UPDATED: Safety concerns raised about new bike rack in Sleaford main street - but council says it is safe
The bike rack, placed today (Wednesday) in a loading bay outside Timpson’s on Southgate is in the shape of the green outline of a car with dark grey metal bars as the racks.
It is part of a £15,000 pilot scheme unveiled by North Kesteven District Council to brighten up the town with new street furniture and also includes three large planters with seating in the Market Place and more cube seating and planters in bright colours in Riverside Precinct.
The items are designed to be movable and the council is inviting feedback on where would be the best locations for them.
However, independent District Councillor Mark Suffield said he has reported the cycle rack to the county highways department as a traffic hazard.
He said: “I saw the planters and thought I could live with that. But as soon as I saw the bike rack I felt it was an accident waiting to happen. It is dangerous. If it was a skip it would need lights, reflectors, a skip licence and your name and contact details on it.”
The rack has even received a supposedly fake parking ticket which has been posted on Facebook.
Coun Suffield added: “I have contacted highways and they knew nothing about it. It doesn’t need planning permission as it is only going to be in position for 28 days, but why the hell have they spent all this money on something that is only going to be there for 28 days?”
He said delivery lorries coming to Iceland would have trouble negotiating past it and he feared a scooter overtaking traffic in the dark could run straight into it due to its alleged lack of visibility.
A Lincolnshire County Council highways spokesman confirmed their wardens had not ticketed it, as they can only ticket vehicles registered as a motor vehicle with the DVLA.
The local highways manager said: “The district council applied for all the necessary permissions prior to installing the new cycle rack. The loading bay restrictions have been temporarily suspended and they have been issued with a licence for placing the structure on the highway. In addition, they have carried out the relevant risk assessments to ensure the rack doesn’t present any safety issues.”
However, a trader on Southgate warned that often emergency services vehicles use the loading bay to overtake traffic queues and suggested that there was no need when there were racks behind Boots and near Handley Monument.
She did like the planters in the Market Place as she would prefer that area not to be full of cars.
Wendy Hanslip of Bellissimo Boutique in the Market Place said the planters there were not in keeping with the conservation area. She said: “They could have been more classy. These would be better off near the Hub where it looks more modern.
“I can understand the idea but the setting is wrong.”
She added that the benches ought to not face the cars as it could be dangerous for people sitting there. Temporary barriers have had to be placed in between the planters after motorists started parking in between them.
Lana Parks, who works at Dee’s Gifts in Riverside Precinct liked the new seating there, saying: “It is different. They might attract more people over here as we need more stuff like that in this empty area.”
Andrew McDonough, Economy and Place Director at NKDC, said: “The pop up public realm has certainly been a talking point in Sleaford this week, and all constructive feedback on the project is welcome.
“It’s part of a wider strategy to help with the regeneration of the town, making it a more attractive place to live, work and visit.
“People have, for a long time, wanted to see improvements made in the town centre and it’s something we’ve been working on as part of Sleaford Regeneration Group, made up of businesses and organisations with a shared vision of achieving the best for the town.
“Pop-up public realm has been trialled and worked in other places, creating a buzz and getting people talking.
“The current designs have been chosen to stand out, to get people talking and to generate comments that will then be used to shape what happens next. They are designed to be temporary installations, and can easily be moved and sited to other locations across the town. The important thing is for residents and businesses to become engaged and contribute ideas of what works and what doesn’t.
“We’re also working with another council to share their public realm items as well, so that we can keep the street scene changing but for low cost.
“The council and the wider Sleaford Regeneration Group are committed to improving the town, its vibrancy and making it somewhere people enjoy visiting.”
Previously, NKDC had told The Standard that the work fits in with the Sleaford Masterplan, which identified a need to focus on public realm improvements within the town to create better links for pedestrians and improved settings for key attractions and heritage assets.
The council said the items currently bought are purposely low cost to ensure the trial is a success before significant sums could be invested in any permanent installations.
Leader of the council Coun Richard Wright said: “Good public realm is proven to have a positive impact on the local economy – the environment improves the vitality of the town centre.
“We hope people enjoy using the new seats and bicycle rack, and we really want their opinions on it, where they’d like to see it next and what else they’d like to see in Sleaford.”
To have your say on where the pop up public realm should move to next, keep an eye on NKDC’s Facebook and Twitter accounts. Townspeople are asked to use #PopUpSleaford in their feedback.