Bristol couple told to remove “dangerous” bike parking spot made from plant pots

Anna and Mark Cordle with their DIY parking spaceAnna and Mark Cordle with their DIY parking space
Anna and Mark Cordle with their DIY parking space | SWNS
The council alleges it received a complaint from a highway user

A Bristol couple who built a DIY parking space for their bike using plant pots have been ordered to remove it by a council.

Shocked parents-of-three Anna and Mark Cordle, 38 and 37, wanted someone to leave their cargo bike so created a dedicated space using planters.

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They said they spoke to all their neighbours who raised no objections - but have now received a letter from Bristol City Council ordering them to remove the planters.

The council alleges it received a complaint from a highway user, and they believe the planters to be an ‘obstruction/danger’ on the road.

The letter also states that if any injuries or accidents are sustained as a result of the planters, Anna, a teacher, and Mark, an environmental consultant, would be liable.

The couple say they now feel penalised for choosing a bike – despite the council saying they want people to use ‘active transport’ rather than cars.

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Anna said: “Bristol City Council are threatening to rip away safe family cargo bike storage infrastructure so that someone else’s car can use the space instead.

“They are opting to deny us the infrastructure we need for us to stay car-free, making a mockery of Bristol’s climate and active travel plans.

“We live in a terrace, with no front garden to speak of, so the only option for us was to park the bike - our car replacement - where we used to park the car, on the road.

“Our response to the council is that we will be happy to remove [the planters] once the infrastructure is provided for the same purpose."

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The letter also claims if they remove the planters immediately no further action would be taken – but Anna and Mark say they would no longer be able to use their cargo bike if they had nowhere to leave it outside.

They said they made the decision to swap their car for a cargo bike more than a year ago.

While the family have their own individual bikes, which they keep inside the house, they say they trialled different ways of transporting their children via bike before they decided on a cargo bike.

The large container on the front of the bike allows them to travel with their three children– who they had previously struggled to transport via cycling.

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However, the container is too large to fit through the door to their home, so they decided to secure it outside in the spot where they had previously parked their car.

After asking people living on their street and neighbouring streets if they would object, they claimed their community was overwhelmingly supportive of the idea.

Using two large heavy planters, they were able to create a secure solution for locking the bike – and say the area they are using takes up less space than a parked car.

The couple say they tried to take an official route but found there was no process to ask the council for permission.

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However, last weekend they were visited by Bristol City Council’s neighbourhood enforcement team who delivered a letter informing them there had been a complaint and they would have to remove the planters from the road.

The letter read: “I have received complaints from the public that the planters are causing obstruction/danger to highway users.

“Please remove the planters urgently and ensure they are not replaced on the highway at any time.

“If any person has an accident as the result of your planters being on the highway, it will be you who will be liable for meeting any compensation claim.

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“I would assure you that your urgent attention to this matter would mean that no further action would be taken by the Council.”

But Anna and Mark say they feel the request from the council is ‘unreasonable’.

Anna said: “We feel it is unreasonable for the council to give credence to what to us are anonymous complaints.

“Before we got the bike and installed the planters we consulted with our street - everyone we spoke to was very positive about the idea.

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“Bristol has declared a climate emergency, there are high levels of air pollution and incredible levels of children suffering with breathing difficulties due to air pollution.

“When we have taken measures ourselves to fund and choose a more sustainable travel choice, we are being prohibited rather than facilitated.

“We feel frustrated at what feels like lack of coherence in the direction of travel from the council.

“We would be very happy to work with the council to look at how to provide infrastructure for ourselves and others to be facilitated to make this choice.”

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The couple also have a petition signed by more than 50 people living in their street supporting their calls to be allowed to keep the planters.

A spokesperson for Bristol City Council said: “Claiming part of the public highway as private property by erecting fixtures in the street is against the law.

''We have a duty to investigate reports of such actions and where appropriate, ask that fixtures are removed and if needed, take enforcement action.

“The council can introduce fixtures to the highway where there is a benefit to the wider community to placing objects such as planters on a street as part of a planned programme of highways improvements.

''To do this we would go through a planning and engagement process to assess the impacts and community view. ''

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