Harrogate shop advises drivers to park in bike lane, takes down sign after social media criticism & police advice

Bad advice from PCSO

by John Stevenson   January 20, 2014  

SnootyFrox 2

A Harrogate clothes shop has removed a sign advising customers that it was okay for them to park in the bike lane outside the store after it was criticised on Twitter and police corrected earlier advice.

Last week Snooty Frox, an upmarket designer boutique in an otherwise residential area of Harrogate, found itself the focus of attention because of a sign outside the shop that said: “Parking IS permitted in the cycle lane”.

Twitter user Samantha Parker - @dales_girl - challenged the shop on the validity of the sign:

In reply, Samantha pointed out that section 140 of the Highway Code says that drivers may park in cycle lanes marked with a dashed lane, like this one, only “if unavoidable” 

“It’s hardly in the spirit is it?” she said.

Google Street View shows quite a lot of parking space in the surrounding residential streets and Snooty Frox is the only business in the immediate area.

Snooty Frox today issued a statement via its Facebook page, explaining that the shop would now advise its customers not to park in the bike lane and had taken down the sign.

The shop claims that it had been advised that it was not an offence to park in the bike lane “as long as we were not causing an obstruction”, and says that having parking for its customers is “an essential element of the business”.

North Yorkshire police also issued a statement on the subject, apologising for the advice originally given to the shop owner on January 17 not being clear, and saying that there was “no specific definition of avoidable”.

However, the police spokesman said that motorists are asked to use their common sense and courtesy and the advice had now been clarified.

The police spokesman added:: “We apologise for this lack of clarity and misunderstanding. However, the cycle lane was in operation several months prior to 17 January.”

Here’s the full statement from Snooty Frox:

“We provide limited, off road, customer parking directly in front of the shop. Prior to the introduction of the cycle lane last year our customers also regularly used the roadside immediately in front of the shop to park during busy periods, and have done so during our 13 years of trading. We trade in an out of town location with no nearby large car parking facilities. Our customers, in the main, travel by car from all areas of the country and it is an essential element of the business that parking is available.

“It is unfortunate that this particular cycle lane was implemented without any consultation or consideration as to its impact on local business. We contacted and sought advice from both Harrogate Council and North Yorkshire Police to determine if it was an offence to park in the cycle lane. We were advised on both counts that it was not an offence as long as we were not causing an obstruction.

“This morning a North Yorkshire Police spokesman has rung to apologise for the advice given referring us to section 140 of the Highway Code which states that ‘ ....do not drive or park in a cycle lane marked by a broken white line unless it is unavoidable....’

“In view of this we will be advising our customers not to park in the cycle lane. We can only apologise if this has caused offence to anyone as this was never our intention. We do understand the issues surrounding the notice display and as a result of feedback we have now removed the sign.”

Here’s the full statement from North Yorkshire police:

“If a cycle lane is marked by signs and a broken white line, you must not drive or park in the cycle lane unless it is unavoidable.

“Although there is no specific definition of avoidable and each case will be dealt with on an individual basis, motorists are asked to use their common sense and courtesy and bear in mind the safety of all road users. If a vehicle’s presence contributes to a collision or causes an obstruction they could be prosecuted.

“We understand that information passed to a shop owner on Hookstone Road by a Police Community Support Officer on 17 January 2014 was not clearly defined. However, this was rectified three days later by a local sergeant. We apologise for this lack of clarity and misunderstanding. However, the cycle lane was in operation several months prior to 17 January.”

29 user comments

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Quote:
asked to use their common sense and courtesy

Unfortunately two things that are often in short supply. I think a lot of people would interpret "unavoidable" as something like "when you'd otherwise have to walk for a few minutes".

posted by Chuck [364 posts]
20th January 2014 - 18:32

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medical emergency and thats it as far as i'm concerned, nothing else washes with me.

If you must break the law, do it to seize power: in all other cases observe it. Gaius Julius Caesar.

stumps's picture

posted by stumps [2697 posts]
20th January 2014 - 18:35

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The shop claims that it had been advised that it was not an offence to park in the bike lane “as long as we were not causing an obstruction” - any blocking of any cycle lane is an obstruction the law should be changed and it should be an offense to park in cycle lanes all the time. Then there would be no confusion!

posted by mlimburn [20 posts]
20th January 2014 - 18:50

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Never mind avoidable, how is blocking a cycle lane with a car not considered causing an obstruction...

