Guest blog by Nicholas Jones
Industrial Designer/Director Indemic
[Editor’s note: our recent blog about the AT bike cage trial – which Cycle Action supports – led to some people weighing in who felt that this really “wasn’t all that”. Here’s a guest blog from one of them with some thoughts and design alternatives.]
I’ve been following the discussion on Auckland Transport’s proposal to trial 2 bike cages at Papakura and Papatotoe train stations. I was somewhat offended by the pictures of the proposed cages, so took heart from the comments questioning the design, as well as the location, security and need for the cages.
Everyone agreed that our bikes deserve protection from the elements when parked all day at a train, ferry or bus station, and while we all want our bikes to be safe from theft, it’s not agreed that the cages are the only way to provide effective security.
I can’t help questioning why we are copying a decade-old design from Melbourne. The only thing we seem to have changed is to remove the colour. Sadly, this highlights the grim, prison appearance of the cages.
Scanning the web for alternatives to the Melbourne design was a reality check, as it highlighted that largely there is no silver-bullet solution. These two designs show some lateral thinking, but still miss the mark in their effectiveness and suitability to our unique requirements here in Auckland.
Bike cages do not come cheaply ($80,000 – $90,000 all up). Think of the number of train and bus stations across Auckland and you can see this will be a costly retrofit. This led me to defining what is needed for bike parking at train and bus stations. Before proceeding any further, we need to ask Auckland’s bike parking users (present and future) if cages are the only way to provide undercover and secure parking, and develop a robust set of requirements addressing the specific needs of cyclists, and conveying the future vision of our city.
Included in this we should consider:
- Bike parking to convey the positive image of cycling and its part in a smart, liveable city.
- It’s a vital part of our transport infrastructure and will be all around the city. If it’s well designed, it will be welcomed, respected and more wholly integrated, wherever it is sited.
- It must be cost-effective and applicable/adaptable city-wide.
- It’s there to do a job, so has to be highly functional, easy to use and maintain.
- The form of the bike and the need to keep it safe from twisting, falling, scraping, corrosion and theft.
- We want shelter from the rain as we park and lock our bike, and empty/ fill panniers.
- Space and siting are important, as bike parking should be convenient for regular users and seen by visitors.
- Passive supervision helps protect bikes from vandalism and theft.
Finally – there is no question we value innovation and design in New Zealand. Think how Aucklanders have embraced the ingenuity and creativity at the Wynyard Wharf . Do we really have to accept mediocre hand- me-down bike parking for train, bus and ferries across Auckland?