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Mobility and Transport

Overview

Bicycle maintenance and repair facilities add to the comfort and safety of cyclists. Differing levels of provision can be given, from self-service options like simple air pumps to more complex offerings, including service and repair of bicycles by professionals.

Considerations for applicability

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Level of cycling

The level of cycling within a city is likely to influence the desired provision of bicycle maintenance and repair facilities, including location.

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Urban layout/topography

Maintenance and repair facilities such as air pumps could be of higher significance to cities with hilly topography.

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Population

Publicly available services, such as air pumps and repair services, could increase the level of comfort of people cycling who are not familiar with the city.

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Finance Resources

Air pumps are a low-cost measure, whereas self-service stations are more costly. Simple self-serve stations need to be tendered, purchased and installed. Maintenance of equipment could be undertaken by existing road maintenance teams, the regulatory authorities or parking space enforcers.

Larger repair and maintenance facilities are relatively more expensive to plan and implement and may require significant ongoing costs to cover the staffing. However, these services are often offered by clubs or private companies (e.g. Bicycle Kitchen) and so the city may not incur any costs.

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Time & Human Resources

Installation of simple self-service repair stations can be relatively quick and require only occasional ongoing maintenance. Larger self-service and staffed facilities can require more time to plan and install, and more significant ongoing human resource requirements for staffing.

Measure impact highlight

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Community

The primary impact of maintenance and repair facilities is the creation of a positive environment for cyclists and the associated improved perception of cycling to city inhabitants. The provision of repair and maintenance facilities may be interpreted as a sign of support from the city for cycling.

Note: An overview of the direct and indirect impacts resulting from correctly implemented cycling measures is available in Challenges that cities face and how cycling can address them

In-depth measure analysis, case studies and further guidance

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Key features

Bicycle maintenance and repair facilities include self-service facilities and services carried out by a bicycle technician.

Self-service facilities can be as simple as air pumps to inflate tyres, which are a common, low-cost measure installed in cities. They can be operated by the user’s foot or hand, or by an electric air-compressor system. They are usually situated at strategic and safe locations in the city which could be popular destinations, such as public transport nodes or the commercial district; or alongside existing cycle infrastructure that supports a high volume of cycle traffic, such as cycle highway.

More complex repair stations can also offer repair tools and racks for hanging bicycles. Complementary services such as drinking water and hand washing facilities may be present, which can increase the convenience of using the repair station. These self-service stations tend to be metallic boxes with the tools stored inside. As they have higher costs relative to air pumps, these self­-service stations may not be as widely spread across cities, but will instead be located at safely accessible spots most frequented by cyclists.

Repair and maintenance services provided by bicycle technicians can be offered at bicycle shops and dedicated repair stations. These are often connected to large bicycle parking facilities or multimodal hubs at Bike & Ride stations (see Malmö and Brighton case studies), where there is a high and concentrated demand for the service.

Some maintenance and repair garages will offer a combined measure of both self-service and professional guidance if required. The Bicycle Kitchen in Malmö is a place where people come to repair their bicycle themselves using the garage tools, while getting advice from staff or volunteers working in the garage.

Public and free-to-use repair and maintenance facilities are most often implemented and maintained by a public body. However, as described above, facilities can also be offered at bicycle parking facilities or multimodal hub that are privately run. Furthermore, as cycling culture and the number of cyclists develops in a city, the market will respond and the supply of privately-owned bicycle stores and facilities will increase.

Bicycle repair workshop

Function and objectives

Maintenance and repair facilities support the comfort, continuity and safety of cycling in a city. It is a measure highly valued by users, as revealed in a survey in Malmö on the facilities accompanying Bike & Ride stations.

The provision of the service can enable people to proactively maintain their bicycles, ensuring they run efficiently and reducing the chance of malfunctions that can cause accidents and interrupt a trip. This use of the facilities is not assumed and relies on the user making a decision to carry out maintenance, which can be encouraged through education and awareness raising events and campaigns.

