Tuesday, 22 December 2009

Parking in tenements

I'm very fond of Edinburgh's tenements. They're all much the same - dark stairwells, vague smell of mould, steps rounded with age, polished wood bannisters and a sprinkle of dust on the victorian tiles. Some are poorly kept, others gleam and smell of bleach. There's often a scrappy, unkempt garden behind them, where the best barbecues are to be had on the precious few days of summer.

They do, however, present a challenge to the Edinburgh cyclist. Many of them have old and battered front doors, giving all too easy access to any bicycles left in the staircase, where thieves can (and do) operate in relative quiet and peace. Too many bicycles can also cause problems in poorly kept tenements where unwanted goods often pile up - a friend recently lost his bike to a staircase fire, after a discarded cigarette butt lit an abandoned mattress. The tenants were fine, but the bike was melted to a crisp.

 I drag my bike up two flights of stairs to the safety of my flat, but was reminded of the bike parking problems on a visit to my sister's:

Ground floor: a random assortment of probably unused bikes. Most without saddles, and three random spare wheels.

First floor: a convenient nook for one bike. I wonder if this is an original feature?

And finally, on the 3rd floor, an acrobatically perched BMX.

I can't help to think this problem will have to be tackled for cycling to continue to grow in Edinburgh. Many tenement tenants (students, young professionals) are prime candidates for making the switch to bicycle commuting, but there's little street parking available to them, other than the odd lamp post or railing. Carrying a bike up and down several flights of stairs is not an attractive option for many, nor is keeping them in often cramped flats.

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