The #ThisIsAwkward campaign highlights the issues surrounding the overall cost of storing a bike in a hangar and that it is five times higher than a car parking permit in some areas of London.
Only six boroughs across the capital offer cheaper or similarly priced bike storage to the cost of a permit and 10 boroughs off free parking for electric vehicles. Cyclists can pay a fee of up to £107 annually for bike hangar usage, despite taking up less space than a car.
Islington Council, which charges £25 a year for electric vehicle permits, and as little as £30 for other cars, has the highest bike hangar rental cost in London, at £107 a year. The borough also has a waiting list of almost 7,000 people for use of its hangars.
Simon Munk from the London Cycling Campaign said that the price was “discouraging” cycling in the city. In March the #ThisIsAwkward campaign was launched and featured London cyclists sharing images of how they store their bikes around their homes, with some of the images now on billboards around the capital.
Oliver Lord of the Clean Cities Campaign believes Islington Council is not doing enough to encourage cycling, saying, “It’s ridiculous, Bike parking should never cost more than car parking. And we know around half of Londoners are put off taking up cycling because of lack of secure parking.”
He also stated that he wants local authorities to rethink their car permit policies.“We’ve got it the wrong way around, if you can afford an electric car in Islington, then you can afford more than £25 a year to park it outside your house. The way I look at it, is it’s too cheap to park a car in these boroughs, so councils should be rebalancing things by charging more for car parking and using that money to fund cheap cycle parking spaces.”
Residents in Enfield only pay £12 a year to use a hangar, but with six spaces in one unit and some car parking permits costing £55 a year, cyclists are still paying more for the same space. A spokesperson for Enfield council said, “We currently use a TfL-subsidised funding model for these hangars which has helped to keep costs down to encourage initial take-up. Looking ahead, we are seeking an alternative funding model so we can continue to offer safe and secure cycle parking for those who wish to travel actively across the borough. Bike parking should be plentiful, it should never cost more to park your bike than it should to park your car. One machine fights climate change, the other causes it.”
He added: “The cheap availability of car parking spaces over-expensive bike parking spaces can discourage cycling journeys from even being made. Many [car] parking permits allow you to park anywhere in your borough, which means you can drive from place to place. With a bike hangar, that’s fixed in one spot. So you need to make sure that your destination has secure bike parking too.”
Cyclehoop, which provides most of London’s bike hangars, says each unit costs £3,550 to produce and £400 to deliver. With a £72 charge each year for maintenance, a price matched by six councils. However, Islington and Kingston councils both charge more than this. The former says that its cycle storage scheme is “cost-neutral” and ensures hangars are “always serviceable”.
A spokesperson for Islington Council said, “By encouraging local people to use more sustainable modes of transport, we can help create a more environmentally friendly borough for all, and help towards our target of creating a net-zero carbon borough by 2030. We are proud to have installed more bike hangars than almost any other borough in London, our on-street bike hangars already provide 2,400 spaces for residents to securely park their bikes, with space for another 1,200 planned over the next two years. Free secure bike storage for residents on our council estates adds a further 2,000 spaces, with another 800 on the way.”
The spokesperson added: “Our scheme is set up to be cost-neutral – we charge a fee that allows it to be financially sustainable for the long term, which is especially important given the level of demand in Islington.”