A cargo bike user has been branded “selfish” after a Waitrose customer claimed that, while exiting the shop, he almost tripped over the bike’s front wheel, which he said was “blocking” the entrance and adjacent pedestrian walkway.
The customer’s account has been subsequently ridiculed by cyclists on social media, who pointed out that the cargo bike was stationed at a cycle rack, positioned “well back” from the shop’s entrance, and that there was ample space to access the building using the pavement.
However, the customer responded to the criticism by arguing that the bike’s position on the pavement – away from allocated cargo bike spacing nearby – was the equivalent of “a HGV parking in an allocated car space”.
Cargo bike locked & blocking the pedestrian walkway into Waitrose, Headington @BadlyParkedOx @HeadingtonNews
Not worried about the elderly, disabled or less mobile, they’ve blocked the entrance instead of using the cargo bike parking spaces provided on the London Rd. Nice 👍🏻 pic.twitter.com/9LSgcyhETA
— Innkeeper55 (@Innkeeper55) December 8, 2023
The cargo bike was photographed on Friday by X (formerly Twitter) user Innkeeper55 outside the Waitrose on Old High Street in the Oxford suburb of Headington.
“Cargo bike locked and blocking the pedestrian walkway into Waitrose,” the Twitter user wrote. “Not worried about the elderly, disabled, or less mobile, they’ve blocked the entrance instead of using the cargo bike parking spaces provided on the London Road. Nice.”
The post, which has been viewed over 85,000 times, has divided opinion on the social media platform, as cyclists posted their own photos of the bike parking situation outside Waitrose to argue that the initial photograph was “dishonest” and that there is “plenty of room” for customers to access the shop:
Don’t really see what the problem is - plenty of room to access Waitrose from pavement pic.twitter.com/SIzChZBIYq
— nick gibb (@nickpgibb) December 8, 2023
“You could say the same about cars parked on pavements – yes, you could walk around but you shouldn’t have to,” Innkeeper55 responded.
“I came out of the shop and turned immediately left as I do daily and nearly tripped over the bloody front wheel. Any one less abled would not have been able to pass.”
“I do see your point,” the In Oxford account replied, “A couple of things though: Waitrose have said in the past that section isn’t intended as a ‘path’. The much wider pathway is, to the left of your pic, which you’ve deliberately cut out. Also, the cargo bike owner may not know dedicated parking spots exist for them.”
The customer replied: “It’s a heavily used walkway whatever Waitrose may have said. I’m not looking for an argument with anyone, but this is very selfish parking of a cargo bike which restricts pedestrians who use the walkway. Locals know there’s much more considerate places to park these bikes.”
Rory McCarron, a senior solicitor at Leigh Day who specialises in cycling-related issues, also noted that the cargo bike was “parked at the specific bike parking”.
He continued: “There’s a Boardman bike parked beyond it. Considering the layout here, the cargo bike is well set back from the entrance and not even the nearest rack to the entrance. Absolutely pathetic.”
“No it’s not,” Inkeeper55 said. “It’s like a HGV parking in an allocated car space.”
Of course, this isn’t the first time that the placement of a cargo bike has been the subject of controversy.
In September 2022, Hackney Council came in for criticism after an enforcement notice was placed on a family-owned cargo bike which was parked on a pavement, demanding its removal within seven days.
The bike belonged to Will Prochaska, who used it to transport his three children, one aged four and two two-year-old twins, to nursery and at the weekend. As the family did not have access to adequate private storage space, the bike was parked outside on the pavement, where it was issued with a seven-day notice from the local authority.
After Will posted on Twitter about the unexpected notice, the council responded by tweeting that the bike “is causing an obstruction on the pavement so it would need to be removed and parked somewhere safe. This can be on your own private property or somewhere designated for bicycles” – a rather blunt reply which caused something of a backlash on the social media platform.
“I think the case shows the desperate need for cargo bike parking solutions in Hackney,” Will told road.cc. “As it is, the way we park our bike never blocks the pavement, so the argument that it’s an obstruction is false.”
And in July, Bristol couple Anna and Mark Cordle made the headlines after they set up a parking space for their family cargo bike outside their home which, a year after it was installed, became the subject of threats by the council to remove it – because, the local authority said, it was taking up a car parking space.
When asking Anna and Mark – who made the switch to a cargo bike after giving up their car – to remove the heavy planters used to secure the bike, Bristol City Council claimed that placing them on the road is in breach of Section 149 of the Highways Act, and that they would be liable “if any person has an accident as a result of [your] planters being on the highway”.
Ryan joined road.cc in December 2021 and since then has kept the site’s readers and listeners informed and enthralled (well at least occasionally) on news, the live blog, and the road.cc Podcast. After boarding a wrong bus at the world championships and ruining a good pair of jeans at the cyclocross, he now serves as road.cc’s senior news writer. Before his foray into cycling journalism, he wallowed in the equally pitiless world of academia, where he wrote a book about Victorian politics and droned on about cycling and bikes to classes of bored students (while taking every chance he could get to talk about cycling in print or on the radio). He can be found riding his bike very slowly around the narrow, scenic country lanes of Co. Down.