@rich22222

posted by rich22222 [108 posts]
20th January 2014 - 18:57

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stumps wrote:
medical emergency and thats it as far as i'm concerned, nothing else washes with me.

Fire? Riots? Floods? Run out of fuel? Dropping off your elderly grandma?
Be reasonable, don't sink to the level of the motorist.

posted by drfabulous0 [292 posts]
20th January 2014 - 19:33

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Maybe they could encourage their customers to ride in and provide a small bike rack, seeing as most of them have to drive at the moment!

posted by Jonah [3 posts]
20th January 2014 - 19:35

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Surprised by this – as I always assumed 'advisory' cycle lanes were just parking bays, pure-and-simple. Never even occured to me to object to cars being parked in them, as most of them in my experience are usually full of cars from one end to the other.

I was expecting this to be about a solid-line 'mandatory' lane – which, in my experience, is used for parking almost as much as the dashed ones, but where I thought there was at least some basis for objecting to it.

The whole topic seems rather confused – I'm not at all clear on whether all the cars I see parked regularly in certain mandatory cycle lanes are there legally or not, especially when there are no yellow lines accompanying it.

posted by FluffyKittenofT... [657 posts]
20th January 2014 - 19:38

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I live around the corner from this shop and to be honest I don't see why we are giving the shop a hard time.

The shop owners did everything correct, as the owner said, they have been trading a long time and cars have always parked outside their shop, then suddenly the council tarmacked the road and a cycle lane appeared when they put down the white lines.

The owner didn't know this was going to happen, so they contacted the council and the police who said it was OK to park there, yes you could say.... well you should damn well know all the rules of the road and the highway code by heart, but come on, its clear only the people who contribute on this forum know all the rules.

Once the advice was corrected they took the sign down, come on fellow forum users, stop giving them a hard time, you are making us look like a bunch of whingers, there was no motive or malice against cyclists here, they simple wanted to know if their clients could continue to park like they had always done, so fair play to them, instead of just saying... sod it park there, they took the time to ask the people who should know the rules, you should be complaining to the council and the police not the shop owner.

Not that this is relevant, but this new cycle lane is a bloody joke anyway, it lasts about 100 metres and its forcing the cars to funnel down at the top of the road and has made cycling at that part of the road more dangerous than before.

posted by mikeprytherch [217 posts]
20th January 2014 - 22:13

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The full text. Note the "while waiting restrictions apply", meaning that you couldn't have parked there anyway.

I don't understand the "unless unavoidable" at all; can I bring the car outside my block to put the bike on the roof and my kid in the back? (In reality, I can only do this if there's a free space...). But "do not" and "YOU MUST NOT" are different in the Code.

140
Cycle lanes. These are shown by road markings and signs. You MUST NOT drive or park in a cycle lane marked by a solid white line during its times of operation. Do not drive or park in a cycle lane marked by a broken white line unless it is unavoidable. You MUST NOT park in any cycle lane whilst waiting restrictions apply.
Law RTRA sects 5 & 8

posted by deblemund [84 posts]
20th January 2014 - 23:40

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There are no winners here.

The business, which existed long before the cycle lane, will probably suffer a loss of business, the local authority are shown to neither have the cash nor the understanding required to impliment sustainable segregation, the police have yet again demonstrated poor communication, the cycling fraternity aren't exactly smelling of roses in their condemnation of a proprietor who seems to have been quite reasonable, and this sort of news story inevitably launches a thousand "punishment passes".

Frankly, all this nonsense can be avoided if we simply accept that 30mph in town is far too fast, and 20 would be much nicer for all of us; retailers, pedestrians, cyclists, drivers, everyone. How much simpler could the solution be?

"Hey..... Let's be visible out there."

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posted by Neil753 [451 posts]
20th January 2014 - 23:53

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The residents comments above are the first sensible comments I have seen. The shop appear to have responded, politely with what they believed to be the correct situation [after evidently receiving poor advice] to a tweet outlining what they thought to be the lawful situation after the advisory cycle lane appeared without any consultation. Residents and shop visitors [it isn't just this shops customers that park there] have parked there for years. The Council haven't seen fit to propose yellow lines to stop parking, so clearly not an issue.

It's questionable why the cycle lane was even painted, though there is a campaign to get cycle lanes at a junction with traffic lights 500m up the road.

