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Westminster motorcycle parking quiz

June 30, 2009

In an earlier post, we made the point that Westminster City Council seem to have chosen to ignore the 300,000+ French nationals who legally live in the United Kingdom on a permanent basis, under the European Union immigration rules. While the council has decided to offer some limited help to the Spanish, Portuguese, Chinese, Arabic and Bengali communities, by translating basic information into their respective language, they have chosen to totally ignore one of the largest foreign communities established in the UK, that is the French, who only come from less than 20 miles (32 kilometers) away from the UK coast. But how surprising is this really, given that Westminster Council have also chosen so far to ignore thousands of motorcyclists protesting every month in Central London at motorcycle parking charges, introduced on an experimental basis in August 2008, to fill up the council’s coffers, after they had lost £17 million invested in failed Icelandic banks and another £15 million from failed CCTV cameras?

Now, we wonder whether the parking bosses at Westminster City Council have a good command of their own (English?) language, Hmm. Or could it be that they are unable to publish consistent information on their own website? While looking at the motorcycle parking pages on the council’s website today, we have spotted the following two statements at the time of writing:

Statement 1 – Motorcycle Parking Policy:

“Prior to the launch of the charging scheme in August 2008, the number of motorcycle parking bays in the City was increased by 44%, from 4,500 to 6,550 bays, including approximately 400 in the City Council’s secure car parks. We are currently installing a further 500 dedicated spaces in our off-street car parks”.

Statement 2 – Where can I park?:

“There are now over 600 bays across Westminster with 6100 spaces for motorcycles on street”.

Although English is not our first language, we speak and read it well enough to understand that a bay does not have the same meaning as a space in the context of motorcycles, does it? On one hand, Westminster advise that there are 6,550 bays in the borough (statement 1) and on the other, we are advised that there are only 600 bays (statement 2)! In terms of spaces, we are advised in statement 2 that there are 6,100 spaces available for motorcycles on street, compared with 6,150 bays in statement 1 (after deducting 400 bays in secure car parks which, per the statement, are included in the 6,550 bays). We hadn’t actually realised that there were more on-street motorcycle bays available in Westminster than motorcycle spaces, which makes us wonder whether Westminster understand the difference in English between a bay and a space in motorcycle terms. How embarrassing is it that foreign people, for whom English is not their first language, feel the need to go and teach Westminster Council the difference between a “bay” and a “space” in what is supposed to be their first language? Having said that, we know for sure that there’s no need for us to teach them the meaning of the term “money“, because this is what they’re best at collecting from their 6,150 bays (excluding the 400 in car parks), 6,100 spaces and their further 600 bays!

Now, let’s dig in a little bit further. Statement 1 suggests that there are 400 motorcycle bays in the City Council’s secure car parks, with a further 500 spaces being installed. So 400 bays + 500 spaces doesn’t help us to figure out how many bays and spaces there are in those secure car parks, does it? 

Oh, we were almost going to forget to check Westminster’s basic mathematical skills! Statement 1 says that the number of motorcycle bays in the City have increased by 44% since August 2008. Well, to us, 6,550 minus 4,500 divided by 4,500 multiplied by 100 equals to 45.55%, i.e. 46% rounded up. Perhaps they were confused with the additional 500 spaces in car parks that they couldn’t possibly add to the 6,550 bays? Anyway, we very well know that a few Westminster Conservative councillors and employees had difficulties in mathematics at school.


Casimir ecole

We wonder who is on the picture. Any ideas?

Not only Westminster Council can’t prepare and publish coherent information for public use, but they also seem unable to differentiate a car from a motorcycle. While only one car can fit in one bay and, in this instance, a bay can be considered as a space, we have great difficulty to imagine Westminster parking services accepting the idea of one motorcycle filling one bay on its own. This is, in our opinion, another example of Westminster City Council failing to recognise the benefits of motorcycles, one of which being the small amount of kerb space they actually occupy. Did Susie Burbridge not say that beause “motorcycles, even small ones, pollute more than Hummers”, “being environmentally friendly would be to encourage motorbikers to use more public transport”?

Do Westminster Council treat motorcycles like cars? Yes, they seem to, so we might as well behave like cars and congest! Eh, why not?

We wonder how long Westminster City Council will take to update their website, given the time they have taken lately to answer their Freedom of Information requests. Have these public servants been feeling a little bit under pressure recently?


1st July 2009 – Please join the demonstration and say NO to the bike parking tax in Westminster! For further details, visit

1er Juillet 2009 – Assistez a la manifestation pour protester contre le stationnement payant des deux-roues a Westminster! Pour de plus amples informations, consultez


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