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“Is there anything that can’t be blamed on cyclists?” Baby hospitalised after motorist crashes into bike hangar – and locals blame the hangar

The storage unit has been removed following last week’s collision, with a parked lorry taking its place

An eleven-month-old baby was hospitalised last week after a driver collided with a roadside cycle hangar – and a local residents’ group has blamed the crash on the destroyed storage unit.

The collision, which we featured on last week’s live blog, saw a motorist drive straight into the back of the green bike container located on Grove Lane in the Denmark Hill area of London, in what the Southwark News reports was the second time a motorist has collided with the unit in just over three months.

Following the crash, which took place at around 2.30pm on 6 March, a woman and an eleven-month-old baby were taken to hospital. No arrests were made and the baby is believed to be fine, though neighbours have told the local newspaper that the child’s mother is “beyond distraught”.

A similar collision, which saw a driver knock the hangar sideways onto the pavement, occurred on the evening of 2 December 2022. No one was hurt.

The hangar has been removed since last week’s collision, with one local cyclist noting on Twitter that, yesterday evening at least, the space it formerly occupied was being taken up by a parked lorry.

While the two collisions may raise concerns about the standard of driving in the area (considering the unit was placed in a car parking space), a local residents’ group has argued this week that the hangar was “dangerously” positioned and have criticised the council for not acting sooner to prevent motorists from colliding with it.

According to the Southwark News, the local council was warned about the hangar’s placement by the Grove Lane Area Residents’ Association (GLARA) soon after it was installed in October 2021.

In that meeting, the group expressed concerns about the sight lines along Grove Lane for pedestrians, cyclists, and drivers, with Southwark Council’s cabinet member for leisure, parks, streets, and clean air, Catherine Rose, promising to review aspects of the road layout, including the hangar’s placement.

However, until last week’s collision, the unit had been kept in its initial position, with the original container replaced after it was destroyed in December.

> Council "investigating" after driver outrage at cycle hangar "deliberately" blocking car parking spaces

The complaints about the hangar have also coincided with concerns from some residents that Grove Lane has become “more dangerous” in recent years thanks to the introduction of low traffic neighbourhoods and restrictions in nearby areas.

Anti-LTN activists say these schemes have displaced more traffic onto main roads such as Grove Lane – though analysis carried out by Southwark Council has shown that traffic on the road has fallen by 12.7 percent compared to pre-Covid levels.

Following last week’s crash, a spokesperson for the Grove Lane Area Residents’ Association pointed to the increased traffic on the road in a statement which claimed that incidents involving the bike hangar were “foreseeable”.

“We as residents are ready and willing to work with the council to make improvements to Grove Lane and we want to see the council honour its manifesto commitments to reduce traffic on main roads – because this was foreseeable given it was the second accident on Grove Lane involving the bike hangar in the last three months,” the spokesperson said.

> Hove woman persuades council not to locate “unattractive” cycle hangar outside her home 

The placement of cycle hangars – a growing presence in British cities thanks to the demand for safe and secure bike parking – has become something of a constant talking point in recent months.

In Brighton and Hove, where the council is planning to introduce the units across the city, the hangars have proven a somewhat surprising and enduring source of contention in the south coast city.

With 150 hangars expected to be rolled out across Brighton and Hove in the next few months, and a waiting list stretching into the hundreds, they have proven hugely popular with many residents looking for somewhere to securely store their bikes. However, the units have also attracted the ire of some locals who claim that they are an eyesore and take up too much space, despite the hangars being able to fit in a space usually reserved for one car.

Cycle hangar in Norfolk Square, Brighton (credit - Laura King, Facebook)

[credit: Laura King]

In November, a new cycle hangar in Norfolk Square, one of 60 already installed in the city since July 2022, was met with outrage after residents pointed out that it was hanging over two permit car parking spaces, prompting the council to investigate the hangar’s positioning.

Later that month, a Hove woman successfully persuaded the council not to put one of the new hangars outside her home because it was “unattractive” – leading one councillor to observe that people opposed to them do not seem to have a problem with “Range Rovers that are half parked on the pavement”.

> Residents “threatened with police” after “surrounding” contractors installing bike hangar

And in January, things became even more heated when the council was accused of misleading the public after it claimed that a group of “unhappy” residents “surrounded” contractors tasked with installing one of the new hangars.

According to the council, staff from parking enforcement contractors NSL were in the process of implementing a parking suspension, in preparation for the installation of a second bike hangar on Cissbury Road, Hove, when they were “surrounded by a lot of unhappy residents”.

However, a Cissbury Road resident criticised the council’s account, branding it “misleading”, and claimed that he “had barely gotten a word out before I was threatened with the police”.

But, even in Brighton and Hove it seems, the hangars have yet to be blamed for the inattentiveness and carelessness of motorists driving into them (as far as we can tell).

As one cyclist noted on Twitter this week, “is there anything that can’t be blamed on cycling infrastructure and cyclists?”

Ryan joined as a news writer in December 2021. He has written about cycling and some ball-centric sports for various websites, newspapers, magazines and radio. Before returning to writing about cycling full-time, he completed a PhD in History and published a book and numerous academic articles on religion and politics in Victorian Britain and Ireland (though he remained committed to boring his university colleagues and students with endless cycling trivia). He can be found riding his bike very slowly through the Dromara Hills of Co. Down.

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