Riding a bike in Romsey Town

This article was published in 2005, in Newsletter 60.

It’s not the most pressing issue facing the city, but if Cambridge wants to promote itself as cycle friendly then I think it has got to be a lot more generous in providing secure cycle parking for its residents. It has also got to stop criminalising them.

Cycle parking

This has been bugging me for a long time, and I’ve been unwilling to raise the issue until I can think of a solution. I haven’t, but I can’t take it any longer, so I have to share with you my views on the lack of residential cycle parking in Romsey.

Cars legally permitted to park on the pavements in Romsey cause immense problems for everyone else
Image as described adjacent

Thoday Street is fairly typical of the terraced streets in Romsey. Cars are parked on both sides of the road across the pavement for the whole length of the road. A by-law permitting this has been in place for quite some time. After some sort of consultation in 2002 (which did not suggest cycle parking as an option) white lines were painted to mark car parking bays on the pavement. This has left a one metre wide gap between the houses and the parked cars.

The fact that many houses along the street have cycles parked on the pavement, many secured by loops in the wall, was totally ignored by the highway authority in their assessment of what is a one metre wide gap. And the fact that wheelie bins are also left out was deemed to be a ‘regrettable fact of life’ and an ‘insurmountable problem’ and also ignored in the planning. The metre gap was necessary to accommodate wheelchairs.

One-way streets

In 1994 the road was made one way along its whole length, with no cycling exemption.

Streets in Romsey are one-way, almost entirely because of the overriding requirement by car owners that they can park everywhere
Image as described adjacent

I’ve done a count of cycling in the street (see Cycle counting with a Web Cam in this newsletter) and discovered that for every three cyclists cycling the right way along the street, there’s one coming the other way. Some cycle against the flow as though it is permitted (and so are presumably unaware of the one way), while others cycle along the pavement or give way to oncoming traffic. The contraflow cyclists appear to be of all ages and of all degrees of ‘respectability’.

The pavements are so heavily blocked that pedestrians regularly walk down the middle of the road. Folk with pushchairs duck in and out, finding a way through wherever possible.

When cycling down the road with the flow you are often caught up by a motor vehicle which then seems to pursue you, sometimes gunning the engine until you yield. Most unpleasant.

The so-called traffic calming is of the type that has the ability to eject stuff from your cycle basket if you forget to brace yourself when cycling at a normal speed. Traffic announces its presence in the road by a series of hard acceleration and hard braking at each of the road bumps. It’s supposed to be a 20mph street.


There’s nowhere to reasonably leave a cycle in the Romsey area
Image as described adjacent

In short this is a road where it seems that cars can drive in both directions on the pavement (to park) and where there is no cycle parking. The way the car parking has been allocated makes it appear that the blockage is caused by bikes attached to houses rather than by cars on the pavement.

I’ve tried to raise the cycle parking issue with the city engineers. I have been told that I need to generate some ‘political will’ to create cycle parking on the carriageway. However, a councillor has said to me that such a scheme could be ‘officer led’!

The problem I have is that, despite my grumbles, I do think that the white lines have made it easier to pass up and down on foot on what’s left of the footway. On the other hand, the system has totally broken down and the losers are the pedestrians, children in pushchairs, wheelchair users and cyclists.

If there any other residents of Romsey, or other places within the city, who would like to join me in thinking up solutions, please let me know via the normal campaign contact addresses.

Simon Nuttall