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.
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:
Top 10 boroughs – cycle storage waiting list (source: research by Steer for the Clean Cities Campaign, based on FOI responses received in August and September 2023)
Current waiting list
Number of spaces planned to be installed by 2026
% of waiting list planned to be met by 2026
Hammersmith and Fullham
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.