Snooty Frox, an upscale mini-department store in a residential area on the outskirts of Harrogate, has a sign outside its premises advising customers that "Parking IS permitted in the cycle lane."
When challenged over this by Samantha Parker – @dales_girl on Twitter – a representative of Snooty Frox said such advice was perfectly legal and "this has been confirmed by Harrogate Council and North Yorkshire Police."
The cycle lane in question is marked with a dashed line so is not a mandatory cycle lane where motorists are not allowed to cross the white line. However, the Highway Code – referring to the Road Traffic Act, sections 5 and 8 –
says "Do not drive or park in a cycle lane marked by a broken white line unless it is unavoidable."
The definition of "unavoidable" is clearly open to interpretation. However, openly inviting customers to use a clearly marked cycle lane – even if it is a dashed one – is against the spirit of the Road Traffic Act.
POLICE & SHOP UPDATES BELOW:
North York police has issued a statement:
"If a cycle lane is marked by signs and a broken white line, you must not drive or park in the cycle lane unless it is unavoidable.
"Although there is no specific definition of avoidable and each case will be dealt with on an individual basis, motorists are asked to use their common sense and courtesy and bear in mind the safety of all road users. If a vehicle’s presence contributes to a collision or causes an obstruction they could be prosecuted.
"We understand that information passed to a shop owner on Hookstone Road by a Police Community Support Officer on 17 January 2014 was not clearly defined. However, this was rectified three days later by a local sergeant. We apologise for this lack of clarity and misunderstanding. However, the cycle lane was in operation several months prior to 17 January."
Snooty Frox have issued a press release via their Facebook page:
“We provide limited, off road, customer parking directly in front of the shop. Prior to the introduction of the cycle lane last year our customers also regularly used the roadside immediately in front of the shop to park during busy periods, and have done so during our 13 years of trading. We trade in an out of town location with no nearby large car parking facilities. Our customers, in the main, travel by car from all areas of the country and it is an essential element of the business that parking is available.
"It is unfortunate that this particular cycle lane was implemented without any consultation or consideration as to its impact on local business. We contacted and sought advice from both Harrogate Council and North Yorkshire Police to determine if it was an offence to park in the cycle lane. We were advised on both counts that it was not an offence as long as we were not causing an obstruction.
"This morning a North Yorkshire Police Spokesman has rung to apologise for the advice given referring us to section 140 of the Highway Code which states that ‘ ….do not drive or park in a cycle lane marked by a broken white line unless it is unavoidable….’ In view of this we will be advising our customers not to park in the cycle lane.
"We can only apologise if this has caused offence to anyone as this was never our intention. We do understand the issues surrounding the notice display and as a result of feedback we have now removed the sign.”