Derbyshire County Council has now completed installation of the six cycle stands promised earlier this year for the High Peak town of Whaley Bridge — its first official bicycle parking.
The stands are positioned in three pairs on the main Buxton Road: two outside The Railway pub at the junction of Reservoir Road, two squeezed onto the pavement next to the junction of Canal Street and two, somewhat oddly, way outside the centre at a pedestrian crossing opposite the primary school.
The first two are placed in the space freed up by a removed phone box, on a really wide bit of pavement.
The second (below) are more awkward. A planter has been shifted to fit them in, but even with a standard frame bike on the first stand it almost blocks the second. You’d struggle to actually physically lock four bikes here (and I’d be worried about a vehicle cutting the kerb and taking my wheel with it).
It probably would’ve been better to just ditch or move the planter entirely, or even install the stands at a slight angle.
All this jostling for precious pavement space seems quite ridiculous when you consider just how humongous the width of Buxton Road is here. Like almost everywhere else in the High Peak, the centre of this town is clearly long overdue a complete rethink of its space and the dominance of cars on it.
I’d be surprised if anyone ever uses the final two stands. They’re sort-of near to The Cock pub, but not near enough you’d really want to leave your bike shivering there.
Perhaps DCC are thinking they’d be useful for the school run, but then doesn’t the school have its own bike parking? Rather than a legitimate need, it feels a bit like they had the land, and the stands, and that’s it, box ticked.
But hurrah, now you can lock your bike in Whaley Bridge easily.
The “Sheffield stands” are being installed as part of a large order to be dished out right across the county, with several places in the High Peak set to benefit.
The district’s towns have long been left desperately wanting for official, easy places to lock bikes, making them more welcoming for both passing tourers and locals wanting to pootle to the shops. While Derbyshire County Council (DCC) should’ve addressed this years ago, they’re now using some of the government’s emergency active travel funding to play catch-up. It’s a very, very welcome investment.
The council had previously suggested Chinley would be in line for a couple more prominent stands. They’ve now also told me discussions are happening with Chapel-en-le-Frith Parish Council to determine the best location of what could be the first ever cycle stands around the town’s historic market place (usually filled with parked cars). If you have any strong feelings there, it may be worth contacting either party.
Meanwhile, two bonus stands earmarked for New Mills were proposed to be installed randomly beside the traffic lights on the junction of Union Road and Albion Road, far away from and not within sight of any actual destination. These are now hopefully being re-thought after I pointed out they would never actually be used.
The town still urgently needs more bike parking, especially when the local events group decide to plonk a Christmas tree on top of the only two central stands during the key business season. (Only seven months left to come up with a solution to that one, folks.)
One disappointing sticking point, besides the need to work around underground utilities and which land the county council actually owns, is that DCC say they “would never remove on-street parking” in favour of cycle parking. Really, never?
As one example, our house pays council tax for two residents, yet my partner drives and I don’t. He can park his car almost anywhere in bays along the full length of Albion Road in New Mills for free, and I can lock my bike… nowhere. That seems unfair.
There’s not enough pavement space, so would it really be so disastrous to swap the space of one parked car (or less) for up to six bikes? Ultimately it just means I never, ever visit the businesses there; they lose out. Probably a good time to quote the stats that cycle parking “delivers five times the retail spend per square metre than the same area of car parking” (TfL, Raje and Saffrey, 2016).
So for everyone’s sake, as the high street recovery begins, let’s make sure all these long-awaited stands are installed sensibly, where we actually need them to be.