Bike parking: a piece of the puzzle

The historic epicentre of my city is a peninsula, but a century of urban sprawl has shifted the geographical epicentre much further inland. Where the old city has been the focus of public transport, the logical (if unromantic) location for a main railway station, is out there in a place we lovingly call, “no place in particular”.

Now, we can cry about urban sprawl, and its detrimental impact on social cohesion, emissions, any genius loci, etc., or, we can let bikes be the sprawling city’s redemption. Just as it is better to retrofit a 1970s high rise building to give it a 3 or 4-star energy rating, than it is to knock down and replace it with something 5 or 6-star, sprawling cities aren’t quite ready for nuking. Gentlemen, we can rebuild them. We have the technology (bikes), and we can scrape together $6,000,000. Each will be better, stronger, and faster, than even Steve Austin.

But what can you get for six million smakas? Well, a hell of a lot of bike infrastructure (if you spend it judiciously), plus secure bicycle parking near your city’s geographically most central rail stop.


Broadmeadow bike parking. Image: Tom Hatton

The bicycle loop I’m proposing be forged in my city, would put Broadmeadow station within half an hour, by bike, of most people’s homes. A trip to Sydney could begin with a bike ride to the station, where ones rail ticket would have embedded within the cost, a secure place to leave their own bike, plus free use of a bike-share when they hit the big smoke.

The Dutch have been leaders in the integration of bikes with trains. Instead of running longer trains, with whole carriages set aside only for bikes, they allow folding bikes on board their trains for no extra charge, and expect people with regular bikes will use different ones at either end of their journeys. I bought my own Bromton in Amsterdam, from the shop I presume is responsible for the half dozen Brommies you see on every train platform at Centraal Station. Most of the other passengers would have just left their bike at the cheap secure parking bay, or else chained an old one to rack, and would have other bikes of some kind waiting for them at their destination. The system is explained at 2mins30 in the video above, from the Dutch Cycling Embassy:


Tom Hatton’s vision for a secure bike parking facility here in our city, borrows the faceted glass look of Jean Nouvel’s 100 11th Ave apartments in New York, that he has used to sex up an inverted “eco-cycle” bike parking system, as used in Japan. It seems fitting in countries where cycling is perceived as low class, that infrastructure built for it, be especially prestigious in style:

The old spur line that takes passenger trains to the old city centre, has long been earmarked for removal. As someone who lives in the city, I’m none too pleased, personally, about drivers calling for its removal, because it stops them with an occasional boom-gate. But when I shallow my pride, I can see the folly of leading heavy rail to the end of a peninsular. Replacing it with light rail, along a pedestrian/biking greenway, does make some sense. And if that were to happen, god I hope the route at least to gives cycling precedence over cars where they cross, and can be lined with bike parking, and bike-share pods. A bike-share scheme, in this particular Australian city, will fare well in the face of mandatory helmets laws: we ignore most every law anyway.

Proposed bike parking towers along greenway to city. Image Tom Hatton

Public bike parking in city centre. Image Tom Hatton


  1. Sam Clifford says:

    Great idea but I couldn’t let this post go without commenting on how butt ugly Broadmeadow station’s exterior is. The platforms aren’t so bad, but the facade is horrid. I wouldn’t prefer the glass and metal monstrosity that would usually replace it, but surely we can do better than brutalism.

  2. Lukas says:

    I love the look of the bike tower and wonder how it may work? Chuck two dollars in a slot and hang your bike on a hook appearing from a void? Then make sure to remember the locker number and a pin, because otherwise you’re screwed?
    I have just been in Switzerland, where we travelled by train for 3 weeks. Every train station has a bike parking station catering for from 50 to hundreds of bikes. None of them I thought to be very pretty (think Broadmeadow train station), but all were full and used.
    By the way the tower above would also look good on the beach, where we apparently have a big parking problem acording to todays paper. Funny enough I have never noticed the parking problem, but I am sure if those who have noticed it would ride in on their bike, that should go a long way towards reducing it.

    • Steven says:

      thanks for that. You know, I’ve never actually been to Switzerland— if you don’t count one of the virtual realms in my VR bike training package.
      So glad I don’t read local newspapers. You know, their journalists get paid less than bloggers!

  3. Jess says:

    The tower does look good, but more than that, I thinkn there is a certain tradition of romance with the “final stop” station. If the line were to be stopped at Broadmeadow, the first glance of the city for first time arrivals and even those returning home to Newcastle would be at best, underwhelming. There is something about Newcastle station’s vista of the ocean and sprawl of nearby greenspace that allows Newcastle even a modest amount of majesty upon entrance. I think that it is these kinds of “opening scenes” that allow a visitor the sense of optimism that whispers ” I could live here. I could ride a bike here” broadmeadow on the other hand……

    • Steven says:

      this is a bike blog, so i must say, visitors can have their gateway encounters of the old city, on bikes, rather than trains. I say that as someone who lives near the terminus station, and who remembers the flyer. But no more rail debate on my blog, if that’s okay 🙂 It is used as a distraction from constructive things that won’t happen, for as long as people discuss it.

  4. Jess says:

    Haha, fair enough:) not meaning to distract, I think train travel and cycling are akin in their ability to promote a visual/ emotional and contemplative experience of a place, therefore accessibility by both means in tandem or seperately offer visitors and locals alike a more meaningful daily experience. Note to self, google “rail blogs”;)

    • Steven says:

      I like business class and sleeper trains, and I really like ferries. I recommend anyone coming to Newcastle via our airport, cycle down the hard sand of stockton beach at low tide, come across on the ferry, then tell me if this really was worth recommending 🙂

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