Several new cycle sheds on the streets & estates around Lavender Hill

Last summer a whole bundle of new on-street cycle hangars were announced, with 74 planned for streets and another 15 for estates across Wandsworth. They’re useful facilities, in a borough with one of the highest numbers of cycle commuters in the country, but also one where many struggle to find space to fit bikes in small flats, and even those who can may fear the inevitable loss of deposits that comes with scuffed walls and carrying cycles up to the top floor.

They’re typically a fairly solid metal structure sitting on the road or the pavement that can hold six bikes, and keep them dry and reasonably safe from theft. Spaces within these cycle hangars are usually in very high demand: as at the time of writing all of the on-street hangars in Wandsworth are fully booked – and while there are a few hundred more in other boroughs (shown inCyclehoop’s map below), everything within a five mile radius is also full! Those who live on or near the location of the hangars are usually prioritised in the queue, not that this would make much difference until a few of the new ones come online. The larger hangars on the estates, like the one above, have decent availability for the time being (but are restricted to estate residents).

There have been a lot of calls for more secure cycle storage – but as installations have got going there have also been complaints that the proposed new hangars are more focussed on the north and east of the borough, with only a scattering proposed for Putney and Roehampton. That said – areas like Lavender Hill do seem to be the areas with the highest concentration of both cycle commuting and smaller flats and houses. Wandsworth’s own selection process for locations was a mix of locations that have had a lot of historic requests for storage facilities in a public consultation they ran a couple of years ago (which saw over 500 requests for hangars), and locations with a high proportion of residents who don’t have garages / gardens / houses & flats large enough to store bikes; with a further filter to make sure that locations won’t look ugly or cause road safety issues by blocking views at junctions. Some of the nearby shortlisted locations include Queenstown Road; as well as Gowrie, Taybridge, Jedburgh, Thirsk band Sugden Roads on Clapham Common Northside; and Eckstein Road near the station.

We’ve recently seen one appear on Queenstown Road (tactically installed on an unusually wide bit of pavement to avoid losing parking spaces), and a larger one has also now appeared in the Gideon Road Estate, capable of housing at least a dozen cycles – pictured above. The latter is located on one of the concrete platforms that used to house storage sheds that were rented to residents of the flats (which were removed because they weren’t really being used for storage, but the hidden passageways between them were giving cover for crime and other troublesome activities). There’s also an existing one at the very southern end of Ashley Crescent, which has long been a bit of a mystery as it seems to have its own resident family of stray cats!

The hangars cost £2500 to buy and install; which Wandsworth has mostly got from a TfL centralised cycling budget. The process for renting a space in one of the on-street Bikehangars is managed by a company called CycleHoop, who manage similar facilities for 26 local authorities including several London boroughs. There’s an annual fee of £72 (and a key deposit of £25) – which gives you a specific numbered space in a specific hangar. The fee covers administration, managing access, and occasional cleaning and maintenance; but not the original construction cost. Renting one in Lambeth is a fair bit cheaper, at $42 a year – because they subsidise the running costs as well as the original construction costs, whereas Wandsworth only covers the initial construction costs. To hire a space in one of the on-street hangars visit CycleHoop.

While we’re on the subject of the concrete platforms in the Gideon Road estate – it’s good to see one of these long-abandoned concrete platforms finally used. But there are still two more of these huge platforms just left there, years after the sheds were removed – and as what is actually quite a decent little bit of land, with big trees and set back and slightly down from the road to shelter it from traffic, and plenty of space to not be right next to any flats, these could be used as an ideal ready-made base for an outdoor gym (like the ones installed at the edges of Clapham Common – shown below).

Or maybe even a supplement to the existing childrens’ playground that is buried rather deeper in the Gideon Road estate, in a neighbourhood that is becoming more and more populated and which is relatively lacking in green space.

It’s quite surprising to think that the relatively small space with its concrete platforms is one of the largest open spaces in the whole area – but it’s a side effect of the Shaftesbury Estate’s originally-planned central square, Brassey Square, never having been delivered, which left the whole of the Shaftesbury estate lacking any open space at all.

The Gideon Road estate did a bit better in this regard – but as the architects’ original plans (shown in the picture above) make clear, while it was built with quite a lot of open space, most of it was car parking and the rest was scattered in lots of tiny little patches that tend to be overshadowed by buildings set at right angles to it. This means that with the exception of the playground, most of of its open spaces aren’t used much at all, and tend to suffer from a lot of fly tipping. The new cycle shed is a clever place to put the bike store, it’s good to see some of this space in use again – and maybe the remaining concrete platforms will also be able to find a new purpose that improves the estate as a whole.

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