Monday, 12 January 2009

Step forward the Cycle Houses

First published on Green Bristol Blog Saturday, 6 September 2008

All this Chocolate Factory fracas with George Ferguson started back in May when I dared to question his pet project by asking "what are cycle houses?". Well, it seems that at last we have an answer.

The developer, Squarepeg, have suddenly realised that some naive souls might have taken the previously published sketches (e.g. below) as indicative of the design of the cycle houses. Oh dear, how simple minded the common people are.

So "to put the record straight" they have produced some new sketches, with a lot more green on them. Now, don't be foolish and think these are "definitive designs" or anything like that, will you. They are just to "illustrate the idea" of the cycle houses, and can be changed willy-nilly any time Squarepeg feel like it. That's how public consultation works these days, apparently.

The first of the new sketches (above) shows a section through the 4 storey cycle house showing the ground floor garage (although they have somehow neglected to name this) and access from the 2nd floor cycle store to the Path, based on the 4 metres of clearance that will exist between the majority of the houses and tarmac path edge. One can see that the 2nd storey floor is about 2 metres above the Path level, so a "bridge" linking the two would have a slope of at least 1 in 2, or 50%.

Now a 50% slope is way too steep for a ramp (as shown in all their previous sketches and as described in their publicity as "a seam-free sloping pathway" ), so they've had to settle for steps, about 10 of them to conform to the building regulations. So our intrepid cyclist, returning from the supermarket with panniers (or even a trailer) filled with groceries, is expected to manoeuvre her heavily laden bicycle up a flight of 10 steps to reach the bicycle store.

Or she might just nip round via the parallel street to the other side of the house and have a level access into the integral garage.

So there we have it, a cycle house is a standard 3 bed family house with vehicular and bicycle access from the street where the generously proportioned garage will provide ample car and cycle storage, but with the option of nipping out the back door directly to the local path if you're walking somewhere. Undoubtedly a "groundbreaking" concept and "a world first" as George Ferguson so modestly proclaimed back in May.

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