11th Aug, 2020

Campaigners saddle up to put pressure on chiefs over rack plan

Rob George 29th Jul, 2020

CAMPAIGNERS calling for a bike rack outside the city’s Art Gallery and Museum continued the long-running row over the proposed scheme with a ‘Rally for a Bike Rack’.

Cyclists, councillors and campaigners gathered outside the museum on Friday (July 24) in a bid to force the county council’s cabinet member for highways Coun Alan Amos to reconsider his decision not to install a bike rack in May.

The outspoken highways chief gave the thumbs down to Worcester City Council’s plan to move a bike rack offering space for 10 bikes into a 45 minute car parking space on Foregate Street and highlighted the loss of a parking space on the busy city road.

But his decision was met with scorn by campaigners and 180 residents signed a petition organised by activist group Bike Worcester calling for a change of heart to allow more city residents to saddle up.

Danny Brothwell, chair of Bike Worcester, said: “The Museum and Art Gallery have no nearby cycle storage racks for visitors yet plenty of nearby car parking spaces. The City Council came up with a fantastic idea to install pop-up cycle racks – it’s a mystery why this seems to have been blocked by the County Council.”

Bike Worcester chiefs said the proposals had cross-party support with Conservatives such as Coun Andy Stafford joining high-profile Labour voices such as Coun Paul Denham and the Green Party’s Coun Matt Jenkins in showing their backing.

Coun Louis Stephen, Green Party group leader on Worcester City Council, said: “The ‘Rally for a bike rack’ event has shown how ten cycles could be parked in the space of two cars. There are massive economic and public health reasons to encourage more cycling in the city.”

Coun Denham, Labour lead member for highways at the county council, said: “I asked why the proposed cycle parking opposite the museum and art gallery had been refused at a meeting of the County Council Economy and Environment Panel on June 19, attended by Coun Amos, and senior council officers.

“My question was not answered, either at the meeting or since.”

In response, Coun Amos said: “County highways support all forms of transport but, unlike the anti-car Labour-Green coalition on the City Council who want to ban all vehicles from the whole of the City Centre and remove parking spaces, we Conservatives believe in freedom of choice and trust people to choose the most suitable form of travel to suit their own particular needs.

“This year’s highways budget contained the largest-ever increase in spending on footways, the largest-ever increase in the bus subsidy, and our long-term plan has a very long list of waking and cycling schemes even though only one per cent of commuters cycle to work.

“In a county-wide survey last year only two per cent of people said cycling was an alternative. So, we are catering for choice.”

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