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“The road is yours only if you own a car?”: Cyclist couple challenge council after being asked to remove DIY bike parking space from outside home

The cyclists pointed out that if it was a car they could “leave it without ever moving it”, however Bristol City Council is threatening enforcement despite positive reactions from neighbours

A couple who decided to make a small DIY parking space for their cargo bike outside their home in Bristol have been asked by the council to either remove it themselves or have it removed by the council. The couple have lodged a complaint against Bristol City Council, pointing out that other residents parks their cars in front of homes too.

Anna and Mark Cordle recently gave up their car and switched to riding a cargo bike. Since they couldn’t store it inside their home, they said that they had no option but to store it where they used to park their car — on the road outside their home.

So, they placed two large green containers filled with soil and plants, which was heavy enough to be able to secure their bike to, and sturdy enough to withstand any bumps from nearby parked cars.

Before doing this, they had asked people in their street and two neighbouring streets to see if anyone minded. They said said there was unanimous backing, and they had even consulted with one of their local councillors.

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

However, Bristol Live reports that the council has sent the couple a letter informing them that enforcement action would be taken against them if they don’t remove the heavy planters from their road in Redfield.

The letter read: “Your placing of the planters on the highway is in breach of Section 149 of the Highways Act. Please remove the planters urgently and ensure that they are not replaced on the highway at any time. You may also wish to consider that if any person has an accident has a result of your planters being on the highway, it will be you who will be liable for meeting any compensation claim.”

The letter then added that the council had the power to remove the planters if the Cordles didn’t.

However, the couple have said that they are not going to remove the planters, and in return have lodged a formal complaint against the council.

> “A flagrant act of vandalism”: Council agrees to move “ugly” bike rack after churchgoers say it will “block access for hearses”

Anna Cordle said: “We explored all the options for how we could store it securely - but we live in a terrace, with no front garden to speak of. The only option for us was to park the bike - our car replacement - where we used to park the car, on the road.

“For security and insurance, we needed to get something heavy and secure to lock it to, so we placed bike planters in the road to lock the bike to.”

She added: “We sought out ways we could seek permission for what we were doing - but there were none. We consulted with our neighbours, those who would have most claim to be affected, and received a positive response, so went ahead. It has been transformative to our ability to get around without adding to Bristol’s poor air quality and carbon emissions.”

“After more than a year of them being in the road with nothing but positive responses, the council are now siding with anonymous complaints that the planters are an obstruction/danger on the highway and have sent us a letter telling us to remove them and threatening further enforcement action.

“Without them, we would have no way of storing our cargo bike without causing far greater obstruction to the pavement (locking it to lampposts or in front of our house). We would probably need to get a car,” she added.

The Cordles mentioned that their situation highlights how the law, and the council’s interpretation of it, favours car ownership over people who cycle.

Mark Cordle said: “We are saying no, we will not remove them. They do not obstruct free passage on the highway, and we deny that they are any more a danger than other street infrastructure. We want them to stay.

“Our street wants them to stay. It’s better for all of the council’s objectives, for all of Bristol's residents, for the climate and for air quality, that it stays.”

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The couple have submitted a formal complaint against the council in a bid to try to get the issue looked at in more detail, and they acknowledge that they do not own that space and can’t commandeer it for their sole use.

“We don’t like the disparity of it, and wish our neighbours could also reliably park near their homes,” said Anna Cordle. “But it is the council’s role, not ours, to facilitate that.”

She continued: “We of course don’t claim to own the road, and would be very content with council-provided infrastructure on the street - but that is not coming any time soon. It wouldn’t have to be outside our house, but it wouldn’t have made sense for us to put it in front of somebody else’s house on the street.

“Nobody owns the road, but also everybody does - not just car users. Saying cargo bike parking infrastructure needs to be dismantled to provide another space for a car to park would be telling us we can’t share this public asset if we don’t own a car.”

The reaction on social media has been divided, with cyclists questioning the legality of such an action, but some also wondering if this calls for a change in the outlook of how we perceive and use roads.

Meanwhile, Bristol Cycling wrote: “The failure to provide any infrastructure for storing bikes in this city should be a cause of major embarrassment - why emphasise it? This council has decided not to develop any processes for storing anything other than a car.”

What do you think? Are DIY cargo bike parking spaces safe and if yes, should they be legal? If not, what are the alternatives?

Adwitiya joined road.cc in 2023 as a news writer after graduating with a masters in journalism from Cardiff University. His dissertation focused on active travel, which soon threw him into the deep end of covering everything related to the two-wheeled tool, and now cycling is as big a part of his life as guitars and football. He has previously covered local and national politics for Voice Wales, and also likes to writes about science, tech and the environment, if he can find the time. Living right next to the Taff trail in the Welsh capital, you can find him trying to tackle the brutal climbs in the valleys.

