Chris and I are walkers. We bought our retirement flat in a place where all the main amenities would be within walking distance. Chris doesn’t cycle at all and the difficulties of Bristol’s primitive road network have put her off any idea of becoming a COTTA (Cyclist Of The Third Age).
Not that walking is straightforward, of course. Her main route to the larger shops takes her along a narrow pavement that has had a locked-up bicycle impeding a tight corner for most of this University year.
That’s not her, by the way. You might be able to imagine how awkward this corner would be if you were carrying two shopping bags, especially if you hadn’t expected a bike to be there. We talked about telling the owner, with a polite note that the bike was a bit of a hazard at that particular place. Look at it from round the corner:
Even standing well out into the road, the bike is only just visible. Walking along the pavement it is invisible right up to the last few inches. Check the situation from this angle too:
It’s not good is it? However, life is short, we have learned to live with it and there are more pressing issues than inconsiderate cycle parking. We did nothing about it and walk in the road.
This morning however, there was a DEVELOPMENT.
Someone had attached a notice of some kind. Bristol City Council, it seemed, were taking ACTION! And judging by the wording on the notice, DRASTIC ACTION was imminent.
The bicycle is in such a condition that “it ought to be destroyed” and that if not moved within 24 hours, will be destroyed.
There could well be a joker at work here. Students are a humorous lot and what japes they occasionally spring on each other. But the notice looks, at least, like a very good forgery. I took the liberty of examining the obscured part of the notice.
I also thought (more seriously) about the hundreds of other obstructions left cluttering up pavements, crossings and junctions all over Bristol, day in and day out. They are so ubiquitous and so taken-for-granted that complaints are rare and actions even rarer. Look just round the corner from the poor beleaguered bicycle.
If I have a point here it is that when we leave a vehicle out in a public place consideration for others is worth thinking about. There is no specific right to put your bike, car, lorry or tank wherever you like and both collectively and individually we ought to take a lot more care than we do. In particular, Bristol City Council and its Officers could be more systematic about balancing the selfish urge to leave things wherever it suits us and the collective need to have highways, byways and footpaths free for people of all degrees or modes of mobility to move along. Geese, ganders, drivers, walkers, cyclists, disabled or otherwise: we all deserve a fair share of sauce.