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.
Born in Scotland, Simon moved to London aged seven and now lives in the Oxfordshire Cotswolds with his miniature schnauzer, Elodie. He fell in love with cycling one Saturday morning in 1994 while living in Italy when Milan-San Remo went past his front door. A daily cycle commuter in London back before riding to work started to boom, he's been news editor at road.cc since 2009. Handily for work, he speaks French and Italian. He doesn't get to ride his Colnago as often as he'd like, and freely admits he's much more adept at cooking than fettling with bikes.