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81 comments

Avatar
Tom_77 | 7 months ago
3 likes

You'd think the council could chuck in a few Sheffield stands, problem solved.

If they can do it in Kensington and Chelsea they can do it anywhere.

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Hemp Bikes | 7 months ago
0 likes

If the Council rules against them they will have to buy a van, leave it permenantly parked, and park their cargo bike in the van. Except then they'd have to pay registration & insurance of the van so, a trailer might be better.

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JMcL_Ireland | 7 months ago
2 likes

To be fair to to the council, they are doing exactly what they should - enforcing the laws that are in place. I have some sympathy for the people concerned as I'm in exactly the same boat - mid terrace house with no rear access (it's not mentioned whether they have a rear alley with access to a garden/yard). So for me large cargo bikes are out - much as I'd like one - as I'd have to leave them in the street as I can't put them in the house or their them through. Also whenever we have to bite the bullet and replace the car with an EV we're at a disadvantage to those with driveways as we can't install a charger so can't avail of solar or night rate for charging. I'd estimate we get parking outside the door about 1/3 of the time.
So no, they have no right to stick planters out in the *public* road for the reasons the council lays out, but on the other hand solutions do need to be found for this and other things which are squarely in the lap of the councils

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wtjs replied to JMcL_Ireland | 7 months ago
3 likes

the council, they are doing exactly what they should - enforcing the laws that are in place

Amazing, radical idea. You should suggest it to the police, as they haven't thought of it.

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Lycra Lout replied to JMcL_Ireland | 7 months ago
1 like

They could choose just not to enforce it actually. That's what the police do against dangerous drivers.

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wtjs replied to Lycra Lout | 7 months ago
2 likes

They could choose just not to enforce it actually. That's what the police do against dangerous drivers

Unfair to the police! In accordance with its Equality and Diversity aims, Lancashire Constabulary does not only favour dangerous drivers, but also those drivers who, through no fault of their own, have forgotten MOT, insurance and VED for 3 1/2 years

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grOg | 7 months ago
0 likes

The fact that these people thought they could get away with putting those things in a public roadway is astonishing, but to think they have the right to do so and lodge a formal complaint, is unbelievable!

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Zjtm231 replied to grOg | 7 months ago
2 likes

You are more unbelievable

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luisgutz | 7 months ago
1 like

They should buy an old heavy car, park it there and lock the bike to the car.

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wtjs | 7 months ago
8 likes

There are three (our three principal weapons are...no, four principal weapons) notable features of this topic:

The predictable gibberish of the usual badly retreaded PBUs

Hysterical outbursts by the largely Tory, car-worshipping, climate-change denying nutters

The principle that you can't 'bagsy' permanent spaces on the public road outside your house, or anywhere else.

Avatar
perce replied to wtjs | 7 months ago
3 likes

Try telling my neighbours opposite that - three cars parked on the road outside their house every day plus one on the drive in front of their garage turned into a utility room. 

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brooksby replied to perce | 7 months ago
3 likes

I see your neighbours and raise you: my neighbours have a huge double length garage full of "stuff", a campervan and an American pickup which sit on their drive pretty much all year round (each vehicle gets moved about once a year), while their three 'normal' cars are parked out on the road.  And I understand that they may have another van parked in a nearby lock-up.

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perce replied to brooksby | 7 months ago
2 likes

Why does anyone need that many cars? The neighbour next to them also has three cars and a converted garage, so two cars parked on the road. Up until recently he had two BMW's, a black one (which also gets moved once a year) and a white one, both with the same vanity plate. Don't know how that can be legal but what do I know? 

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wtjs replied to perce | 7 months ago
1 like

Try telling my neighbours opposite that - three cars parked on the road outside their house every day plus one on the drive in front of their garage turned into a utility room

The point is that you can't place planters in the road, or other obstructions, to try to keep others out. Other people entitled to park in the vicinity, such as a nearby neighbour, can park there, if they ever find an unoccupied space. People like you describe will probably try to intimidate an intruder, threaten violence or criminal damage etc., but they can't do that legally.

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perce replied to wtjs | 7 months ago
2 likes

I take your point. My neighbours would do anything they could to stop anyone using ''their'' space (which extends beyond their own property by the way) They haven't resorted to putting obstructions in the road yet but I think it's only a matter of time. I don't know how anyone can be so entitled

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wtjs replied to perce | 7 months ago
5 likes

I don't know how anyone can be so entitled

I do- they're Tory readers of the hyper-junk press who admire so-called members of the human-race like Clarkson

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Flintshire Boy replied to wtjs | 7 months ago
1 like

.

Jeez, go and foam in Garstang Aldi, will ya.

.

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Hirsute replied to Flintshire Boy | 7 months ago
4 likes

Are you not liking someone having a different opinion to yourself?

