Is cycling being oversold as free?

OldGreyBeard
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Is cycling being oversold as free?

Postby OldGreyBeard » 7 Nov 2010, 8:07pm

I am increasingly concerned that cycling is being presented as a practically free form of personal transport. We as cyclists expect free parking facilities at stations, no need to have insurance, no need to have a bike proved to be safe etc etc. Just think what you have to pay for when you run a car: Third party insurance, MOT, parking, VED as a minimum.

Is this “free” quality only being achieved because someone else is paying the price. After all someone pays for all that cycle parking. Is it enough that cycling has a wider public good or is that just rather smug?

If you take my local railway station about 50% of people walk, about 20% drive and about 5% cycle. Guess who has had the largest amount of money spent on them? About £1M. Yes the drivers but that is probably because they pay quite a lot for parking. The cycle parking was not paid for by the rail operator whereas the car parking was. If the cyclists paid for parking, then maybe they would get better facilities. The drivers are obviously seen as a profit centre rather than a cost centre like the cyclists.

I am genuinely interested in this issue and personally feel that if cyclists paid more, then they would get taken more seriously. I do own a car but walk or cycle where possible, basically for the usual reasons of economics, health and convenience.
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One of the most important days of my life was when I learned to ride a bicycle - Michael Palin

kwackers
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Re: Is cycling being oversold as free?

Postby kwackers » 7 Nov 2010, 8:15pm

Unless others know differently my experience of cycle parking is a bit of space that would otherwise be unused and a handful of fairly cheap Sheffield stands.

OTOH, you could park a dozen bicycles in one car parking space, which was specially provided and could have had other uses and which (outside my local station) attracts a charge of £2.50 a day. (And the area is both lit and covered by CCTV!)

Charging for bicycle parking won't endear us to anyone, in fact the contrary - I suspect most people will simply stop using the paid facilities and start chaining to street furniture and railings etc.
(OTOH, I'd pay for 'good' facilities if it meant I could guarantee my bike still being there when I got back)

snibgo
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Re: Is cycling being oversold as free?

Postby snibgo » 7 Nov 2010, 8:37pm

For Sheffield stands at a railway station or somewhere, 20p or so a day might be a reasonable charge, but not worth collecting, and expensive to enforce. Where would you put a ticket on your bike such that a dishonest cyclist couldn't nick it?

I've read on these forums that some places do charge, for more secure facilities.

I suspect that most capital for cycle parking comes from s106 agreements or DfT via Cycle England. The theory (which I support) is that free and convenient cycle parking encourages more people to get out of their cars and on their bikes.

One difficulty about comparisons is that cars carry their own security, but bikes don't. To get the same security a car has, I would want my bike in its own secure and CCTV'd locker. For that, I wouldn't mind paying 1/12 what a car driver would pay.

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hubgearfreak
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Re: Is cycling being oversold as free?

Postby hubgearfreak » 7 Nov 2010, 8:41pm

OldGreyBeard wrote: Just think what you have to pay for when you run a car: Third party insurance, MOT, parking, VED as a minimum.


i take it that you're coming from the commonly held (but wrong) view that the motorist pays for all their costs and more?

given that the general taxpayer is subsidising the motorist and the train passengers, why shouldn't there be a bit of free cycle parking?

thirdcrank
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Re: Is cycling being oversold as free?

Postby thirdcrank » 7 Nov 2010, 8:51pm

IMO rubbish cycle "facilities" which tend to bristle with blue signs but are avoided by cyclists are at the heart of this. The argument (which I'm not espousing) is that road tax-paying drivers are subsidising freeloaders who cannot even show their gratitude by using what is so graciously bestowed on them free. Imposing some whacking tariffs on cyclists might lead to some self-satisfied gloating but no positive effect.

I'll trot out my hobbyhorse that "New" Labour lost the opportunity of a lifetime by only paying lip-service to the National Cycling Strategy when they came into power in 1997; like so much else, it was all 'aspiration,' no delivery.

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Cunobelin
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Re: Is cycling being oversold as free?

Postby Cunobelin » 7 Nov 2010, 9:13pm

OldGreyBeard wrote:I am increasingly concerned that cycling is being presented as a practically free form of personal transport. We as cyclists expect free parking facilities at stations, no need to have insurance, no need to have a bike proved to be safe etc etc. Just think what you have to pay for when you run a car: Third party insurance, MOT, parking, VED as a minimum.


Lets study this :
I pay for cycle parking at work, I have insurance, my bikes are well serviced and this costs.

I also incur costs for all of these, including VED which I pay as appropriate to any vehicle with the same Band A classification


Is this “free” quality only being achieved because someone else is paying the price. After all someone pays for all that cycle parking. Is it enough that cycling has a wider public good or is that just rather smug?


Exactly the opposite - card drivers are subsidised by £1500 - £3000 per year depending on estimates and what you include. Cyclists are not subsidised in this way, so no-one is paying for that.

If you take my local railway station about 50% of people walk, about 20% drive and about 5% cycle. Guess who has had the largest amount of money spent on them? About £1M. Yes the drivers but that is probably because they pay quite a lot for parking. The cycle parking was not paid for by the rail operator whereas the car parking was. If the cyclists paid for parking, then maybe they would get better facilities. The drivers are obviously seen as a profit centre rather than a cost centre like the cyclists.


