Sunday, 1 June 2014

Parking: New Victoria Infirmary

A few years ago, a local hospital was built on the site of the old Queen's Park Secondary school, just across the road from the soon-to-be-closed Victoria Infirmary, whose in-patient, geriatric and A&E services are due to be migrated to the New Southern General.

The "New" Victoria is purely a day hospital, which amongst other things incorporates a nurse-led Minor Injuries unit and an Out-of-Hours GP service. I had recently been afflicted by a fairly nasty case of dermatitis, which seems to have developed out of a sweat rash around my wrists, courtesy of my cheapo synthetic cycling gloves (£5 from Sportsdirect - I suppose you get what you pay for).

As per typical male behaviour and having not been inside a GP surgery for well over a decade, I'd been avoiding consulting the experts on this for a few weeks and months, until last week it got the point where it was unavoidable. My eye had swollen up so much that people were wondering how I'd managed to come off my bike...

Here's it at it's worst. Those in the process of eating should look away now:

Hmmm... lovely! Word of advice to those suffering similar problems: get it checked out without delay; it'll make things much more pleasant in the long run.

Anyway, I couldn't wait any longer for my proposed GP appointment, so I took myself over to the New Vicky to get seen. I took the bike of course. When I arrived at the main entrance off Grange Drive, this is what I came across.

seems pretty clear what this means - bikes = not welcome!

As you can probably tell, I was a bit non-plussed by this, and it wasn't immediately clear where else I could go. After a bit of searching (and after what one might consider a naughty salmon against a "no entry" sign) I discovered the bike parking in the large underground car-park:

Not bad, but still not that much for a large public facility...
... ahh that's better!
In hindsight, having the facilities in the covered, sheltered basement makes much more sense than being partially exposed at street level, but there are some problems with this approach. There isn't an obvious way to get to the basement from the main road outside. If we look at the map:

View Larger Map

You notice a couple of things:
  1. The main entrance is a little one-way loop back onto the main road
  2. The next road one comes up against is a one-way exit - no official access this way
  3. The route you should take on bike is the same as for cars i.e. along Queen's Park Road, right at the roundabout and through the car park
It might seem a little pedantic of me to complain about this, but the issues here remind me of what Mark Treasure wrote about inhumane road layouts, whereby the access to larger sites - both public and private - is designed almost exclusively with motor vehicle use in mind; other forms of ingress are tacked on as an afterthought, if thought of at all.

The troubling thing here is that the nature of the building - an NHS hospital - is as public a site as one could possibly imagine. New Victoria Hospital should be universally accessible to all and, given the public health imperative, there ought to be an advantage to using more active methods. Sadly, the opportunity has been at least partially missed this time around. Given Magnatom's lamentation on bike access at his work, it looks like a pattern in the NHS is forming.

Thus, it isn't just about the number of spaces provided: it's the mindset that privileges cars above all else that needs to be revisited.

p.s. the infection cleared up nicely! Am on the road to recovery