Yes, its probably right that the notice is morally wrong, but it is not an offence to park there [the police would not action any fixed penalty tickets, they consider parking a low priority anyway].

The mindless abuse however from the media, social media and the internet is nothing short of a disgrace. Threats of damage to shop, advising people to boycott the place and even threats to reveal the owners personal details. Even the local Harrogate cycle club got in on the act dishing it out - how community spirited of them eh? [You'd think they could have had a quiet word].

posted by TheFog [5 posts]
21st January 2014 - 0:26

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He needs the parking for deliveries of organic tat:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uVvcD4Czx4Y


Leviathan of Riderstate

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posted by bikeboy76 [1238 posts]
21st January 2014 - 0:35

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There is limited off-road parking in front of the shop..... on the footway? HA1980 s.137 (obstruction)? preceded by HA1835 s.72 (driving a carriage on footway) or are they using the former front garden (residential area) and exercising right to drive over footway.

Must look next time I'm in HG

47 years of breaking bikes and still they offer me a 10 year frame warranty!

A V Lowe's picture

posted by A V Lowe [481 posts]
21st January 2014 - 4:50

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Judging from the story and the comments what we have here is nothing new.

1. Cr*p cycling infrastructure.
2. Confusion as to what the road markings mean.
3. Poor advice from the authorities as to the law and cycling matters.
4. Some poor bugger trying to do their best [The shop owner in this case] catching it in the neck.
and 5. No protection of a cycle lane.

I know the Dutch and the Danes, etc didn't get their infrastructure overnight, but they didn't have a blueprint. What's our excuse?

posted by levermonkey [356 posts]
21st January 2014 - 7:55

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http://goo.gl/maps/wOjHW

No, probably no winners here. But, some thoughts arise.

There's a maximum of 3 spaces outside there, assuming that the double yellows have been replicated. You can reduce that further if you accept that you shouldn't be parking within a few feet of the corner and the lowered exit. So it doesn't seem that there's all that much space available out the front. Less than on the "limited off road parking" or the side street anyway.......................

posted by bendertherobot [264 posts]
21st January 2014 - 8:24

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Quote:
how is blocking a cycle lane with a car not considered causing an obstruction...

If the road is quiet enough that a cyclist can always safely move out of the lane and ride round a parked car, it's not really causing an obstruction.

But if that's true, the lane is pretty pointless.

posted by armb [26 posts]
21st January 2014 - 10:40

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Horrid cycling up that way, the bentleys and the likes doing 60 on country roads...

Leodis's picture

posted by Leodis [188 posts]
21st January 2014 - 15:40

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It's probably unfair to be too critical of the business.

The wider issue is that Harrogate is hosting the finish of Stage 1 of the Tour de France. Harrogate BC have made statements in official council reports that a cycling legacy is fundamental to the hosting of the Tour. However, it seems that they do not understand cycling very well (and nor do North Yorks CC, who have responsibility for highways).

Harrogate is a town where there could be masses more utility cycling. It's a manageable size, and loads of people live within a short cycle ride of the town centre. At the moment, the infrastructure is not there, and it's incredibly car-dominated, and unfriendly to cyclists.

I don't know if the council mean what they say about a cycling legacy. I don't even know if they know what they mean. I would like to see them held to their word, though. They should consult with people who do know what they are talking about, and put some serious investment into making it a bike-friendly town.

posted by HarrogateSpa [87 posts]
21st January 2014 - 21:23

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PCSO doesn't know their arse from their elbow. What a surprise.

posted by paulfg42 [374 posts]
22nd January 2014 - 0:08

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Snooty Frox wrote:
Our customers, in the main, travel by car from all areas of the country ...

If that's true, then a brief walk from an off-site parking space should be refreshing. If it isn't true, then why aren't these fashionistas arriving on bikes?

Dave K

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posted by Dave Krentz [11 posts]
22nd January 2014 - 4:41

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Seems the shop has been fair in asking what the regs are, its more of a concern that the North Yorks Police gave ambiguos advice..... July 2014 is approaching - wonder if they'll know who can park where by then ???? Confused

posted by jash [7 posts]
22nd January 2014 - 10:03

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stumps wrote:
medical emergency and thats it as far as i'm concerned, nothing else washes with me.
I agree completely, however most motorists would consider needing to dash into a shop reason enough.

