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"Green measles" bike hangars may threaten Unesco World Heritage status, resident claims

The Bath local suggested the bike hangars will offer graffiti artists a "field day" and "make Unesco's decision so much simpler"...

A Bath resident has hit out at the council's bike hangar trial, calling the bike storage pods "green measles" and suggesting they could have implications for the city's Unesco World Heritage status.

Speaking to the Chronicle about Liberal Democrat-run Bath and North East Somerset Council's recently begun two-year trial of the on-street storage solution, June Ward raised concerns the FalcoPods were not in keeping with the Georgian aesthetic.

The complaints are similar to the noises heard from Brighton and Hove at the back end of last year when residents reported being "concerned and distressed" by a newly installed "giant ugly" bike hangar.

> Residents "threatened with police" after "surrounding" contractors installing bike hangar

Writing to the local press, June Ward, a long-time resident of Sydney Buildings, the street pictured below in 2019 and one of the locations picked for the Bath trial, said she fears the "green measles" could spread across the city.

Sydney Buildings (Google Maps)

"So could it be that we might see Bath attacked with a serious case of 'Green Measles' in Great Pulteney Street, at each end of the Royal Crescent or even in the middle of the Circus?" she asked.

"Were 'Green Measles' to happen it would be a field day for the graffiti artists and make Unesco's decision whether to allow Bath to remain on their list of World Heritage Sites so much simpler."

On its website, UNESCO notes Bath "remains vulnerable to transport pressures", with "improved transport" based around public transport and pedestrianisation part of the management plan to protect the city's integrity and authenticity as a World Heritage site.

And while cycling is not mentioned explicitly, the advised shift to walking and a "bus-based network" implies the "need for improved transport" will not be answered by overdependence on car use.

Bath and North East Somerset Council's trial of the Falco-manufactured pods will see space for 24 bikes across four hangars provided on New King Street, Sydney Buildings and Great Stanhope Street, accessible via a mobile app or physical key at a cost of £42 per bike per year during the trial.

"We want to encourage more residents to leave the car at home and consider cycling instead, especially for short journeys around Bath, so we need to remove barriers which prevent people from owning and using a bike, by providing dedicated and secure cycle parking near their home," Cllr Sarah Warren, the cabinet member for Climate and Sustainable Travel said.

But Sydney Buildings resident Ward questioned the long-term impact, suggesting Bath could eventually be "awash" with bike hangars for "folk who do not like having to haul their bicycles through the likes of a Georgian front door".

"Sydney Buildings overwhelmingly voted recently to install large green bicycle lockups/sheds on the road with very few dissenters. They now stand at the entrance to our road along with, I believe, two others as part of an experiment," she explained.

"The advantages are obvious and the idea was voted in by folk who do not like having to haul their bicycles through the likes of a Georgian front door. In addition, the idea is very much in line with our council's present drive to get cars out of Bath and more and more people onto their bicycles.

"I can quite understand the reasoning behind this decision in the short-term but wonder if consideration has been given to the long-term. Some 24 years ago my husband and I found ourselves involved in a long, 18-month, hard-fought battle with the planners to convince them to allow us to put back the railings in front of our house that had been removed as part of the war effort.

"It was carefully explained to us that Sydney Buildings, apart from being one of the prettiest roads in the city, was like a 'history of Bath' with houses running from Georgian to the modern day and needed to be conserved and protected. A view very definitely at odds with the present council presumably.

"To the future with Bath awash with similar houses where bicycles must be taken through the front door, it would be invidious favouritism for the council to turn down others who would also wish to have a large green box in which safely to store their bicycles wherever in Bath they lived.

"I am too old to see the end of this issue and will probably be watching with interest beside the planners who so stoutly defended our responsibility to beauty and conservation for future generations over the mere convenience of the present day."

Bike hangar déjà vu

The comments and concerns are not dissimilar, Unesco World Heritage status aside, to many of the complaints we heard from the Sussex coast where some Brighton and Hove residents objected to similar storage being offered to cyclists.

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

Some were even "threatened with police" after "surrounding" contractors installing one such hangar last month.

It was also reported that it appeared a large vehicle may have crashed into another hangar just two months after its positioning, taking up two car parking spaces, caused outrage.

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

The Sun newspaper got involved and found a resident willing to brand the "scheme to scrap parking spaces" as "woke" and a "cynical ploy".

