Theft victims call for action from London Mayor as demand for bike hangars increases by 17%

November 16, 2023
Victims of bike theft and campaigners are putting up 1,000 missing posters across London to call for more secure bike hangars.

Victims of bike theft and campaigners are putting up 1,000 missing posters (known as ‘lamppost laments’) across London to call for more secure bike hangars. It comes as new research published by the Clean Cities Campaign shows that the demand for secure bike storage has soared by 17% in the last 18 months.

The research, produced for Clean Cities by transport consultancy Steer, has found that around 8,500 spaces have been installed since spring last year, which is when Clean Cities first ran a campaign highlighting the incredible places from toilets to bedrooms to balconies that people are forced to store their bikes. However, the total waiting list has become slightly longer over the same period – more than 8,700 new Londoners are now waiting for places (a 17% increase in demand overall).

Based on current plans, it is estimated total provision will nearly double to 70,000 by May 2026. 

An example of the "Missing" poster ("Lampost Lament") put up around London today

Despite this investment, at least 35,000 Londoners across 21 boroughs will still be waiting on a waiting list and analysis exposes a postcode lottery; with some boroughs pushing ahead installing new storage, and others doing nothing. Clean Cities is calling on the Mayor of London to urgently provide a £35 million fund to support boroughs so they can end waiting lists and ensure cycle storage is deployed where it is needed most. 

A recent FOI found that TfL has funded just 1,000 spaces since 2021 (in FY 21/22 & 22/23) despite a commitment by the Mayor to increase the number of secure cycle bike hangars. TfL has the potential to reduce the cost of deployment – working with boroughs to identify the best and cheapest solutions for the various types of housing and make bulk orders of storage. According to TfL, more than half of Londoners see a lack of cycle parking as a key deterrent to cycling.

Seven boroughs – Barking & Dagenham, Croydon, Islington, Lewisham, Newham, Sutton and Westminster – will meet current demand by 2026 and waiting lists will remain more than double the planned rollout in many areas. Bexley, Harrow and Hillingdon are yet to install any secure bike parking or storage at all despite around a third of their residents living in flats or apartments (between 25% to 35%).

The report shines a spotlight on the London borough of Lambeth, where a lot of action is being taken to help residents access secure cycle storage. This includes:

  • Committing to end the waiting list with a new two-year supply contract for cycle hangars worth £39 million. The tender for the contract closed on 14 November 2023;
  • Reducing the cost of spaces in a cycle hangar so that it is cheaper for a family of four to use a cycle hangar (£120 for four bikes at £30 each) than to park a car (starting at £120.21 for an electric car);
  • Adopting a new rollout strategy to optimise where hangars are located, switching from focusing solely on demand, to include other factors such as housing stock, deprivation levels and public transport accessibility;
    Introducing special hangars for larger adapted bicycles to improve accessibility and innovative solutions such as converting existing car garages on estates.
Current waiting list
Number of spaces planned to be installed by 2026
% of waiting list planned to be met by 2026
Waltham Forest
Hammersmith and Fullham
Tower Hamlets

By compiling these human loss stories, such as Amber’s, Clean Cities and Stolen Ride are working to amplify the message that London needs better, safer storage and highlighting the significant impact that bike theft can have on the individuals reliant on their bikes to get about.

With 20,000 bikes – about 50 a day – reported stolen annually across the capital, there is an urgent need for this storage. And not reporting bike theft is common, so the figures are likely to be higher still. However there are clear, positive signs that the introduction of bike hangars and secure spaces is starting to improve things.
It is clear that more storage can’t come soon enough and that’s why Clean Cities have been calling on Londoners to share their stories of bike theft and the impact that this has on their lives. Victims of bike theft have been sharing their experiences using the hashtags #StolenDreams and #ThisisAwkward, in collaboration with grassroots campaign Stolen Ride which supports victims of theft to reunite them with their stolen bikes.

Further issues highlighted by the report are the unfair costs to Londoners of using a secure cycle hangar. The average cost of a space in an on-street secure cycle hangar in London is £54 per space but it is double that cost for Islington residents (£107.25). The report shows that it is cheaper for Londoners to park an electric car than to rent a single space in a cycle hangar in most boroughs. 

I cycled before I got a bike hangar space, but due to poor infrastructure to store my bike, I had my bike stolen from the premises. With the bike hangar I don’t have to worry about parking my bike near my home. It is definitely more secure and I find it safe and easy to use.

If our city leaders want to help Londoners jump on a bike and use their car less then they have to make it as easy as possible, including providing somewhere safe to store it. We are seeing a burgeoning demand for secure cycle storage across the capital that far exceeds supply and Londoners won’t be surprised to learn that getting hold of a secure cycle space near their home is very dependent on the borough in which they live. So many Londoners want to cycle but are put off by the threat that their bikes will be stolen or they simply don’t have the space inside their homes. A £35 million fund from the Mayor of London would boost the progress being made and go a long way to ending the long wait for thousands of Londoners and the unfair distribution of secure cycle storage.

Not everyone is lucky enough to live in a house with a garage, secure metal garden shed or have a secure monitored cycle hub on their doorstep. In fact, according to the 2021 Census, 54% of Londoners do not live in houses. If there is no provision for cycle parking at their residence, or very nearby, then they are stuck without cycle hangars. They have to either risk their bike being locked outside, struggle with a bike inside, or not cycle at all. Stolen Ride supports this campaign and urges all London boroughs (and beyond) to acknowledge immediate and future cycle parking needs, alongside the overall benefits of cycling, by increasing the number of end-to-end secure cycle parking solutions. Cycle hangar space fees should be strongly subsidised where needed and cycle hangar planning factor in the costs to families, the mixed cost structures across London boroughs, accessibility and non-standard cycles

If London wants to ease pressure on public transport, reduce air pollution, and help people stay fit and healthy, we desperately need more secure bike parking. We need it on residential streets and estates, but also to support community centres and businesses.

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