More commonly, the facilities are used reactively when there is a clear problem with the operation of the bike. The ability to repair the bicycle using a nearby facility can help cyclists to continue their trip without a significant delay. The location of a repair facility at a bicycle parking site or multimodal hub provides bicycle users with a convenient opportunity to have their bike serviced or repaired, while they do not require its use. The presence of customers or staff at repair facilities at parking sites can have the added benefit of increased security, by acting as a deterrent to theft or vandalism. Additionally, the provision of repair and maintenance facilities contributes to positive cycling culture, enhancing the awareness of cycling in the city.

Complementary measures

Maintenance and repair facilities are effective when supporting other cycling infrastructure measures, such as bicycle parking facilities and Bike & Ride stations - where there is often a high demand for such facilities. (see http://ec.europa.eu/transport/node/6219{2.1 Cycle parking as Link}) Maintenance and repair facilities should also be easily accessible by bicycle and are often located adjacent to the cycling network, which provides a high volume of passing cyclists.

The measure can be complemented by http://ec.europa.eu/transport/node/6214{3.1 Cycle information and awareness raising as Link} that educates the public about the location of the facilities, the importance of bicycle maintenance and how to carry out repair and maintenance activities.

Performance

Maintenance and repair facilities enhance the appeal of cycling in a city and can be an effective supporting measure that compliments other cycle infrastructure. The self-service repair stations located in large parking facilities in Brussels, Malmö and Brighton, see good use of the service.

The experience in Malmö of providing of a network of air pumps has shown that implementing simple repair facilities can be an effective way to increase the comfort of cyclists and improve the perception of cycling in the city.

A well-serviced bicycle with effective brakes, correctly inflated tires and smooth gearshifts, can support road safety by improving the cyclist’s ability to avoid collisions and keeping the cyclist's attention on the road rather than the condition of their bicycle. Benefits relating to routine maintenance of the bicycle may rely on the owner of a bicycle being aware of the benefits of and being motivated to, carry out maintenance activities.

Transferability

The provision of maintenance and repair facilities can be applied to all cities. Although a high level of cycling within a city will support high usage of the measure, this measure can be effective at supporting the uptake of cycling in cities with low levels of cycling.

Parameters of success or failure

The presence of groups interested in cycling, such as students and tourists, enables the measure to be promoted to a larger target group looking to enhance their leisure experiences. However, the presence of these groups is not necessary for the deployment of maintenance and repair facilities.

A key factor influencing the success of maintenance and repair facilities is the choice of their location. They are well placed at parking facilities, intermodal hubs, and along main nodes of the cycling network where cycle volumes are high. In Malmö, citizens were given the opportunity to suggest locations of future air pumps via a website, ensuring that location decisions take account of demand.

Simple and less costly solutions such as air pumps can be implemented more frequently across a cycling network, increasing their accessibility and the overall attractiveness of a cycling network.

The visibility of the facilities is another factor of success. They should be clearly identifiable within the cycle network and present on maps. While visibility is important to ensure they can be identified by cyclists who require their service, it is also important for raising awareness of cycling in the city amongst the wider population.

Ongoing maintenance of repair and maintenance stations will be an important factor in keeping facilities, such as self-service boxes or air pumps, operational and easy to use. Inspections of facilities could be undertaken alongside other road and public facility inspections. Alternatively, users can be provided with a way to report broken air pump. In Malmö, users are able to do this through a website. Selecting robust and easy-to-use designs when purchasing equipment will also support lower maintenance costs.

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[collapsed title=Repair and maintenance facilities at the Brighton Cycling Hub (Brighton, UK)]

  • Location: North, North East
  • Population: Large urban area (275,800)
  • Cycling Modal Share: Climber (5%)

The Brighton Cycle Hub, which is situated at Brighton's main railway station, offers secure storage, bicycle servicing and repair, cycling equipment and guided rides. The aim was to bring all of these facilities together within the Hub in order to provide facilities for local cyclists using the train station, but also those in the local area. Grouping the facilities together provides a captive audience of cyclists. The presence of the café next to the secure parking also provides passive surveillance for the facility during the day.