Dan joined road.cc in 2020, and spent most of his first year (hopefully) keeping you entertained on the live blog. At the start of 2022 he took on the role of news editor. Before joining road.cc, Dan wrote about various sports, including football and boxing for the Daily Express, and covered the weird and wonderful world of non-league football for The Non-League Paper. Part of the generation inspired by the 2012 Olympics, Dan has been 'enjoying' life on two wheels ever since and spends his weekends making bonk-induced trips to the petrol stations of the south of England.

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25 comments

Avatar
Shades | 12 months ago
4 likes

I live in Bath; one resident writes to the local rag and it's classed as a major news story (click-bait tbh).  Feels like the world centre of NIMBYism (or Continuously Against Virtually Everything (CAVE)...just read that on another story) at times; it's not a museum.  This is the usual plausible criticism which translates as, "It's reducing the amount of parking outside my house and I don't like it" which goes with the other reasons to oppose LTNs, residents parking, Clean Air Zone, cycle infrastructure, scooters (parked on the pavement; it's the end of the world!) and 15 min cities.  The solution, as far as this lot are concerned, is 'do-nothing' and just let cars run amock which really does blight Bath; you just normalise around it tbh.  So much stunning Georgian architecture just gets lost behind seas of backed up traffic.  You can't get a walk-in table in a restaurant on a home Bath rugby day; but heaven forbid suggesting upgrading the ground (to a stadium) to some people.  If this woman lives in Sydney Buildings then it's down on the flat (N and S of Bath centre are steep hills) so pefect for getting about by bike (e bike to power up the hills).  Often there isn't, or it isn't easy, access to the back of Georgian terraces and the other option is leaving a bike in the hall, or carrying it down to a cellar, so what a fantastic idea to have an on-street bike box; on your bike in a flash.  Perhaps some of her neighbours could take their wheely bins, food waste bins or recycling boxes inside rather than blighting the fronts of the terraces.  Local elections in May; the Tories are whipping up the faithful (or clueless conspiracy gang) over the current Lib-Dem council attempts to change the narrative regarding sustainable travel; some solutions are better than others but at least someone's trying.  It is a very lovely city to live in though.

Avatar
ubercurmudgeon | 12 months ago
8 likes

Unfortunately, she's right: UNESCO won't even consider anywhere that doesn't have at least 100 Renault Scénics parked around it at all times. For proof, check your own holiday snaps. If they're anything like mine you'll see a battered 90s Scénic in front of nearly every old building. So, if the figure for Bath drops to 99, because the council thoughtlessly provides secure cycle parking for residents, it'll definitely lose World Heritage status.

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chrisonabike replied to ubercurmudgeon | 12 months ago
4 likes

How do you think the World Heritage folks will get there / get around the place they're inspecting? Exactly!

If you even have to fly to climate change conferences... how otherwise will folks know you're important and your time is precious if you're not using the biggest / fastest / most expensive vehicle?

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SimoninSpalding | 1 year ago
9 likes

If it was me I would be campaigning for the council to commission local street artists to decorate the bike hangars. I am sure that Bath must have a few, if not there's a chap who isn't bad from Bristol I understand. Either way, it could make Bath a UNESCO destination for modern reasons rather than ancient history.

We recently had a "to do" in south Lincs where the council commissioned a local street artist to do a mural for the sports centre on the theme of wellbeing. They got quite animated when he chose to focus on the impact on wellbeing of the cost of living crisis. Not what they had in mind apparently.

 

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Oldfatgit | 1 year ago
3 likes

If I can't have my railings... you can't have your bike stands.

That seems to be the real driver for the complaint.

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OldRidgeback replied to Oldfatgit | 1 year ago
2 likes

My S London street has a WhatsApp group and at the moment there's a spirited discussion about the erection of more cycle hangers. It's very depressing.

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brooksby | 1 year ago
12 likes
Quote:

June Ward raised concerns the FalcoPods(link is external) were not in keeping with the Georgian aesthetic.

Erm, yes, because all those twentieth/twenty-first century cars fit so well into the Georgian aesthetic... 

Avatar
Backladder replied to brooksby | 1 year ago
7 likes
brooksby wrote:
Quote:

June Ward raised concerns the FalcoPods(link is external) were not in keeping with the Georgian aesthetic.

