Get on your bike! This was the message from Prime Minister Boris Johnson yesterday as he launched ambitious plans to get us all off the sofa and out walking and cycling. As part of an initiative to help us all lose that lockdown flab, the PM announced that the Government will be rolling out thousands of miles of new protected bike lanes, cycle training for everyone, and even bikes available on prescription.
The new plan aims to build on the huge number of people who took up cycling during the pandemic. Everyone has been unearthing their old bike from the back of the shed. Buying a new cycle has been an impossible ambition as specialist suppliers like Halfords completely sold out all their stock and even decent second-hand bikes, usually readily available, have been like gold dust. The Government’s plans are clearly popular as the website set up to distribute £50 vouchers so that people could get broken bikes fixed, crashed within minutes of its launch.
But even if you can get your old bike back in working order, if you live in a flat, where are you supposed to keep it? Short of hanging it on the wall or from the ceiling of your flat – which could breach the terms of your tenancy agreement if you rent your home – many people have few options.
Modern developments often now include bike storage but are older blocks ready for a deluge of bike ownership? Anyone who has lived in a residential block has suffered a neighbour who insists on keeping their bike in the hallway outside their door. One of our property managers has even reported seeing a resident taking a motorbike up in the lift!
But bikes in common areas are a potential trip hazard and could block an exit route if a fire breaks out, so proper storage will be needed. Could developers build and demise secure bike stores for performance bikes with fully protected hinges and locks -and does a secure bike store need planning permission? These questions will need quick answers if we are all to buy-in to cycling.
Another big issue is the number of flat owners who don’t have the contents insurance that is necessary to cover a bike. Bike theft increased during lockdown but recent figures suggest that up to two-thirds of people living in flats don’t have their own insurance. Don’t just assume that your buildings insurance will cover theft. It won’t.
So don’t get caught out. Talk to your landlord or property manager about storage options. And make sure you cover your bike – if you can get hold of one – with the right insurance.