A local biking person was shocked (she’s young) to discover that – while Bigtownshire Council has been eeeeever so slooooowly considering maybe thinking about developing a cycling strategy but, you know, all in the fullness of time and only if there’s nothing urgent going on with the buses, let’s not go mad here – Bigtown has long had a parking strategy and that parking strategy is that for every parking space that is lost, a new parking space has to be created.
This in a way is odd, because as it happens, ‘lost’ parking spaces are quickly found again – there’s a street right on the edge of the town centre (where there has been rash talk of a bike contraflow lane) which has had double yellows on it for as long as we have lived up here, and people still park on it as if they weren’t there, despite it being ooh, 50 yards from an enormous, free (good Lord, you wouldn’t want to make people pay for parking would you?) car park, which complements the many dozens of other free car parks dotted around the town centre. Indeed, when I decided to join in the fun by parking my bike on the double yellows outside the bike shop (hey, I’ve got a kick stand now, which means I can just park it anywhere, as long as I don’t mind doing the 50 yard dash back towards it when it inevitably falls over as soon as I’ve gone out of sight), I was amused by all the filthy looks I got from drivers who were trying to park illegally on that street and had found that one of THEIR illegal parking spaces was being taken up by a bicycle. You could almost see them looking around for a traffic warden, except that all the traffic wardens have gone (replaced by the police allegedly), to universal rejoicing earlier this year. Oh how they regret that now…
Still, I got some inkling how they felt when I rounded the corner to meet a fellow bike conspirator at one of our favourite coffee and cake emporia to find that MY bike parking (leaning it up against the window where I could keep an eye on it) had been blocked by tables and chairs and people sitting around in the sunshine as though we were in France or something. The horrors. Fortunately we were able to score a table in the sun (and view of our bikes) ourselves – and were mollified by the proprietress coming out and inquiring about ‘one of those big planter bike parking things‘.
Clearly all my energetic tweeting about cake is beginning to pay off as the local coffee shops, if nothing else, start to realise that their real profit lies in the hollow legs and bottomless appetites of the local cycling community, and Bigtown’s parking strategy is about to get a lot more complicated … It’s not exactly a cycling strategy, but it’s a start.