Erm, yes, because all those twentieth/twenty-first century cars fit so well into the Georgian aesthetic... 

Bicycles are definately a Georgian invention, if they don't like the pods then perhaps they should pay for some peelers to watch over them.

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giff77 replied to Backladder | 12 months ago
2 likes

As long as the peelers are resplendent in tunics rather than these tatty polo shirts and combat trousers. 

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ktache replied to giff77 | 12 months ago
1 like

I know it's practical, but I'm not keen on the adoption of the paramilitary look of our police service. I occasionally see a member of the BTP at reading station wearing a proper police helmet, there is something mildly reassuring about it.

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AidanR | 1 year ago
9 likes

The hangers could definitely be a bit prettier, but the impact of traffic, fumes, parked cars etc is far more detrimental to the quality of life in any city. If they want to preserve the Georgian ambiance, perhaps ban all motor vehicles?

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Paul J replied to AidanR | 12 months ago
1 like

The fumes from the car actually discolour, erode and damage the stonework of these buildings! Based on the concerns, the cars should be banned completely from streets with such important heritage!

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ymm | 1 year ago
7 likes

The march of progress, something which some people cannot cope with even when it improves their lives. The many examples of 20th century change in Bath are far more destructive to its historic fabric. Such a shame that there are so many HGV and large van lovers out there who are so blind to positive progress.

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eburtthebike | 1 year ago
17 likes

Surely it's time that one of the hangar manufacturers designed something that looked like a large van, so that people concerned with the effect on the aesthetics in their street would be happy?

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Clem Fandango | 1 year ago
18 likes

My eldest is in her 2nd year at Uni in Bath. I'm sure the kebab van she frequents on a Friday night has grade 2 listed status or something..... And the rubgy ground opposite it - floodlights are essential for UNESCO status I hear.

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Rendel Harris replied to Clem Fandango | 1 year ago
13 likes

I was lucky enough to spend a postgraduate year in Bath many years ago, and even luckier to get digs in a Georgian house right in the centre. I had a wonderful time but I don't recall the nose to tail traffic and associated fumes every morning and evening feeling particularly enhancing of the World Heritage status.

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wtjs | 1 year ago
9 likes

The moaners are simply, as indicated below, a dreadful bunch of selfish thick-headed NIMBYs, and the support from the Sun is not surprising- the other hyper-junk papers should be along soon!

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Zermattjohn | 1 year ago
12 likes

I have a British racing green car. Happy for me to chuck that where I want? Even better you can see inside to the litter in the footwell, and it's not been cleaned in months so it's pretty grim tbh.

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Laurian | 1 year ago
13 likes

So...all other manner of modern conveniences and installations in Bath (all of which are just as easily graffiti-able, not to mention the buildings of Bath themselves) would not threaten the UNESCO status of the city, but these green boxes would? So cars crammed on every street, all the bins and telephone boxes, bus stops, modern store fronts, bin lorries and delivery trucks, lamp posts and street signs, recycling dispensaries, skips etc etc are just fine, are they? Some people just don't think.

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LeadenSkies replied to Laurian | 1 year ago
18 likes

All those Georgian BMW X5s and Range Rovers massively improve the aesthetic of historic Bath don't you think? It would be totally spoilt if they replaced a few of them with 1/6th the number of horrid green boxes.

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eburtthebike replied to Laurian | 1 year ago
3 likes
Laurian wrote:

Some people just don't think.

Merely one of benefits of prejudice; you don't need to think.

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youngoldbloke replied to eburtthebike | 1 year ago
11 likes

Totally inappropriate. They should be Bath stone, Georgian style, with a natural slate roof.

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I love my bike replied to youngoldbloke | 1 year ago
1 like

Well, why couldn't they be finished in a Bathstone hue? Possibly granite grey for Aberdeen etc

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chrisonabike replied to youngoldbloke | 12 months ago
1 like

I'd settle for the cars having wooden carriagework.  Possibly with nice brass carriage-lamps and a canvas / leather hood.  I think making them out of Bath stone and slate would cause more damage to the roads.

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giff77 replied to chrisonabike | 12 months ago
0 likes

I quite like the Morgan. Though I doubt some of the residents of Bath would be able to clamber into one let alone drag themselves out of one. 

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