Councillors at Cambridge’s East Area Committee on the 28th of November 2013 were not keen on giving just one car parking space on Thoday Street, Romsey, over to parking for 8+ bikes.
The meeting was told that a council survey of Thoday Street residents found about half of those responding in favour of the proposals and half against.
A trial involving placing cycle parking racks in a car parking space has been carried out and the current question is if such cycle parking ought be made permanent.
Councillors cited the lack of clear majority support for the cycle parking in response to their consultation exercise as their reason for not supporting it.
The details of the consultation; and the responses to it, were not presented to the meeting and as far as I know have not yet been made public. I think this information ought be made public in the interests of informed debate.
I would also like to know what was monitored before, and during the trial, and what the results show. How did taking away space for cars impact the availability of parking for them?
Hester Wells I’m here on behalf of the Cambridge Cycling Campaign firstly to welcome promised cycle racks on
Morton Road and Hinton Street. [I'm not sure those streets exist?!]Mawson Road and Kingston St. and also we would like to support calls for cycle parking on Thoday Street.
We are particularly keen they should be positioned off the pavement in order to free space for people using push chairs and wheelchairs. Do councillors support the principle of more cycle parking in residential areas in the East Area?
Cllr Kevin Blencowe : Cllr Kavanagh
Cllr Noel Kavanagh : Yes, erm, Cllr Kavanagh from Coleridge ward. I’m also County Council cycling champ and I fully endorse the increase in secure cycle parking not just in the streets you just mentioned but also across the city. I work closely with the cycling team at Shire Hall to try to facilitate that so yes is the short answer.
Cllr Blencowe : Thank you. Cllr Saunders had his hand up. Quite a few people have got their hand up.
Cllr Paul Saunders : Thank you chair. The short answer is yes on the cycling thing. The parking on the street was a very good idea; especially if we can get it in places where it isn’t in the way of anything else. There must be lots of corners and bits of pavements that are not needed – we’ve introduced odd bits on Mill Road for example we’ve got some in by the tanning salon we’ve got some in there, there are lots of places. The Thoday one you mention is problematic and I’ve spent a lot of time talking about this one and in fact the people live nearby are very evenly balanced for and against and it’s difficult to come up with a particular public thrust so far and I think we need to do more research on that. Erm. You know it’s one of those things which affects people in different ways; some can get their bikes around the back, some cannot. The permanent loss of a parking space is to many people a problem in the small streets of Cambridge we do have an over-provision of cars and a limited number of spaces and the loss of a space is to some people something they do not want. Personally as a cyclist and a driver I’m fairly understanding of both positions. So I think at this moment we have to do some more research on the Thoday one to see if we can get a better view of what the people who actually live there really need .
Hester Wells : Can I just point out a further thing; as you say residents were split 50:50 on this. It seems to be we’ve got a 50:50 split but we’re talking about a minority of the street, just one car parking space, not the re-allocation of parking across the whole street. Therefore taking a view …. doesn’t seem to me to necessarily be quite the way to deal with this. [I think the suggestion is that as it is only one car parking space being lost; the support of only a small minority of residents should be sufficient for the scheme to go ahead].
Cllr Blencowe : OK. Do other members wish to address this question.
Cllr Zoe Moghadas : Erm yeah again you know the short answer is yes to the question that I’m all in favour of more cycle parking, as Cllr Kavanagh said we need to look at it right across the city. Just on the back of what you were saying on Thoday Street I think because we are essentially representing all residents so actually we do have to really look carefully at what is being said. Thoday Street, two separate residents approached me asking for more cycle parking, particularly with one resident who was giving up their vehicle with the aim for their family to be more cycle… a cycle friendly family but realised the houses, his hallway, didn’t really accommodate all the bikes with the kids so erm, I’d put that forward to officers and obviously that then triggered consultation across the street and you know when that consultation came in it was split so the way forward with that is looking at that again which is happening so I’m hopeful that I think actually it’s a really good example but it does need to be done democratically and it was inconclusive when that one asked for residents’ views but the number of residents who engaged and came back on that consultation wasn’t in my view extensive enough which is why it has been floated again. So I’m really hopeful that that can move forward and there have been as Cllr Saunders has noted some new cycle racks which have been put in. I was grateful to those outside the tanning salon tonight when I was looking for somewhere to park my bike. I hadn’t spotted those before so I thought: “Yeah brilliant.” Erm I think that’s all I’ll say on that, but yeah I’m completely behind it and I’ll be looking at that and welcome other residents in other streets to come forward and we will do similar as I’ve done for Thoday street residents.
