Even I thought that putting Oxford’s first bike hub in the basement of the Town Hall was a bit of a pipe dream. How wrong I was.

Councillor John Tanner and some council officers recently joined me on a tour of the basement.

It turns out there are acres of disused vaults down there, just aching to be turned into luxury bike parking for you and me.

A bike hub can be anything from a simple covered bike parking area with CCTV to something quite sophisticated – covered bike parking with concierge, shower facilities, bike repair facility and bike hire with free cycle maps, an advice centre, even integrated with a bike shop (to help the facility pay its way).

In Japan, they have taken hubs to another level, see guardian.co.uk/environment/green-living-blog/2009/nov/ 05/japan-best-bike-shed and you’ll see what I mean. At Kansai station, in Tokyo, they have built a hub with space for 6,000 bikes.

Cyclists ride up to the hub door, push their bike on to a metal runner and enter a code. The door opens and a robot whisks the bike away and parks it automatically, way underground. It takes seconds to get your bike back. This sort of facility would be fantastic in our crowded city centre.

Perhaps the colleges could all invest in one, and leave the on-street parking for poor old residents.

Bike hubs in Oxford would mean three important things: 1. A dry bike: it isn’t just wet bums that can make cycling a misery (a plastic bag can save you from that). It’s when the cables seize and the metal parts corrode that you realise leaving a bike outdoors isn’t a great idea.

2. Security: in a hub, your bike would be there when you came back. Bike theft is a massive problem in Oxford. As the county council itself says: “The risk of theft can deter people from using their cycles, and it is not uncommon for people who have had a cycle stolen to cease cycling altogether. On the other hand, prominent cycle parking at a destination can raise awareness of the possibilities of cycle use. The council is therefore committed to securing more and better cycle parking [which] will lead to a reduction in cycle theft in Oxfordshire. This is desirable not only in transport terms … but also in terms of the council’s responsibilities within the Crime and Disorder Act 1998. There were 3,894 cycles reported as stolen in Oxfordshire in 1997; 2,704 of these were in Oxford.” Hello? I think we’re ready for that quality of cycle provision now!

3. Utility: you’d know you’d be able to park. Nothing is more infuriating than cycling into town only to find there are no free spaces. Adding insult to injury, the lamp-posts have helpful stickers saying: “Do not park your bicycle here – use the nearest bike rack” as if there were loads.

A hub wouldn’t just be good news for cyclists. A hub would be great news for retailers. And a hub would benefit pedestrians, as bikes would be less likely to be parked on pavements and against street furniture.

There are UK precedents: Cambridge’s brand-new shopping centre has John Lewis as its flagship tenant.

In the basement, there is a 500-capacity bike hub, along with a bike shop that hires and repairs bicycles. That’s exactly what Oxford needs.