This is why all 202 of Chichester's bike racks have been replaced

It has since been repaired, but one of the racks in North Street quickly became loose.
It has since been repaired, but one of the racks in North Street quickly became loose.

Chichester City Council has explained why new-look cycle racks have been seen around the city, following concerns from residents that they 'make it easier for thieves'.

As a joint city council, district council and Chichester BID project, all 202 existing cycle racks in the city centre have been replaced with the same number of new stainless steel cycle racks.

The old, cemented-in bike rack.

The old, cemented-in bike rack.

The decision prompted backlash from cyclists and residents in the city, who fear the new racks can be easily unbolted.

Resident John O'Sullivan asked: "Is this a good use of our money, perfectly good cemented in bike racks removed and bolted down stainless ones in replacement?

"Surely there should be better use of our money. Is this to make it easier for thieves? Now all they need is a spanner or give them a few good kicks. I don't understand it."

Jonathan Fulford said he was 'irritated' when he saw the 'perfectly serviceable and functional cycle racks' being replaced.

The new bolted-down bike racks

The new bolted-down bike racks

He asked: "What was wrong with the old ones? My irritation moved to anger when I saw how they were attaching the new ones.

"Bolting them down so they could easily be unbolted and bicycles stolen. I don't believe the racks are as secure as the old ones. Many of them have a little wobble on them already. They could very easily be pushed over if you were focused enough."

Another cyclist, who asked to remain anonymous, shared a similar view. He said: "Chichester's bike racks have unnecessarily been replaced, when pavements remain dangerous, with bike racks that seemingly look very easy to unbolt."

Stephanie Carn sent in a picture of the racks in North Street, with the message; 'Bolts already loose!'.

Explaining why the racks were replaced, Chichester City Council said it was to put an end to 'verbal abuse' directed towards the council property manager's team, whilst they refurbished the former racks.

A spokesman for the city council said: "The last time the city council’s property manager and his team painted the cycle racks, they were subject to verbal abuse and threats of physical violence from users, who were trying to lock their bike up to racks being painted as opposed to finding an alternative nearby whilst work was in progress.

"So the maintenance free aspect will reduce that totally unacceptable situation."

Commenting on concerns that the racks can be easily unbolted, the spokesman continued: "If anyone is determined enough to steal anything then they probably will.

"Even the former cemented in racks could be removed quickly enough with angle grinders."

The spokesman said there will be 'no reduction in provision of cycle parking'.

He added: "We are also looking at additional locations for cycle racks in order to increase the provision and happy to receive ideas.

"This is part of a wider project to improve the appearance of the streetscape and in the medium to long term is more cost effective than repainting the existing cycle racks."

It was also explained that the racks were funded by the Community Infrastructure Levy (CIL), i.e. contributions from developers for new development schemes received by the district council and then allocated accordingly to the parishes.

"The city council will be receiving more CIL funds as development is implemented and city councillors will be glad to receive suggestions about where it might be allocated," the spokesman said.

"Our contractor, Crown Civil Engineering, has advised me that the benefits for having this type of rack installed outweigh the lack of benefits for going root fixed.

"If at any time the bike racks are driven into or damaged and bent then it’s a reasonably simple case of removal and reinstall making it a very cost effective exercise.

"Again, if there are layout changes or development of any areas the racks are installed the removal and relocating without any damage is also a far more simple exercise."

Green Party councillor and co-ordinator of ChiCyle, Sarah Sharp said she 'voted against replacing the racks'.

Explaining why, she said: "The cost came out of community infrastructure funds which I believe should be used to provide something new for the community in compensation for the houses being built around Chichester.

"People aren't safe walking on the pavements or cycling into the city. The Community Infrastructure Levy should be spent addressing that; making the journeys safer for people walking and on bikes.

"We need to prioritise safety over and above cosmetic changes in my view."