Bikeoff: A crime design dreamShareThis
The days of dreary bike parking have gone – slender shapes and potted plants now decorate London’s streets, and keep our cycles safer. This transformation comes thanks to the tireless work of Bikeoff, set up in 2004 to research the impact of parking design on bike security. After watching 8,000 people lock their bikes to Sheffield stands, in 180 different and often terrible ways, it was clear something needed to be done.
Different solutions for different contexts
“We’ve tried to look at the most common stands, and change as little as possible but the parking behaviour,” says Adam Thorpe, Bikeoff director. The M-Stand has been cemented into the city streets in a bid to combat bad locking practices – specifically locking just the frame, leaving two very vulnerable wheels.
“Quite often people lock badly,” explains Mr Thorpe: “We design things that make people lock at least ok, if not good.” But ancient alleys often leave little space for cyclists, and call for more innovative design.
The Cyclehoop, created in response to the Reinventing the Bike Shed brief half a decade ago, has radicalised the common practice of locking to lampposts. Before, Londoners would struggle to fit d-locks around the posts, and be unable to achieve the ‘good’ locking practice of both wheels and frame being secured.
But now, with the Cyclehoop creating circular shapes around a lamppost, the cyclist is free to lock lavishly.
Taking poor design off the streets
As a result, unfit bike parking is swiftly being abandoned. Butterfly stands, which let cyclists lock just one wheel to a flimsy metal rod are now only really used in semi-private areas, and even then offer little security.
Clamp stands appear less risky but are angular and can scratch up your bike. “People get fed up with clamp stands and end up not using them in the way they’re meant to be used,” says Mr Thorpe.
Bikeoff research has shown that the harder secure locking is for the user, the less likely they are to achieve it.
Working with advocacy groups, the police, and even bike thieves has helped create the most extensive cycle security design resource. Exploring everything from colourful Snake Locks to cycling advocacy schemes, the Bikeoff website offers guidance for cyclists, policy makers, and designers.
Mr Thorpe is a champion of open innovation: “It’s about sharing knowledge and letting different groups take it and apply it in ways that are relevant to them.” This has had a huge impact on parking in the capital, and will hopefully ensure the new breed of city cyclists are securely locked. Twice.