Cllr Blencowe : Cllr Brown
Cllr Sarah Brown : Thanks chair. Tempting to give the single syllable answer to this question. Yes, in case you are wondering. But I will elaborate, this isn’t just an issue of
eightX cycle spaces verses a single car parking space they are not the only interested parties, the streets in question are extremely narrow and have narrow pavements and quite often there is a line of parked cars along them. If you are trying to get along there if you have a pushchair, a wheel chair or even bulky shopping bags sometimes err particularly if you are walking past a pub with lots of bikes locked outside as can often happen it can actually be very difficult to get past and I think adding extra cycle parking to the street really helps alleviate that by sort of making it more accommodating? for cyclists and actually motorists because taking cars off the road by providing extra cycle facilities is reducing congestion but also uses up the pavement which is everybody so this is actually…= [inaudible murmur]
Cllr Blencowe :Cllr Saunders to come back then Cllr Smart.
Cllr Saunders : Just I thought I’d better just mention I am a member of the Cambridge Cycling Campaign so I have an interest in this. Erm cycling does matter to me; this is not something which I take at all lightly, in fact living in the centre of Cambridge I’ve actually sold my car which hopefully helps this issue and actually I do take public transport or walk most of the time. But, my job as a councillor is to take the interests of everyone in line so I do have to look at the results of the consultation and look at what’s in the greater good.
Cllr Smart : I think one of the problems is that people do have a tendency to think that the piece of highway outside their house belongs to them and therefore when they give up their car they can ask for cycling provision outside because they’ve given up their car which you know we all know the highway is the highway and in any case if there are cycle racks there that means a car can’t park there at all even when the person who believes it is their space as it were isn’t there. It is not as straight-forward as sometimes it looks as though it ought to be. As both several people have said the consultation was absolutely split. Now whether everyone who, while some people say if you agree with it people tend not to respond and that is perfectly true but I think we really do … it’s not clear what the should be done so therefore doing it, whatever it might be, immediately, is not an option because it is not there. As others have said we do need to look at it further, particularly to encourage people to respond if they are in that particular stretch of the street because that I think is the crucial issue, not if myself who lives in the parallel street thinks it is a good idea or not. But those people who live in that part of the street think it is a good idea, that’s the crucial thing. We shall see. Watch this space.
Cllr Blencowe : OK. I think a variety of answers there.
I don’t think small numbers of residents in the immediate vicinity of a scheme, be it cycle parking or any other work on the highway, should be allowed to derail it. If councillors are elected on a platform of, for example making the city a more attractive place to cycle, they should have the confidence to get on with pursuing attempting to deliver what they have promised without worrying about repeated, interminable, consultation exercises.
I think the focus on consultation is a result of councillors who lack confidence, and lack a mandate. If we had higher turn out in elections, and councillors who really had the support of a majority of their constituents they could enact their promises and visions; as it is though the majority of people invariably don’t vote for any of the councillors on the ballot at election time. I would prefer a strong representative democracy rather than the “treat consultation responses as a referendum vote” approach to democracy espoused by Cllr Moghadas and Cllr Smart along with many other of our councillors.
Cllr Smart’s position appeared internally inconsistent as on one hand she was arguing people don’t have a right to decide what happens to the road outside their homes, but then argued that it was the views of the residents in the immediate vicinity of the proposed cycle parking that were the most important factor. Cllr Smart gives little weight to the views of a single household, but large weight to those of a handful.
It may be that the provision of better cycle parking takes a long time to have an impact; and perhaps for the numbers of cars used by residents in the area decreases.
It would be interesting to know what fraction of the population in the area own cars; and if the vast majority of the street space is currently being given over to benefit a minority of people.
I wonder how practical outdoor, on street, cycle parking is for keeping a reasonable quality bike in good condition for regular, practical use for things like shopping and commuting. In my own personal experience bikes deteriorate rather rapidly when left outside. Should we really be aiming higher than providing the kind of racks that are probably more suited to visitors than everyday parking of someone’s primary form of transport?