The development of the Hub was initiated by the City Council and the local train operator, Southern Rail, which operates the station. The construction of the Hub was in line with the objectives and policies of central government, as well as those of the City Council, to support cycling to reduce pollution and obesity.

The Hub features a repair station where cyclists can leave the keys for their bicycle lock and the associated number of their cycle space so that their bike can be serviced when they are away. The cycle repairs are undertaken by the cycle repair shop, which is located within the same building next to the secure cycle storage facility. The café is linked to the shop and acts as a focal point for regular group rides, which cater for all abilities and fitness levels.

The inclusion of all of the various services for cyclists in one building is positive, as it acts as a one-stop-shop for cyclists. The café and repair shops also benefit from the close proximity to each other and to the parking facilities.

Such hubs are transferable and similar facilities have since been constructed for Southern Rail at various important stations in the region. These are smaller than the facility in Brighton, but all have a pump for public use and a repair stand from which cyclists can borrow tools to undertake minor repairs on their bicycles. Increasingly in the UK, Cycle Hubs are placed at or near rail stations to enable multi-modal sustainable travel. It is important to note that the term Cycle Hub can refer to different provisions of facilities and services and therefore can be implemented at different scales.

The promotion of the facility is important, particularly in a new Hub's early phases, and in Brighton social media and word-of-mouth have also been important in increasing footfall. A cycling club is operated from the Hub, which has ambassadors, with Hub- specific kit that have enhanced awareness of the hub. The presence of other cycling services at the Hub also helps to promote it. The proximity of the hub to Brighton station is also key, as it provides users with a convenient location near the station.

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Credit: Cyclepods

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[collapsed title=Repair and maintenance facilities (Malmö, SE)]

  • Location: North, North East
  • Population: Large urban area (333,633)
  • Cycling Modal Share: Champion (22%)

At the Bike & Ride stations

Malmö currently provides large Bike & Ride facilities at three major train stations: Malmö Centralen; Triangeln and Hyllie. 1,000-2,200 free bicycle parking spaces are provided, with a further 100-700 spaces available for reservation at a fee. The provision of the facilities enlarges the catchment area of the train stations for active modes and offers an intermodal alternative to car trips.

While all of them are equipped with an air pump that is free of use, Malmö Centralen offers a bicycle repair station, while Triangeln and Hyllie offer repair services through a bicycle store. At all three locations, the service is provided by a private tenant.

The combination of bicycle stores and repair services offers cyclists the opportunity to leave their bicycles for repair and maintenance checks when they do not need the bike. The stores also offer an opportunity to purchase other cycling equipment or clothing.

A user survey highlighted that among the services of the Bike & Ride stations, the air pumps are valued highest. A comment from the survey suggested the need for tools to carry out simple repairs, which need to be completed quickly.

Air pumps in the city

Malmö provides more than 30 cycle pumps in the city, which are a mixture of manual and automated. Users are able to report broken air pumps via Malmö's website, as well as having the ability to suggest new locations for air pump provision..

Bicycle Kitchen (cykelköket)

"Cykelköket" is a free to use, self-service workshop for maintenance and repair. Users can borrow tools, and ask staff and volunteers for support. The Bicycle Kitchen also collects old parts that may be useful in the repair of a bike. The Bicycle Kitchen occasionally offers courses on the repair and maintenance of bicycles. The Bicycle Kitchen is part of STPLN, which experiments with new social, economic and cultural ideas. For more information: http://cykelkoket.blogspot.com/p/info-in-english.html

Self-service repair stations

Malmö provides two self-service stations with a broader range of service offers. Both are equipped with an air pump, tools, a cycling map and a rack to hang the bicycle on during repair. Another site offers drinking water and washing facilities. Experiences from Malmö show that the number of tools available reduces over time (approximately one per week) possibly through theft or damage, which leaves the city considering removing the tools from the service station.

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[collapsed title=Key guidance, further reading and references]

CMbike (2010) Central MeetBike Factsheet H-09 – signposting and service infrastructure

cmb_fact_sheet_h-09_signposting_and_services
English
(944.37 KB - PDF)
Download

CROW (2017) Design manual for bicycle traffic. Chapter 7

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