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Bad advice from PCSO

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.”

Our official grumpy Northerner, John has been riding bikes for over 30 years since discovering as an uncoordinated teen that a sport could be fun if it didn't require you to catch a ball or get in the way of a hulking prop forward.

Road touring was followed by mountain biking and a career racing in the mud that was as brief as it was unsuccessful.

Somewhere along the line came the discovery that he could string a few words together, followed by the even more remarkable discovery that people were mug enough to pay for this rather than expecting him to do an honest day's work. He's pretty certain he's worked for even more bike publications than Mat Brett.

The inevitable 30-something MAMIL transition saw him shift to skinny tyres and these days he lives in Cambridge where the lack of hills is more than made up for by the headwinds.