Highways officials refuse to perform U-turn after “too modern” bike rack creates outcry in Market Deeping
The rack, in the shape of a big, green car, was installed last week by Lincolnshire County Council highways staff as part of a government-funded initiative to encourage more people to travel about town by bike and on foot, improving congestion and pollution levels while getting fitter to fight off Covid-19.
The £100,000-plus funding for the council from the Department for Transport Active Travel Fund also enabled the authority to pedestrianise some areas of the county’s town centres to enable customers to safely social distance and support local shops and restaurants.
Cycling and walking network plans are being put together for each town which will act as a roadmap on developing the cycling network further in that area.
Coun Richard Davies, executive member for highways at Lincolnshire County Council, said: “These measures are initially temporary for a year, but we’ll be keeping an eye on how well used they are, and they could be made permanent.”
New cycling storage was to be installed in Boston, Gainsborough, Grantham, Holbeach, Skegness, Sleaford and Spalding. However after complaints by County Councillor Nick Worth, the racks in Holbeach were removed and have appeared in Market Deeping instead.
The county has applied for a second, bigger tranche of funding worth over £800,000 for more ambitious projects on Lincolnshire roads.
The new rack in the parking layby outside Linfords fish and chip shop came in for initial praise from Market Deeping Town Councillor Adam Brookes who tweeted his delight: “I do just hope it will last longer than the one in Holbeach apparently has. Maybe there are specific local issues there but removing things the second anyone complains is not going to make for the best trial. These things take time and the initial reaction may not be accurate.”
Fellow town councillor Chris Davis disagreed and expressed his disappointment to local county councillor Rosemary Trollope-Bellew.
He said: “It does not look smart in a heritage village. As a member of MDTC we were actively encouraging more bike storage provision, but had clearly stated to you not to place that style in Deeping.”
Coun Davis said the county council had sent over other sample designs to the Town Council which had only considered them the previous evening.
His feelings were echoed by other residents via local Facebook pages who felt it was not in keeping with the area and unnecessarily taking up a parking space. They questioned the spending without consultation when there were under-used bike racks directly opposite, although there were some supporters of the concept of encouraging more cycling for a cleaner, safer environment.
One resident said: “Nothing wrong with the concept and encouraging cycling but surely there must be a more appropriate design in keeping with our lovely Deeping?”
Another said: “It’s dreadful. No problem with the council increasing cycle parking, but it doesn’t need to be at the expense of a car parking space, which are already in such short supply in the town centre. Additional cycle spaces could have been added very easily to the existing cycle parking, or in an area on the pavement where it would not obstruct pedestrians.”
Another resident countered: “No worse than having to look at parked cars everywhere because people can’t be bothered to walk or cycle into the centre. A positive step towards a cleaner and safer environment.”
Coun Trollope-Bellew swiftly responded saying: “I have been in contact with LCC highways regarding the rack.
“I think that it needs to blend in with the surrounding and this I feel does not, rather too modern for the market place and in the wrong place.
“I have asked that this be removed and other sites and types of rack be looked at and that the Town Council be consulted before any more are installed.”
She liked Coun Davis’ idea of relocating it to the industrial area.
However, highways officials have no intention of removing the rack yet.
County Councillor Richard Davies said: “When we were awarded the funding, the DfT gave us very short timescales to install the changes, and there just wasn’t time to get feedback from every community about each location. The changes are all on a trial basis – if they work they’ll stay and if they don’t we can rethink. But for a fair trial it should be in place longer than a couple of days.
“I understand there are concerns about the shape of the new bike parking, but we’ve also had a fair amount of positive feedback for bringing the extra facility into the town. It would be remiss of us just to remove it again so soon – especially as we’ve already seen the new rack in Market Deeping being used by visitors to the town centre.
“These types of cycling parking have been used elsewhere, including in Lincolnshire, without issue. But if there’s still concern about the shape of the bike rack in a few months, we can look again at moving it elsewhere.”
Town Councillor Adam Brookes added: “It’s great to see how many people care about the appearance of our town centre. I certainly do too. But there has to be a balance struck.
“Do the cars that constantly decorate our town centre fit in with the historic buildings?
“Clearly the town centre needs to evolve, as the rest of the world does.
“The colour was a bit of a shock to me. This is though one of the manufacturer’s standard colours. I wonder about the possibility of repainting it. Perhaps in ‘Linford’s green’ or the black/gold style of most of the street furniture. Although after the initial shock, the colour is growing on me.”