Welcome to Marlborough Country - but don't expect to park your bike on the High Street

"Cyclists are very active people,” says councillor. "I can’t see a problem with them walking from one end of the High Street to the other."

by Simon_MacMichael   May 29, 2013  

Marlborough High Street (Google Street View)

A town councillor in Wiltshire has said that since cyclists are “very active people,” they shouldn’t mind having to walk from one end to the other of Marlborough High Street as he vetoed plans for cycle parking. Another has warned of the 'danger' motorists would face if cyclists were allowed to lock up their bikes at the site of proposed bike racks that would take the place of two car parking spaces in the Wiltshire town.

The comments were made during what sounds like a heated meeting of Marlborough Town Council – its first since the local elections earlier this month – in which councillors voted by eight to four to defer a decision to agree to locations of cycle parking proposed by Marlborough Transition.

The cycle parking would form part of a £400,000 project by Wiltshire Council to resurface the high street later this year, reports Marlborough News Online, which adds that the county council has already agreed to the removal of the two car parking spaces which are free to use for half an hour.

The council meeting was presented with a detailed report regarding the proposals from Wiltshire Council, and also heard from Ann Yates of Transition Marlborough, who outlined why the specific locations for the cycle parking, which will take the place of two car parking spaces, had been chosen.

“These sites are highly visible and convenient for the Post Office and for WH Smiths,” she explained. 

The parking spaces to be removed are outside Valentino’s and, on the other side of the High Street, The Polly Tea Rooms, and she added: “I have been to see the managers of these businesses and they have no reservations about the siting of cycle racks outside their shops and positively endorse their installation.”

However, one of the opponents of the proposals, Councillor Margaret Rose, was reported by Marlborough News Online that she feared that cyclists backing out of the cycle parking locations would pose a danger to motorists.

Another opponent, Conservative Councillor Stewart Dobson, said: “It is so important, especially in these present financial times, that we do all we can for residents.

“There are an awful lot of people who are not disabled enough to qualify for a parking badge and therefore a disabled space, but nevertheless they are not terrible mobile.

“They do need to pop to the Post Office and to Boots for a prescription.  So I would be loathe against taking away two parking spaces.  But those two spaces are important.  They are always being used.

“There is never an empty space there.  And quite frankly we can’t afford to lose any more. We can’t inflict this on our traders.
“Cyclists by and large are very active people,” he continued.

“So I can’t see a problem with them walking from one end of the High Street to the other whereas we would be penalising people who are far from active.

“I would hope we can find a compromise, and that ought to be that the existing ones are adequate for the job and we look to see how it goes from there.”

The picture above, taken from Google Street View, suggests that Marlborough isn’t short of car-parking spaces and that the slot outside The Polly Tea Rooms isn’t just occupied by people needing access to the shops, but also workmen’s vans.

One of the council’s newly elected members, Councillor Lisa Farrell, who commutes by bike to her work at Marlborough College, told the meeting: “Can’t we try this? It’s not going to cost us anything.  Let’s give it a go and see if it works.

“I know what it’s like with a bike because I ride one everywhere.  Let’s just give it a go, please.”

Councillor Andrew Ross backed her stance, saying: “I think it would be a tragedy to let this opportunity slip away by our reactionary views.

“We are trying to encourage cycling among young people and we need to provide them with the correct facilities. This is just the sort of thing we need to be doing in the town.  We must seen to be doing the correct things.”

Councillor Alexander Kirk Wilson added: “You are saying that ratepayers in the town don’t get anything except free parking.  There are lots of hard done by ratepayers with push bikes who have nowhere to lock them away.”

Despite their support for the proposals, however, the council voted to refer the matter back to Wiltshire Council, saying that while in principle it was in favour of suitable facilities for cyclists, it wanted the Marlborough area board to reconsider the plans with a focus on improving existing cycle parking and signs.