In this specific case though I do wonder if proper consultation was given to the impact on the business - I don't know the area but from the sounds of it it's a shop in a residential area and therefore parking for them is quite important. I'd like to favour the cycle lane in most cases, but could this just have been the council spending up budget and filling a cycle lane quota (does one exist)?

posted by kitsunegari [19 posts]
22nd January 2014 - 10:09

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Problem here is with the law and the police, not the shop.
1. Art 140 is rubbish. Almost as if written to include a grey area to allow drivers to do whatever they please.
2. Stated grey area obviously confuses the police as much as everyone else.

However, the shop, asked for, got official guidance. When that was corrected, responded correctly - no issue whatsoever with their actions.

Bottom line, if you can't get a decent steer from the police, how can we possibly criticise the shop owner, who did exactly the right thing.

My thoughts though - if I'd driven the length of the country to buy clothes in Harrogate, I'd:
a) Be nuts
b) Be grateful to get out my car and stretch my legs for a bit.

Not so much a six pack as a barrel!

posted by Bigfoz [62 posts]
22nd January 2014 - 10:32

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"it was not an offence as long as we were not causing an obstruction."

I sat in court in the mid 1980s to see a mate get found guilty of obstructing the highway for standing with his back against a shop front with a 15 foot pavement between him and the road. Obstruction is obstruction ... and parking in a cycle lane MUST be obstruction as soon as anyone cycles along it surely?

didds

posted by didds [41 posts]
22nd January 2014 - 11:19

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If the road is quiet enough that a cyclist can always safely move out of the lane and ride round a parked car, it's not really causing an obstruction.

that was not a defence in 1985 to a charge of obstructing the highway, when standing with a back to shopfront with 15 feet of pavement to use in front of that.

didds

posted by didds [41 posts]
22nd January 2014 - 12:00

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Too many fuzzy rules with these things. I challenged a driver a little while ago when she swerved to the wrong side of the road to park on double yellow lines, nearly hitting me in the process. She claimed that it was OK for her to stop on double yellows as she was 'unloading'. What, I hear you cry was she 'unloading'? A grand piano perhaps? A double bed? Large television? No, she was dropping off her kid, an act that she considered to be 'unloading'. I should add that this took place withing two minutes walking distance (even with a small child) of a free car park.

The fact is, her argument would probably have held up if she had been challenged by the police as the rules are so ambiguous. Incidently, almost taking me out was also OK because 'I seen yooze'

posted by Matt eaton [395 posts]
22nd January 2014 - 12:13

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deblemund wrote:
140
Cycle lanes. These are shown by road markings and signs. You MUST NOT drive or park in a cycle lane marked by a solid white line during its times of operation. Do not drive or park in a cycle lane marked by a broken white line unless it is unavoidable. You MUST NOT park in any cycle lane whilst waiting restrictions apply.
Law RTRA sects 5 & 8

But in the introduction to the Highway Code it says
"Many of the rules in The Highway Code are legal requirements, ... Such rules are identified by the use of the words ‘MUST/MUST NOT’.
"failure to comply with the other rules of The Highway Code will not, in itself, cause a person to be prosecuted".

So the sentence about broken a white lines is not law.

(Rule 66 says: "You should ... never ride more than two abreast, and ride in single file on narrow or busy roads and when riding round bends" - so that isn't law either.)

posted by John Pitcock [3 posts]
22nd January 2014 - 15:45

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deblemund wrote:

140
Cycle lanes. These are shown by road markings and signs. You MUST NOT drive or park in a cycle lane marked by a solid white line during its times of operation. Do not drive or park in a cycle lane marked by a broken white line unless it is unavoidable. You MUST NOT park in any cycle lane whilst waiting restrictions apply.
Law RTRA sects 5 & 8

My problem with that is the "during its time of operation" clause.

I can think of two mandatory cycle lanes I know well. On one of them there is a car that is _always_ parked in it, whenever I go past, in the same spot outside a shop (and sometimes its joined by up to half a dozen others), and on the other I regularly see drivers stop in it to pop into the supermarket next to it, and nearly police officers do nothing at all about it.

But are these guys breaking the law? How can I tell, as there's no indication anywhere as to what the "hours of operation" actually are.

posted by FluffyKittenofT... [657 posts]
22nd January 2014 - 15:52

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No stipulated hours of operation should be treated as 'always applies' I would assume?

posted by jash [7 posts]
23rd January 2014 - 15:18

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