Hackney Council has come 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 belongs to Will Prochaska, who uses it to transport his three children, one aged four and two two-year-old twins, to nursery and at the weekend. As the family does not have access to adequate private storage space, the bike is parked outside on the pavement, where it was issued with a seven-day notice from the council yesterday.
According to Section 149 of the Highways Act 1980, “If anything is so deposited on a highway as to constitute a nuisance, the highway authority for the highway may by notice require the person who deposited it there to remove it forthwith.”
If the perceived nuisance isn’t removed by the owner within a week, the local authority may lodge a complaint with a magistrates’ court or remove the offending item themselves immediately.
We were shocked to find a council notice on our bike today saying it’s a nuisance that will be removed in 7 days.☹ We think it's a fantastic example of healthy travel. It’s parked in a way that doesn't block the pavement. Where can we move it? @metecoban92 @hackneycouncil pic.twitter.com/bIHYcVu86d
— Will Prochaska (@WillProchaska) September 6, 2022
After Will posted on Twitter about the unexpected notice – which came about after another resident complained to Hackney Council about the bike’s position on the footpath, which they claimed had been parked there for over a year – 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.”
Hi there, this 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.
— Hackney Council (@hackneycouncil) September 7, 2022
The council’s rather blunt reply provoked something of a backlash on Twitter, with many questioning the authority’s definition of an ‘obstruction’, while some called on Hackney Council to provide more adequate cycle parking facilities, so the likes of Will won’t feel forced to leave their bikes on the footpath.
Mete Coban, Hackney Council’s cabinet member for Energy, Waste, Transport and Public Realm, appeared to agree with the online consensus regarding the need for more spaces to legally park cargo bikes in the area, tweeting: “On the wider point about cycle storage, I think we need to move beyond the cycle hangars, and certainly, we shouldn't be penalising people for opting for healthier travel modes.”
Credit: Will Prochaska
“I think the case shows the desperate need for cargo bike parking solutions in Hackney,” Will told road.cc today. “As it is, the way we park our bike never blocks the pavement, so the argument that it’s an obstruction is false.”
Despite living in one of Hackney’s Low Traffic Neighbourhoods, Will says that getting around on his cargo bike is often difficult due to the “hostile atmosphere towards cyclists” exhibited by a minority of motorists. Two years ago, he claims that an Audi driver verbally abused him and his daughter after knocking him off his bike, leaving Will injured on the street while his child remained attached to the cargo bike.
We've been asking for on street cargo bike storage for a while, but until (if) that comes, does this basically mean you can't own a cargo bike in hackney? Either that or you have to have off street parking? I'm hoping this is just a poorly trained/anti cyclist officer
— Will Prochaska (@WillProchaska) September 6, 2022
Nevertheless, Will remains full of praise for Hackney Council’s progressive cycling and active travel policies, as well as their “fantastic” implementation of LTNs – a positive record, he says, which “makes it incongruous to then disincentivise cargo bikes”.
“Hackney Council have led the way in the UK to support active travel, so this nuisance notice was a surprise,” he tells road.cc.
“I suspect it’s indicative of an over-zealous council officer who may have a chip on their shoulder about cyclists.
“Helpfully, it’s illustrated a need for proper cargo bike parking solutions, which should be available on every street. Only then will more families like mine be able to give up their cars and choose cargo bikes as a safe and secure mode of transport.”
Responding to road.cc’s request for comment, a spokesperson for Hackney Council said: “We’re London’s top borough for cycling, with nearly one in four of our residents cycling once a week and the most residential cycle parking of any London borough.
“We’ve just announced the introduction of 675 new cycle hangars, doubling what we already have, and it’s really important that we continue to encourage people to travel healthily, including by cargo bike.
“The aim of enforcement notices like this is to keep our pavements clear of obstructions for prams and people who use wheelchairs. We received a complaint from a resident about this cargo bike, who stated the cargo bike had been parked there for over a year.
“However, we do recognise that it can be hard for people to park cargo bikes if they don’t have private space for it. We are happy to discuss the issue with Mr Prochaska and have asked him to contact us so we can find a solution.”
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.