21 user comments

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I cycled through there last summer and stopped for refreshment, had to place our bicycles beside us on the pavement, far more potential danger there than using a bike rack. There seemed to be an awful lot of far from disabled people parking vanity 4x4s in the available spaces, maybe they should voluntarily stop using a couple of spots?

posted by Gashead [30 posts]
29th May 2013 - 16:58


I have lived here, in the past. The biggest danger on that high street is the motorist (and I was one!), it is very busy, surprisingly cramped and you never get a parking space near the shop you are aiming at anyway.
Fortunately, most motorists are also able to walk from one end to the other - even with shopping.

Incidentally - does anyone reverse out of a bike park into the road? I've been casting my mind back but I don't think I have ever seen this.

posted by Dr Max [10 posts]
29th May 2013 - 18:25


The concept of encouraging use of cycles to reduce car use and therefore reduce parking space requirements may have been lost on the curtain twitchers. Ya reckon?

As for DANGER! Cyclists Reversing!, I heartily agree. An unsuspecting Land Rover could be crushed under the weight of a pannier in seconds.



aslongasicycle's picture

posted by aslongasicycle [325 posts]
29th May 2013 - 19:00


Now I can see where Ben Elton gets material from for his comedy 'The Wright Way'.


antonio's picture

posted by antonio [986 posts]
29th May 2013 - 19:13


As a regular cyclist (and occasional car driver) to Marlborough the High Street does need some decent cycle parking facilities, and the location described makes sense.

It is laughable that some local councillors regard the cyclists as the 'hazard'. The High Street is basically a massive car park with eratic car drivers cruising up and down desperate for a free space, often making sudden left or right hand turns once the space of their dreams becomes available.

Any cyclist going through Marlborough has to be extremely vigilant to avoid being pranged by a 4x4 or Audi.

Ironically Marlborough has a large amount of car parking space available within short and easy walking distance to the High Street. I never have a problem parking here and then walking the huge 200 yards to the shops.

posted by seanbolton [142 posts]
29th May 2013 - 19:24


The argument that all cyclists are mobile and that all people who are not terribly mobile cannot be cyclists is fundamentally flawed. Elderly people who cannot walk far sometimes cycle (on regular bikes or, increasingly now, on electric-assist models). They may also use mobility tricycles (again, with or without electric-assist functions). Old and infirm cyclists exist, as do disabled cyclists. Even able-bodied cyclists may not always be more mobile than motorists - somebody transporting a baby and a toddler in a bike trailer, for example, will park their bike and then either have an unwieldy buggy to push around or two children in tow. If Marlborough currently does not have any bicycle users with restricted mobility, it probably needs to work on becoming a more welcoming kind of place for cyclists.

posted by bambergbike [87 posts]
29th May 2013 - 19:59


Wdll I've checked sll three bikes in my collection and carried out extensive Internet research but no reverse gear anywhere

posted by crash144019 [47 posts]
29th May 2013 - 20:15


Talk about "Dad's Army" stuff! . . .

So let me get this right . . . bikes are a danger to cars? And car drivers without disabled permits are still disabled? Why the %$#&! are these people in government? Let me guess this is a Tory council? So what we have here is the loony right as opposed to the crackpots on the left with their nuclear free zones and council poets. I'm starting to think the most politically radical position is inn the centre.

Please people use your brains.

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posted by mike_ibcyclist [36 posts]
29th May 2013 - 20:32


Lane 71, this is an open forum that I encourage my 12 year old son to read. If that's the best contribution you can make to the discussion, perhaps you should pause before hitting the save button.

Don't disagree with your sentiment, just the language.

posted by FMOAB [238 posts]
29th May 2013 - 22:00


Hi Laine71 if you're wondering where your comment went - it was deleted because it broke the site T&Cs. If you want to make the same point in a more verbally restrained way - fire away.

Tony Farrelly's picture

posted by Tony Farrelly [4154 posts]
29th May 2013 - 22:16


Surely doing all they can for residents is also providing cycle parking as well as car parking? I've been there a few times by car and can confirm that the space you get is the one that's just been vacated and not the one opposite the shop you want.

