Cycle Racks at Westgate – update

As I wrote at some length about the lack of cycle parking at Westgate when the new centre opened I thought I should reprint this update from Oxford City Council and Cllr Alex Hollingsworth. It was published on twitter on 27 November.

Statement on cycle racks at Westgate Oxford.

Posted on twitter by @OxfordCity (Oxford City Council) on 27 November

I think it would be helpful to spell out exactly how many cycle parking spaces are to be provided by the Westgate development. The original planning permission that was approved included 1,034 spaces, of which 118 were for the residential units, 184 were in the secure cycle hub, and 732 were in the public realm.

As part of the development 88 spaces were removed from at the northern end of the site in Bonn Square. As the committee report made clear this was taken into account, so the net increase in the number of spaces was 944 spaces in total. Other spaces temporarily removed during the construction phase, such as those in St Ebbe’s, will be replaced and are not therefore part of the calculation.

The cycle hub, which now contains 186 spaces, is fully fitted out and (at the time of writing) is planned to open in a week to 10 days time when the electronic fob operating system has been tested and becomes operational. The residential cycle parking, of 118 spaces, is due for completion soon and will be open when residents start to move into the flats.

The remaining spaces are provided on street, in 25 locations around the Westgate centre. Many of these spaces have been installed, and were installed before the centre was opened – for example in Faulkner Street. Others, such as those on Old Greyfriars Street, can only be installed once the paving works are completed over the next couple of weeks. As of Thursday morning (23 November) 410 of these spaces have been installed, with 384 currently available for use and 26 about to be when resurfacing work near them is completed. This does NOT include spaces currently installed in St Ebbe’s and Pennyfarthing Place, as these are replacements of temporarily removed parking spaces, as noted above.

In order to comply with the total figure in the planning permission a further 320 spaces need to be installed (322 if the public realm figure is treated as a separate target).

Westgate believe that they have identified sites for 350 spaces, and these sites have been or are being discussed with planning officers and where appropriate the County Council to ensure that they do not obstruct access for pedestrians or emergency vehicles. It is believed that there is scope for a increase in the number of spaces in St Ebbes for example.

These remaining spaces will be installed as soon as the areas in question are paved and clear of any remaining construction works, so there will be a rolling programme of cycle parking installation over the next few weeks. However because cycle parking can only be installed once there is pavement on which to install it, it is likely that the final few spaces will only be operational near the end of the final construction works, in the few weeks after Christmas.

In addition, the Council is increasing its resources for ensuring that cycle parking is kept clear of abandoned bikes, meaning that more spaces are available for use.

Historically racks were inspected approximately on a quarterly basis by the Abandoned Vehicles Officer, with a focus on machines which could be considered unroadworthy – having 2 or more repair issues, for example one flat tyre and a broken chain. This narrow definition did not of course include bikes which were abandoned.

The frequency of inspections has now been increased, with all cycle parking inspected at least monthly. The bikes that appear to be abandoned are tagged 7 days in advance or removal, and then stored for at least six weeks before disposal. In additional each rack will be deep cleaned once a year, allowing a further opportunity to identify and remove abandoned bikes.

In addition all Streetscene staff have been tasked with reporting any seemingly ‘unroadworthy’ bikes during their routine work or inspections, and these will be tagged at the immediately rather than being waiting for the monthly inspections.

Councillor Alex Hollingsworth
Board Member for Planning and Regulatory Services

Oxford Bike Hire

Oxford now has four operators offering dockless bike hire in the city. These are in addition to the two docking-type systems which have been going for some time now, Oxonbikes and Brompton Hire, and a hybrid scheme run by Bainton Bikes/Donkey Republic.

The dockless concept is that you can pick up any available bike, ride it, and park it at the end of your journey. The operators just ask that you park somewhere legal, accessible, and non-obstructive. An app on your smartphone or other device shows where the available bikes are and takes care of the locking, unlocking and payment.

Some operators require a deposit. Some have a credit points system where you can earn or lose points for considerate or inconsiderate use, and where the charges are higher if you have too few points. Typical trip charges for the dockless bikes are 50p/30 minutes, though Ofo bikes are currently free to use.

The Donkey Republic/Bainton Bikes scheme is slightly different and aimed at longer use. They charge by the day; you collect your bike from one of several specified locations around the city (including Headington Shops and Oxford Brookes) and return it to the same place.

Longer rentals are also available, for example from Bainton Bikes, or try any of the bike shops in and around the city.

Lastly I should include Cycle.Land, an Oxford start-up someone described as “AirBnB for bikes”. It’s a platform where people can share their bike with other people for a fee. Of course it’s also a way for someone who has a bike – or a few bikes – to make a few pounds renting it or them out. Cycle.Land provide the mobile app, insurance and support, but like AirBnB it’s up to each owner and renter to make arrangements between themselves. I was surprised to see about 120 bikes listed in Oxford, including some tandems. Typical rental prices range from £1 to a few ££ a day.

Oxfordshire County and Oxford City have drawn up this Code of Conduct for dockless operators

Here is a summary of the various schemes in alphabetical order.

BROMPTON HIRE Folding bikes kept in lockers. Hire & return to rail station only – can be to a different station. Annual fee + prepay. Frequent and Leisure tariffs. 24-hr hire period.

DONKEY REPUBLIC Prepay. £12/day. Collect from designated collection point; return to same place (see map).

MOBIKES Drive shaft – no chain!  Dockless. Credit points system. One-off refundable deposit of £49 + prepay; 50p/30min or £1/30min if credit points are low.

OBIKES Dockless. Credit points system. No deposit. Prepay; 50p, £1 or £5/30min depending on credit points.

OFO Dockless. Some bikes have 3-speed gears. No deposit. Currently free to use; no date set for charging to start. Will be 50p/30min.

OXONBIKES Pedal & e-bikes available. Hire & return to docking stations around the city – see locations. Prepay. Either subscribe £26pa + 30min free then £1/hr or no subscription + £1/hr. E-bikes available at twice the rates.

PONY BIKES Dockless. No deposit; prepay 50p/30min or £19/month unlimited use. No points system.

Headington Headlines #342

Your weekly round-up of local news for 30 October – 5 November.

Police cordoned off part of Copse Lane in Marston last weekend after reports that a teenage girl had been assaulted.

EF International’s planning application to redevelop their site at Cotuit Hall (reported in HH312) goes to the east Area Planning Committee on Wednesday this week (8 November). The officers’ recommendation is to approve the application subject to conditions. One of the conditions is for a travel plan:

The plan shall detail how pupil access to the site is to be managed, including at start/end of terms, how vehicle movements to and from the site are to be minimised, the means for implementing the plan, method of monitoring and amending the plan on an annual basis. The results of the annual monitoring exercise shall be submitted to the local planning authority in writing and the travel plan amended accordingly in light of discussions with the local planning authority.

Last week I mentioned the missing cycle parking stands at Westgate. Here’s the story.

Since then work has started to install the missing racks.

Staying with the cycling theme, here’s our very own EF language schools in their latest sponsorship venture. This is a World Tour Team so expect to see them in all the big races.

The highest-ranked football team based in OX3, @OxCityFC, who are second bottom in the National League South, pulled off a great victory against League Two’s Colchester, 56 places above them, with a 1-0 away win in the first round of the FA Cup.

Following the official opening of the Margaret Road sports pavilion last week, here’s the Oxford Mail’s article and picture gallery about it.

My favourite Headington-related tweet:

Active posts on the Headington & Marston e-democracy forum this week:

  • Bright white lighting
  • Beech House