss to anyone especially a student:
“I left my bike chained up on the corner of Sclater Street when I was going to Brick Lane Market. Later, I went to meet a friend at Shoreditch High Street, I thought I should check my bike as we passed it; when I arrived it wasn’t there, neither was the chain.
“He said I should have immediately dialled 999… I didn’t realise you could make an emergency call for stolen property.” Philip Speakman, Student at CSM
“We went back onto Sclater Street where they sell second hand and allegedly stolen bikes, there was a guy sitting with my bike on the pavement. I approached him and said ‘Excuse me that’s my bike!’
“He claimed he had just bought the bike because he was a trader, but his lack of stall or any other wares made this hard to believe. He refused to give it back to me claiming I had no proof, but he would sell it back to me at £70.
“After trying to find a police station, I met a private security officer and explained what had happened. He said I should have immediately dialled 999 to say my bike had been stolen and that I could see the suspect; I didn’t realise you could make an emergency call for stolen property.
“The police did a surprising amount to follow up the theft; they are keen to crack down on the stolen bike trade in Brick Lane.
“I was visited by two police officers at my halls, unfortunately they never caught anyone or retrieved the bike.”
Whilst this incident did not occur on university property, it highlights the fact that security is still a major issue for student cyclists especially as there is limited bike storage across the university. Incidents like this happen every day in London.
Education Officer Hannah Roberts is a keen cyclist, she cycles over 80 miles per week between colleges so she knows a thing or two about life as a cyclist at UAL:
“When I was a course rep in my final year (2012-13) I bought up the issue of bicycle parking at LCC; when the Olympics were on there was lots of parking and no issues with space. After the Olympics, parking was taken away and it became an issue yet again.
“Lockers for LCC students is an interesting point… It would be great to know if this is what students would like.” Hannah Roberts, UAL Education Officer
Since originally speaking to Hannah, new cycle stores have been built in front of LCC meaning that cyclists no longer have to risk chaining their bikes to the subway railings. There are now 3 enclosed cycling compounds, two for students and one for staff. Each compound can hold up to 20 bikes, and the combinations to the locked sheds are available free from reception staff.
The new stores, along with additional bike racks should allow more students to have the option of cycling to class instead of depending on increasingly expensive public transport.
Hannah also told us that extra bike storage has been added at Camberwell college, however this is only available to staff members.
If anyone has any questions or thoughts about cycling, and the facilities available at UAL we encourage you to email Hannah.
Whilst inadequate facilities remain a major issue across the university, the UAL have been working closely with TFL and the London Cycling Campaign over recent months and have hosted a series of free cycling events across the university to encourage cyclists, most recently 23rd January at Camberwell, which included:
- Free bike repairs and check-ups
- Route planning advice
- Free maps
- Free advice packs
- Cycle training taster sessions
At these events TfL are encouraging students to sign up to tailored newsletters, and Bicycle User Groups (BUG). BUG is a regime set up by TfL and the London Cycling Campaign to get cyclists working together with these organisations in the hope that they can improve cycling for students.