22 September 2009

More cyclists out there?

At first I thought it was all down to pesky 'fair weather' cyclists - those who when the sun shines get the old bike out for a bit of exercise, then store it away at the first sign of rain.

Sorry, I'm talking about cycle parking and shower facilities where I work. In the past, most of the time I had the freedom of the building yard when it came to parking, and a choice of showers as there's one on the ground floor (open to all building occupants) and another one upstairs in my employer's offices (two in fact, since one is designated 'male' and the other 'female' but they are both individual showers, so the distinction is purely academic).

Yet recently I experienced for the first time a queue for all 3 showers - OK, a queue of 1 in each, but it meant a wait of 15'. And I notice that the yard bike racks are busy even in bad weather. So, it must be a sign that more people are cycling than before - or that the building's occupancy has risen. Or perhaps that Manchester College (one of the tennants) is using more of their space here as classrooms. I suspect is all of the above.

Now, it would be fine if it wasn't because many fellow cyclists (and this is an old bugbear of mine) tend to park their bikes in between racks, rather than mount their rides ON them. I know, these racks are not the best and they risk being 'wheel benders' but there's only so much room, yet people merrily plonk their bikes, on the ground, in between two racks. In some cases this is because they've got D-locks and that's the only way they can wrap it round both frame and at least the bike wheel. In other cases, it's just sheer laziness. In all cases, it feels inconsiderate and is a bit of a bugger for those of us who, after the school run, arrive at work that little bit later.

There is of course extra (and more secure) parking in the building's basement, but getting to it is like making it through the 36 chambers of Shaolin - three flights of stairs, four doors, a combination lock. The basement in question is the old factory loos of when this building was some sort of factory, complete with wooden panels separating white toilets against a background of green tiles. Behind so many doors, it is a very eerie place - nobody would hear you scream if you came across a ghost...

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