... as before I pay for cycle parking, so do many others. Now what about the cost of the footpaths that the pedesrians are using and the standing room on the platforms?

Of course there is also the matter of comparison - you can fit 30 cycles (or more) in a car parking space so that should bringthe cost down - Fareham is therefore about 20 p per day


I am genuinely interested in this issue and personally feel that if cyclists paid more, then they would get taken more seriously. I do own a car but walk or cycle where possible, basically for the usual reasons of economics, health and convenience.


As above when the subsidy on a car reaches is at the amount above then this argument is really rather spurious and does not hold water. Most of this stuff about cyclists paying more is simply ill founded and poorly thought out - we should be discussing when vehicle users are going to pay the whole cost of their vehicle use and remove the unfair subsidy can this discussion really progress.

thirdcrank
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Re: Is cycling being oversold as free?

Postby thirdcrank » 7 Nov 2010, 9:51pm

Historically, because the tax system allows for the expenses of tools of the trade etc., the company car became a perk. Although successive Chancellors have tried to rein this in, or at least reduce the tax benefits, the expectation of an executive motor as part of 'the package' remains high. This is particularly true of larger cars. How many new cars with an engine of above 1300 cc are bought privately? Beyond the provision of the car, there are all the increments of status that a particular car and equipment level denote. I understand, for example, that Ford cannot sell their larger cars to executives 'at any price' in the UK because of the Mondeo man image - somebody who gets a fleet car issued, rather than being able to make his own choice, as shown by the coveted BMW or Audi on the drive.

Anybody who rides a bike as the alternative to a company car is treated as bordering on delinquent. I've mentioned before that when I cycled in to work at headquarters in Wakefield I got the gypsy's warning (which I ignored.) Parking for private cars was at a premium yet my bike propped against the garage wall was not seen as a small contribution to solving the problem, although some wag, possibly me, had stuck up a cartoon with a boss saying to an underling "With your promotion you will get your own bike parking space." Although I was entitled to claim mileage, there was no company car for me, of course, but I did have a rarely-used numbered bay in the yard. It caused uproar when I told the departmental typists that they could use it, along with my barrier card. (It was also explained to me that by travelling by bus when it was necessary to visit some outpost of the Empire, I was betraying my eventual successor who might be unable to justify mileage.)

I think that the ethos of company cars is such that there is a fair bit of the old green-eyed monster in critical comments about them.

Because children ride bikes, quite a lot of people see cycling as childish and cannot believe that a cyclist might hold a driving licence. My favourite put down to patronising drivers is "I can do that. Could you do this?" (I've also been quick to crow at public meetings, "The typical cyclist rides head and shoulders above the typical driver." :lol: (With apologies to the owners of recumbents.)

In short, once you've decided not to join them, you might as well beat them.

OldGreyBeard
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Re: Is cycling being oversold as free?

Postby OldGreyBeard » 7 Nov 2010, 10:01pm

Thankyou for all the replies so far.

i take it that you're coming from the commonly held (but wrong) view that the motorist pays for all their costs and more?

No, I'm not, but anyone who runs a car certainly pays much much more than for running a bicycle.

I chose the example of parking at a station as it's one where I know the local costs. It currently costs £6.50 per day to park a car with discounts for season tickets. The car parking cost about £1M to extend funded by the station operator. The cycle parking is also fairly new and cost about £50K from planning gain but not S106. Prior to that cycles were locked to railings everywhere. On the other hand, the cars are now parked anywhere they can legally fit for free outside the station car park and causing quite a lot of bother. The fly parking of cycles didn't cause much problem to anyone else but the same cannot be said of the fly parking of cars.

Is there an argument for free, basic facilties e.g. covered Sheffield stands, with an option for paid for more secure facilities?

One difficulty about comparisons is that cars carry their own security, but bikes don't. To get the same security a car has, I would want my bike in its own secure and CCTV'd locker. For that, I wouldn't mind paying 1/12 what a car driver would pay.

Good point. I tend to agree.

My argument about cyclists paying more is not to do with fair shares, morals or such, but to do with being seen as a profit centre rather than a cost centre. Profit centres tend to attract investment. You can make money from a car park which covers its costs which is why people invest in them. How do you make money from a cycle park?

As for the other cycling costs, since I'm a CTC member (family membership) I get 3rd party insurance, I have theft insurance and I maintain my bike myself which probably adds up to about £150 per year. The car costs about £800 per year before it's gone anywhere. Using a bike is a real no brainer! But I would pay for secure cycle parking in places such as town centres and stations where I could be leaving my bike for a long time just to avoid the upset, cost and inconvenience of vandalism & theft.

To widen the discussion I could reduce the cost further by not having 3rd party insurance. Would this be sensible or reasonable? I don't think so and the CTC clearly provide it as a compulsory part of the membership for a reason. If I stopped the theft insurance that would save money too but daft as the bike is not an old crock.
Last edited by OldGreyBeard on 7 Nov 2010, 10:12pm, edited 1 time in total.
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One of the most important days of my life was when I learned to ride a bicycle - Michael Palin

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hubgearfreak
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Re: Is cycling being oversold as free?