I'm sure a infrequent poster wrote something about that today.

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Roulereo | 7 months ago
0 likes

Klaus Schwab is very happy and thankful for your activism and support. 

 

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perce replied to Roulereo | 7 months ago
5 likes

Ah good old Klaus. He used to sell us cider from the back of his tractor at Glastonbury in the seventies. Is he still riding a bike?

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brooksby replied to Roulereo | 7 months ago
4 likes
Roulereo wrote:

Klaus Schwab is very happy and thankful for your activism and support. 

Google says that Klaus Martin Schwab is a German engineer, economist and founder of the World Economic Forum.

Does he ride a bike?

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chrisonabike replied to brooksby | 7 months ago
3 likes

Not that one!  No, I think they mean that old guy who used to come out and shout at drivers when they did a U-turn in his drive or tried to park in "his" space?

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AlsoSomniloquism replied to brooksby | 7 months ago
4 likes

Probably rides one more then Roulero does. 

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cmedred | 7 months ago
2 likes

Just buy an old clunker of a van, park it there and use it to store the bike inside out of the weather and locked up. https://www.autotrader.co.uk/van-details/202307099450261?sort=relevance&...

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AlsoSomniloquism replied to cmedred | 7 months ago
4 likes

£875 + Tax + MOT + Insurance if it wants to stay in that spot. Not every Police is as bad as Lancashire and you need all three to leave it on a public highway. If on a private drive then no extra costs, although if it is too much of an eyesore, the council could still get involved.

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brooksby | 7 months ago
6 likes

Example of Bristolian politicking around transport:

https://www.bristol247.com/news-and-features/news/hundreds-join-anti-liv...

Quote:

Cries of “take back democracy”, “free our streets” and “the government is corrupt” could be heard from the crowd as panellists took turns to express their objections to Bristol City Council’s first liveable neighbourhood trial in east Bristol.

The meeting was organised by members of Bristol Somali Community Association, Barton Hill Activity Club, and Keep Bristol Moving – the latest addition to a growing vocal campaign against the trial.

...

They were also joined by anti-LTN organisation, Together Declaration, who had offered to broadcast the meeting to a national audience and handed out anti-ULEZ placards to every attendee there.

“We are here tonight and around the country to say we are not going to have this anymore,” said [Alan Miller, head of Together Declaration].

“We don’t want shutdowns, we don’t want road closures, we don’t want to be told we are stupid.

“We’re fighting back what they are doing nationally with liveable streets, active travel and a national cyclist activist campaign.”

“They think they can keep imposing these cameras, fines and charges, and we are just going to roll over.”

“We have never agreed to give up our rights to mobility, and our rights to freedoms,” he said.

“We are not going back to feudal times. “We need to get organised. This is the beginning of something.”

An LTN is equivalent to going back to feudal times?  Seriously? 

Avatar
chrisonabike replied to brooksby | 7 months ago
3 likes
brooksby wrote:

Example of Bristolian politicking around transport:

...

An LTN is equivalent to going back to feudal times?  Seriously? 

Seems reasonable comparison.  I mean in feudal times the peasants had to stay put and pay their tithes to the local knight (on his warcharger) and woe betide you if you wandered over someone else's land.

Under the LTN / ULEZ "regime" you can't take some cut-throughs, and you pay the local council a small fraction of your regular motoring tithe to pass through certain areas.  But you can go anywhere you want, whenever you want (in your w... car) just like the local aldermen.

Actually... what's the problem again?

Yeah, I don't really get it.  Is it just the "thin end of the wedge" / "if they even consider interfering with something that's such an important part of our lives their end game must be to remove it and enslave us"?  Is this the result of some motor industry social "black ops" akin to the invention of "jaywalking"?

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hawkinspeter replied to brooksby | 7 months ago
1 like

Well, I for one am looking forward to our Liverpool Neighbourhood. The questionnaires went out ages ago, so I'm wondering why they've waited this long to start protesting. Obviously the only thing that it's going to infringe is the ability to rat-run through certain areas, though it remains to be seen how the traffic is affected. In my area, the traffic is going to be forced to use the A420, Church Rd, instead of the parallel residential streets. That could be interesting as Church Rd gets congested as it's only a single lane each way and is the main connecting road between the centre and east Bristol.

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chrisonabike replied to hawkinspeter | 7 months ago
4 likes
hawkinspeter wrote:

Well, I for one am looking forward to our Liverpool Neighbourhood.

When you put it like that I can understand the outrage.  I'd be hopping mad if to get from say Knowle West to Clifton I'd have to go via Bootle.

Avatar
momove replied to chrisonabike | 7 months ago
1 like

Don't be silly.

They just make you listen to the Beatles while you're in the neighborhood.

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