Hackney resident speaks out over lack of bike storage as #thisisawkward campaign reveals cyclists’ eye-popping workarounds

The Cherry family’s picture features on the campaign’s billboard. Photograph: Alex Bigham

“It’s really awkward having to store bikes in our toilet,” said Hackney cyclist Frances Cherry.

She is calling for more secure public storage to help families protect their bicycles.

“We have bikes in the toilet and also in the hallway,” she added. “We’ve had bikes stolen so we need to keep them safe.”

Her photograph of bikes stored in the toilet features on billboards in Stroud Green Road in Islington, highlighting the tight spaces in which people keep their bikes under the #thisisawkward banner.

Pictures submitted include someone who sleeps in a bed next to their bike, a bike stored close to an oven, and bikes hanging over a balcony in a housing estate.

A Twitter submission shows bikes hanging on a balcony. Image: @citycyclists

Cherry and her family started cycling more when roads were quieter because of the lockdown and are keen to carry on. They have also ditched their car.

Like other flat-dwellers in Hackney, they say they are limited in where they can keep bikes because storing them on communal walkways is a fire risk.

Not all models of bikes fit in lifts and it can be tricky carrying them up and down stairs to reach communal storage in some blocks of flats.

Hackney boasts the highest number of people cycling to work in London and the second highest number in England after Cambridge.

There are 4,977 cyclists on the waiting list for bike hangars in Hackney according to research by the Clean Cities Campaign, with 3,600 spaces provided in 600 bike shelters across the borough.

Bath solution: Another radical workaround. Image: @CycleIslington

Researchers from the Clean Air Wins coalition found there is a waiting list of 60,715 people wanting to hire a bike hangar across London’s 32 boroughs – nearly three times more than the 22,592 spaces available in London.

According to the council, just 30 per cent of Hackney residents own a car, and campaigners say people need to feel confident of keeping bikes safe.

Cherry called on the Town Hall to help by making more space for bike hangars on the streets.

“They should just cut the number of storage spaces for cars on the roads and put bike hangers in their place,” she said.

Aled Richards, the council’s strategic director of sustainability and public realm, said the borough has the highest amount of cycle parking in London with 650 cycle hangars, 2,758 parking stands, 106 bike ports and 414 cycle hoops.

He said: “We also have the highest levels of cycling and this means there is high demand for the services.

“Hackney manages its cycle hangar membership programme in-house, which allows close monitoring and management of demand as well as providing an excellent service.

“The programme has been a success and attracted high demand, which increases with the introduction of each cycle hangar.”

The council is looking at ways to get more funding to provide more, he said.