|Absolutely every bike stand I saw was filled and most|
had two bikes, some even three
I know there is a lot of rivalry between my home city of Southampton and Portsmouth - personally I couldn't care less. I'll treat others as I'd wish to be treated - old wounds of football reputation and dock workers are not worth reopening.
A lot of people from Southampton tend to travel down to Pompey for the shops, the restaurants and the views. We have our own views here but the grass can look quite green over the distant horizon. The first thing I noticed on my trip to Pompey yesterday is the amount of bike shops. Amanda's Cycle Shop on Commercial road has the tempting sign of "Bikes from £9" that gives the Everyman impression that cycling needs.
Wiggle are based there. As are Cycleworld.
My trip there was for a family dinner, we walked around the shops and the Spinnaker Tower - even climbing up to see ant-sized people and vehicles travel the city. What was quite amusing is how you don't need a map when giving directions from the Tower's viewing platforms. The young lad who was a guide and assistant there stood by the windows helping people find their way around the city with a point of a finger.
So on to demand - how do you tell if there is demand for cycling in a city? Well are all the cycle stands filled would be my guess - and every one I passed was. In fact a large number of bikes were chained to railings, lamp posts, walls and fences and even the odd door handle. Several stands I saw had three bikes on them. Either as a group chained together or three separate bikes - two either size and a third with a wheel locked at the bottom from the end.
Another indicator is how many people turn up at what are called closed road events. In Southampton 10,000+ people turned up to the local Sky Ride. Portsmouth didn't seem to have their own this year, perhaps this is why the local BUG offered to bring some riders to Southampton's event. Closed road events offer the inexperienced and timid the chance to ride without the fear of traffic.
I estimate that 1 in 10 that I saw travelling around Portsmouth were cyclists. This is probably because its easier to park, cheaper and dare I say it probably quicker.