A railway station manager has said that no bikes have been stolen from a nearby carpark, despite concerns raised by cyclists after one of the council’s cycle racks was cut in two by vandals.
Mark Simmons, a manager at Avon Valley Railway, says that all cyclists should continue to lock their bikes using the provided racks at or near Bitton Railway Station’s café, a popular stop for riders using the off-road Bristol and Bath Railway Path, Bristol Live reports.
However, while Simmons insists that using the racks will prevent children from “being knocked over”, cyclists have expressed concerns about leaving their bikes unattended and out of sight after photos emerged online of a bike rack near the station, provided by Sustrans, which appeared to have been sawn through by potential thieves.
While bike thieves have commonly used angle grinders to cut through locks, we reported earlier this year that in London they now appear to be resorting to cutting through entire racks, a practice which seems to have already spread to Bristol and Bath.
One cyclist, Guy Buckland, said that he will no longer risk leaving his bike at the station following the brazen act, which was reported by local cyclists on social media last week.
“The people at Bitton station are lovely and it’s a great place. But you can’t use the café and be able to see your bike,” he said.
“Given how easy bike theft is these days I wouldn’t risk it, especially now one of the racks has been sawn through.”
Speaking to Bristol Live, Avon Valley Railway’s Simmons noted that the cycle rack in question isn’t on the station’s land, but on the main council carpark and managed by active travel charity Sustrans.
“It’s a shame it’s happened and we have no idea how or why it’s happened, I believe it was sawn through,” he said.
However, Simmons says that cyclists should continue to use the racks for safety reasons at the station, and that there have been no reports of thefts.
“What we have found on occasion is that children can get knocked over so what we are asking cyclists to do is put their bikes in [the car park] rack or the set of racks on our property. It helps to avoid any issues with little kids being knocked over,” he said.
“We are conscious that some cyclists have fairly expensive bikes and we always encourage cyclists to bring a bike lock. We are not aware of bikes being stolen from here, it’s more of a fear. We are only here in the daytime.”
The station’s management also pointed out that the layout of the station ensures that it is difficult to make parked bikes more accessible and visible to their owners, but that during daylight hours bikes that are locked to the racks should not be at risk.
A South Gloucestershire Council spokesperson added: “One of our officers will visit and make an assessment on the extent of any damage and see if repairs are required.”
The targeting of a bike rack at Bitton station isn’t the first time that thieves and vandals have negatively affected the Bristol and Bath Railway Path.
Last May, we reported that “a significant number of signs and fencing” had been stolen or destroyed on the cycleway, slowing progress on changes to a two-mile section of the path.
Sustrans, who are leading the redevelopment, said at the time that it was “working with the police” after thefts and vandalism left “no signage in place at two locations, and a lot of damage to be repaired”.
The vandalism resulted in the slowing of construction work and confusion amongst path users, with a section of the route, between Easton Community Centre and Johnsons Lane, being used by cyclists and pedestrians despite officially being closed.
Thefts of signs over the bank holiday weekend in early May meant riders were missing the diversion and encountering a barrier at the Johnsons Lane exit of the path.
Ryan joined road.cc 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.