Park That Idea: How Lighting Encourages Cycling Through Safer Storage

Jean Luc Lambert - Schréder Urban Deco Business Segment Manager
Jean-Luc Lambert
Urban Deco Business Segment Manager

Cycling is playing a vital role in getting cities moving again as the world returns to work - and play - in the wake of the pandemic. Last week, we discussed how lighting can help planners encourage people to get on their bikes, by making cycle lanes feel safer, junctions easier to negotiate and enabling commuting all year round, whatever the weather. But getting off them is just as important! Intelligent lighting can make a huge difference when creating cycle parking, so that people are happy to start work, go shopping, or take a train, secure in the knowledge that their bike will be there when they return.

Over the years, we’ve lit everything from cycle parking ranks at busy transport hubs, to cute little bike stands in parks to encourage the greenest form of mobility. Good cycle parking is absolutely essential for modal shift. James Armstrong says there are two main factors in moving commuters to bikes.

Cyclists primarily need two things: segregated bicycle lanes and secure places to park. 

James Armstrong
Policy Intern - European Cyclists’ Federation

Here’s how the right light can help create cycle parking that doesn’t just exist, but excels.

Stop Thieves, Start Commuters Cycling

Imagine if you drove to work each day, parked your car, and just hoped that it would still be there when you left the office. Of course you wouldn’t take the risk! 

In the Irish capital, one in six people who have had a bike stolen give up cycling completely. A further 26% of cycle-theft victims find that they cycle less afterwards. 

We will continue to lose large numbers of cyclists if we don’t tackle the growing problem of bicycle theft.

Keith Byrne
Chair of the Dublin Cycling Campaign

Cycle crime is rising across Europe, especially in large cities. In Germany, Berlin, Bremen and Hamburg see 800 bike thefts for every 100,000 inhabitants. In France, cycling association Vélo Perdu says that almost 1,100 bicycles are stolen daily. Although these figures are shocking, the truth is probably worse: bicycle crime is often not reported. Even in the bike-friendly Netherlands, only about 30% of missing bikes are reported as stolen. 


Don’t Stand for Bike Theft... Get Stands With Proper Lighting

City planners need to tackle figures like this if they’re serious about getting people cycling, and changing the built environment can make life much harder for bike thieves. Many cities have a shortage of secure bike parking and plenty of dark corners. First, build your bike parking. And next, make sure the stands are secure. 

Schréder has extensive experience in lighting cycle parking ranks so users feel secure

Lighting can play a huge role here, first and foremost by eliminating dark corners. Bright white lighting can make facial recognition easy, so people can see who’s around as they park and secure their bike - and what they’re doing. White light shows the area clearly, providing users with a better perception of where they left their bike. Zero- or low-glare lighting offers a much more comfortable and user-friendly environment all times of day and night. And intelligent lighting schemes with sensors mean lights can be dimmer, or even turned off, when nobody is using the facilities.

The Schréder Shuffle takes things beyond lighting: this elegant, compact lighting column which can incorporate multiple modules to enhance cycle hubs, including CCTV cameras with digital zoom or fully motorised control. Designed to give off a friendly light that makes a bike-parking area feel safer and more welcoming, its presence actively discourages thieves.

Cars Don’t Spend Money, People Do

Enough about avoiding theft: investing in cycling infrastructure also has a positive overall impact on business. This study shows that people who walk or bike to a commercial area are likely to spend more money than those who drove there. Lighting solutions help cyclists to avoid hazards and secure parking areas encourage them to stick around. This is particularly true for public transport spaces, such as train stations. 

One project we worked on which brings all these elements together is the Stationsplein in the Dutch city of Utrecht. The square links Central Station, the Hoog Catherijne shopping centre and the city’s historic centre, and a soaring canopy roof across the square, along with shops, bars and restaurants makes it an attractive place to linger. The underground bicycle parking - the largest such facility in the world, with space for 12,500 bikes - is the closest parking to the station, again making cycling the most attractive option.

Schréder delivered a lighting solution to encourage cyclists to use the cycling infrastructure at Utrecht station

Schréder partnered closely with Ector Hoogstad Architecten, BAM Bouw en Techniek and Arup to make special armatures that are seamlessly integrated into the columns supporting the roof canopy. Sustainable and adaptable, the spiral fittings work as both up- and down-lights, so both the square and the remarkable roof above are bathed in just the right levels of warm, welcoming light. It’s the perfect place to unwind, grab a coffee or browse the shops before taking your train - with your bike safely parked below.

Power Surge: Electric Rides, Charged with Passion 

Meanwhile, the huge growth in e-bikes presents new challenges. A million e-bikes were sold in Germany in 2018, which means that one in four bikes in Germany is now electric. France, Italy, Norway and the UK are among other countries that have recently seen significant growth in the use of e-bikes. This could potentially worsen the problem of cycle crime by making bikes more valuable as stolen goods: e-bikes aren’t cheap.

However, it’s also a great opportunity for local authorities to encourage people to leave their e-bikes in the designated safe places. The Shuffle can include integrated charging, which means the same unit can charge a bike, help to light the space and keep an eye out for thieves. The poles can also be lit with different coloured rings, to help people remember where they parked their bike.


A Bright Future for Cycle Parking

Investing in bike parking encourages cycling, discourages crime and gives local businesses a much-needed boost, especially compared to spending on car parking. It leads to healthier, happier citizens and nicer town centres. With council budgets under pressure in the wake of the pandemic, it makes sense to invest in cycling infrastructure as a way to get things moving again. And a key part of this is making sure people are happy to park their bikes.

One volunteer who regularly stole bikes for 12 years was asked by the Guardian how to reduce the chances of being a victim of cycle crime. He said: “For me the best place to leave your bike is a place where there are people around.” The right lighting can make sure that people aren’t just around, but actively enjoying their cycling experience!

About the writer

Since he joined the company as a mechanical engineer in 1988, Jean-Luc has developed a wide range of urban lighting luminaires, always striving to improve design and efficiency. 
He has travelled the world, bringing a hands-on mentality to deliver the perfect solution for customers worldwide. There’s not a lot he doesn’t know about lighting! 

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