They make a lot of having the widest high street in the country, surely there's enough room to park a few bikes?

I find it ridiculous that the councillor's arguments are based on his own views and are not backed up by any shred of evidence!

posted by madhouse [40 posts]
30th May 2013 - 7:22


"Cyclists are very active people" apart from the ones with a disability and mobility issues, whose primary mode of transport is a recumbent trike.

posted by tradescant [14 posts]
30th May 2013 - 7:53


So now cyclists not only don't pay "road tax" they don't pay "council tax" either. It must be all those dystopian future films that people see that show the world ravaged by gangs of bicycle riding marauders that give the idea that we all somehow live off th grid and contribute nothing to our society.

Motorists in danger from reversing cyclists. You couldn't make it up.

bikeandy61's picture

posted by bikeandy61 [396 posts]
30th May 2013 - 9:46


No points for guessing which party controls the council...

posted by mbthegreat [8 posts]
30th May 2013 - 10:35


"I'm starting to think the most politically radical position is inn the centre."

Yeah...I'll drink to that!!

posted by Hasis [37 posts]
30th May 2013 - 13:18

No points for guessing which party controls the council

Would that be the Monster Swivelled eyed Monster Raving Loony party?

posted by GrahamH [18 posts]
30th May 2013 - 21:09


"He approved the sensible upgrade of parking facilities outside the library and the town hall and suggested if that parking spaces were to be lost they should come from those running down the middle of the High Street."
Quote taken from the Marlborough News website linked in the story.

The suggestion of taking 2 of the pay & display spaces from the centre instead of free short stay ones on the sides is a goodun. Less revenue for the council too. Unless they cotton on to charging bikes...
Cycling brings many visitors to the town especially at the weekends and we all know MAMILs spend a small fortune on cakes and coffee.

posted by BennyHop [6 posts]
30th May 2013 - 22:13


We stopped in Marlborough for a coffee en route from Winchester to Malmesbury, and the cars in the High Street were staggering... They were nose to tail cruising locking for a parking space, and just crossing the broad street to head out meant taking your life in your hands. As for parking, if you're out on a ride, you're not going to leave a bunch of race bikes at the other end of town... At best you're going to want to lock them nearby or do as we did and prop them up outside the coffee shop.
Mind you on the way out we had to cycle past Marlborough rugby club as they were kicking out the Sunday morning geoups, and that was absolute gridlock... You couldn't even weave a bike through the jam as the esate cars and SUVs all assumed that they had right of way over everyone else.
On the whole Marlborough wasn't a great place for anyone... Car drivers, cyclists, pedestrians.

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posted by Mombee [56 posts]
31st May 2013 - 10:49


Quote "Councillor Margaret Rose, was reported by Marlborough News Online that she feared that cyclists backing out of the cycle parking locations would pose a danger to motorists".

What about all the cars parked up the middle of the street are you really trying to say that none of them reverse out of their spots? Angry


posted by FATBEGGARONABIKE [603 posts]
2nd June 2013 - 13:19


What's amazing about the safety argument is that last year, someone parked their car on one side of the road with the hand brake off - only for it to career across the road and into the front window of the tile shop (the very nice locally made Marlborough tiles) on the other side. Had anyone been walking past at the time it would have been more than a glass window that would have been shattered.

There's a petition online now asking the council to reconsider it's decision - http://www.change.org/en-GB/petitions/wiltshire-council-please-go-ahead-...

posted by Marlborough PoB [2 posts]
3rd June 2013 - 9:52


As an update, new cycle stands went in (though not all those promised):

But they were soon taken out again for the annual MOP fair - heaven forbid anyone would want to cycle into the town for the fair.

Several weeks later, their temporary removal is looking all the more permanent and the wheel bender racks are back Sad

posted by Marlborough PoB [2 posts]
30th October 2013 - 9:49

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