A new campaign is highlighting the weirdest and most ridiculous places that Londoners are forced to store their bikes. The #ThisisAwkward campaign aims to demonstrate the chronic shortage of spaces available for cyclists to store their bikes.
Pictures submitted so far include someone who sleep in a bed next to their bike; a bike being stored worryingly close to the oven; a group of bikes being precariously hung over a balcony in a housing estate; and perhaps oddest of all – two kids’ bikes crammed next to a toilet.
Residents from across the capital have already been tweeting using #ThisisAwkward with submissions on twitter from cyclists in Islington, Hackney, Hounslow, Lambeth, Lewisham, Tower Hamlets and Greenwich.
Freedom of Information requests from the Clean Air Wins coalition show that there is a waiting list of 60,715 people wanting to hire a bike hangar across London’s 32 boroughs. That is nearly three times as many people waiting for a space as there are places to hire in bike hangars – with only 22,592 spaces available. If the figures were replicated across other urban areas in the UK it would mean 375,000 people were waiting for a bike space.
Based on a similar exercise conducted six months ago, the numbers on the waiting list in London has risen 28%, up from 47,578. The Clean Air Wins campaign is calling on councillor candidates to commit to providing a cheap, convenient and secure bike hangar space for all residents that need one ahead of local elections being held in May.
The actual waiting figures may be an underestimation of the demand for bike hangars. According to Transport for London’s own analysis, more than half of Londoners see a lack of cycle parking as a key deterrent to cycling.
As well as sharing on social media, the best pictures will make it onto billboards around Islington and Southwark, for a two week poster campaign starting on 28 March.
The boroughs with the highest waiting lists are perhaps unsurprisingly in inner London, where space can be at a premium and more people live in flats.
Southwark is the highest in the capital, with 8,524 people registered as waiting to hire bike storage. In North London, Camden has a waiting list of 7,307 while Islington has 6,963 cyclists waiting for a space. South of the river, Lewisham has 5,444 people waiting while Lambeth has 5,169.
Oliver Lord, UK Head of Clean Cities Campaign, said:
“More than 60,000 Londoners are waiting for a bike hangar space – and that is just the people lucky to have the time and energy to put their name forward. If councillors want to help Londoners jump on a bike and use their car less then they have to make it as easy as possible. Forcing people to do the ‘cycle salsa’ at home isn’t just an inconvenience, it’s utterly unfair given the abundance of space set aside for cars on our streets.
By not delivering the secure bike parking we need, London’s councillors are failing residents who want to do the right thing and neglecting their duties to reduce air pollution, tackle the climate crisis and help prevent the 400 bike thefts that occur every week.”