Postby hubgearfreak » 7 Nov 2010, 10:12pm

OldGreyBeard wrote:anyone who runs a car certainly pays much much more than for running a bicycle.


many of those on bikes, also pay for their cars but simply aren't using them that day.

in any case, do you not think it right that the costs of using a car are more than those using a bike? i certainly do -

motors;

3000 deaths, 30000 seriously injured
a fair chunk (25%?) of the nation's CO2 production
billions of £ worth of delays to goods from congestion

cycles;

annoy daily mail readers and their ilk

OldGreyBeard
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Re: Is cycling being oversold as free?

Postby OldGreyBeard » 7 Nov 2010, 10:22pm

many of those on bikes, also pay for their cars but simply aren't using them that day.

As do I but if I had two cars I wouldn't get a discount. We used to have two cars but typically only one was used at a time but I paid to run both of them as if they were always in use. One was a company car which is a classic example of an invisible cost as it was certainly not free but the costs were less visible.

in any case, do you not think it right that the costs of using a car are more than those using a bike? i certainly do


I'm not sure that I'm thinking of what is morally right or wrong but rather cars cost more because they are more complex, consume more resources, cause a greater disbenefit to the wider society and so on. It is widely argued that they are effectively subsidised which must be a deliberate decision based on perceptions of the wider benefits as well as the political popularity of such a policy. I would dearly love to see far far fewer cars on the road.
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One of the most important days of my life was when I learned to ride a bicycle - Michael Palin

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Ash28
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Re: Is cycling being oversold as free?

Postby Ash28 » 7 Nov 2010, 10:55pm

How do you make money from cycle parking ?

By making train travel an attractive alternative to cars thus enticing more fair paying passengers onto trains.

Great post from Thirdcrank reminds me of a boss who said to a guy at work " If I knew you were going to come to work on a bike I wouldn't have employed you." and another classic " If you have got the energy to ride your bike you are not working hard enough." :lol: :lol:
The Only Cyclist In The Village

FatBat
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Re: Is cycling being oversold as free?

Postby FatBat » 7 Nov 2010, 11:11pm

The way I see it (regarding parking at rail stations), the train companies want to attract as many passengers as possible. You do this by offering a reasonable service to as many people as possible. In most cases, there is no way that it would be feasible to provide car parking for everyone. In my work, we usually assume a single car parking space costs around £300 per year to maintain. The land it takes up probably would cost thousands. So, the companies has to do its sums and decide how many spaces to provide and how much to charge. They will charge whatever they think the market will bear - and the number of full station car parks shows that the market, generally, will bear the prices they charge. But, even with full car parks, they still need to attract more passengers. By making cycling a realistic option, anyone living with about 5km (say) of the station becomes a potential passenger, rather than the 1km( say) catchment if they had to walk. Cycle parking is so cheap to install (as someone else said, it is usually placed on part of the station that cannot be used for any other purpose) and cheap to maintain that it doesn't make sense to charge for its use. Plus, if they did start charging, cycles could generally be chained up elsewhere for no charge.

As an aside, a cycle parking facility has just opened at Leeds station - and you do have to pay to park there.

snibgo
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Re: Is cycling being oversold as free?

Postby snibgo » 7 Nov 2010, 11:20pm

OldGreyBeard wrote:Is there an argument for free, basic facilties e.g. covered Sheffield stands, with an option for paid for more secure facilities?

There might be. You could speak to whoever runs railway stations nowadays, perhaps via your local cycling club. You could say, "We've done a straw poll and think that 100 cyclists would be prepared to pay 30p a day for 200 days a year (but discounted season tickets) for lockers etc, so please provide them."

I predict you'd get a polite brush-off. But if that happened at 1000 stations around the country, someone might take some notice.

thirdcrank
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Re: Is cycling being oversold as free?

Postby thirdcrank » 7 Nov 2010, 11:33pm

On the specific subject of combining cycle and train travel, recommended iirc, in the Notional Cycling Strategy this was launched as Bike and Rail to a fanfare by whatever the ministry of transport was called in those days about - a decade ago . The concept was a bit hazy, mushy even. Cyclists thought it meant taking bikes on trains, and Railtrack, the TOCs and the people in general who got to decide who played with the train set had other ideas, usually represented by a couple of sheffield stands. Several Traffic Advisory leaflets were published on the subject (still available online, I think) and they were so desperate to show examples of good practice that they more or less decided that if the words bike and train were mentioned in the same sentence then that would count.

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Cunobelin
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Re: Is cycling being oversold as free?

Postby Cunobelin » 8 Nov 2010, 7:38am

FatBat wrote:The way I see it (regarding parking at rail stations), the train companies want to attract as many passengers as possible. You do this by offering a reasonable service to as many people as possible. I


You aren't familiar with South West Trains and Southern Trains then......

No space for luggage bigger than a briefcase, seats 3" narrower than the UK's average hips and now no toilets on trains or stations!