Paul Harness was fined £400 and was ordered to pay £220 in costs after being clocked riding at 38mph in Richmond Park

A cyclist has hit out out police for ‘hiding behind trees’ after he was caught riding at 38mph in Richmond Park and fined £400 in court.

Paul Harness, 40, was clocked by a speed camera on the descent of Sawyer’s Hill in the park in South London in January and appeared before Lavender Hill Magistrate’s Court last week.

Despite denying charges of speeding and riding without due care and attention, Harness was found guilty by the court and was fined £400, and was ordered to pay £220 in costs.

>>> Public meeting held to discuss ways to end conflict between cyclists and drivers in Richmond Park

The day after his hearing, he posted a message on Facebook hitting out at the officer who caught him speeding.

He wrote: “Got spotted by the cops overtaking on the outside at about 27 mph and going back to the inside to go around a car turning right,this time I did not get caught by his speed gun did not get done for speeding @38mph and cycling without due care and attention did not have to plead not guilty in front of the magistrate did not have to listen to a cop who calibrates his speed gun every day and hides behind a tree in Richmond park hammering me in front of the court,what a sad case he is!

“The amount of money it must cost to pay a magistrate and have a court case I’m sure the £620 fine I received does not even come close to covering it!”

>>> This is how you can tell you’ve become addicted to riding in Richmond Park

In March, Rory Palmer was fined £65 by Wimbledon Magistrate’s after being caught overtaking cars at 41mph in the park.

  • llos25

    Thankyou for making the point a lot clearer.

  • James Etheridge

    Cyclists cannot be caught speeding on public roads, as we are not considered ‘motor vehicles’. Unfortunately the law is different inside Royal Parks but there is nothing to warn cyclists of this.

  • Ross

    Cite for that? AFAIK all road users regardless of if their vehicle (a bike is a vehicle) has a motor or not need to abide by the road rules.

  • Stevo
  • And the law says a bike is not a motor vehicle and hence the speed limit doesn’t apply. The court unfortunately got this one wrong… even if what he was doing was a bit silly.

  • phil

    There are often police warning signs on Sawyers’s Hill. I saw them today, One says something like Dangerous Bend Cyclists Beware. The other says Police Speed Check Area.

  • Stevo

    How do motorists know how much they’ve had to drink? They don’t have approved breathalysers fitted by law in their vehicles. They can still be prosecuted for driving over the limit though.

  • ummm…

    Here in nyc we have Central Park, which basically serves the same purposes. Last year two pedestrians were struck and killed in CP by cyclists. That brought the total city wide since 2000 tc 10 pedestrians killed after a cycling crash. Cars do not follow the speed limit, pedestrians which have 99.9999% of the square footage in the park still manage to find themselves in the one 6 mile bike lane loop. It is difficult to justify 38 mph if it is not in the early morning or late night, but I do understand the need for the exercise cyclist to put the power down. Outside of central park we have to either go to prospect park in brooklyn (another heavily policed and populate loop) or out of the city/another state. I’ve never injured myself or another in years of cycling in nyc, however I’ve gotten plenty of tickets; I feel as if there is something off about that.

  • Andrew Bairsto

    How did the cyclist know how fast he was going,because bicycles do not have a ministry approved speedometer fitted by law I do not see how he can be prosecuted for speeding, dangerous riding possible.

  • Jay

    Just add a speed bump will solve it

  • Ross

    The law is the law and everbody needs to obey it regardless of what mode of transport they are using and whether they think it is harmless or safe to exceed the speed limit. If people think the speed limit is unjust then they can lobby the authorities with good reasons as to why it should be changed.

  • Stevo

    They certainly seem to prefer stopping cyclists to cars. It probably takes less effort to stop a cyclist.

  • Stevo

    There aren’t really any bends though. The only thing you are likely to hit is a deer. Or some clown in an SUV who, having gone way over the speed limit to pass you, slams his/her brakes on immediately after pulling in about 1 metre ahead of you.

  • Speed limit is 20mph. It’s can seem frustrating to be so low as every cyclist in London goes there to train. But I reckon rarely if ever would they give a ticket to someone who sneaks over the limit. There are over 21,000 individual cyclist results on strava for a lap of the place! Over 4000 riders have recorded a pace of over 20mph for the entire lap, and that’s with some significant, if short, climbs. So with the descents, like Sawyers Hill descent; well really it’d be unsafe often to go below 25mph as all traffic on the road is going at least that fast on the section. That said, you have to look at the conditions and it’s probably going to be frowned on by the police if you scream down Sawyer’s at 38mph while passing vehicles!

    It’s really one of the few safe places to ride with virtually no stops save the traffic at a few mini roundabouts. You get a full 6.7mile training loop with some exciting flow. Richmond park is also just a lovely place to be!

    Granted a speed limit was needed as at rush hours or on crowded weekends it can easily get out of hand. That said, I don’t know if I’ve ever seen a car sticking below the 20mph limit either. I suppose that limit does help keep everyone below 30mph though, if that makes sense. It is a reminder to all to basically keep it in check.

    The park is closed to cars at night but cyclists and pedestrians can still use it. A huge percentage of users are commuting and not training. Some are doing both.

    I doubt the police are enforcing the speed limit when it’s not a safety issue. Conditions permitting I don’t see a problem with going full blast. I know they allow a couple of early morning time trials put on by a local organization. It’d be nice for the training cyclists if they could close it sometimes during the daylight, like a Sunday morning. But thousands of people use the park, and even at the darkest hours there are safety issues including the herds of deer that roam freely.

    Like everything it just comes down to being sensible and considerate of others. You can get a great workout in even if you can’t blast the KOM every ride. I also enjoy the surrounding Tamsin dirt trail outside of the road loop. It’s 7.4 miles and just lovely. I’d often use that for my commute even though it is slower than the road, as you can avoid all the cars entirely. It was originally built as a cycling trail but was immediately embraced by all the other pedestrians, from joggers to dog walkers to family going for a ride or a stroll. It has a 10mph limit but again, really just about being sensible and considerate.

    There is no doubt that UK’s success in cycling has been helped in a small way by Richmond Park. Probably most of the top riders have ridden it at one time or another and I bet more than one used it as vital training ground in their formative seasons. I can attest that it’s been incredibly helpful to me.

  • ummm…

    whats the speed limit?

  • J1

    He was trying to get a KOM though, the most important thing in the world!

    I’m sure the police also caught a lot more motorists around Richmond park in that same week.

  • brooess

    He has a point IMO. Yes he was travelling fast which could have put him and others in danger but from perspective point of view, there is far more dangerous behaviour on the roads going unpunished on a constant basis. The key question is why the Police are targeting cyclists in the Park rather than drivers on all the roads around it – it’s very clear where the biggest danger to the community comes from…

  • Craigy

    Good! Whilst I doubt the Officer was actually hiding, I think a more discreet approach should be taken sometimes. That guy will be riding, wondering whether or not a Police Officer is in waiting with a speed gun around the next corner and will reduce his speed. Therefore, from the Officer’s perspective…Job Done!

  • TrevorHoldsworth

    Common sense should prevail here. A policeman hiding behind a tree is better than the Grim Reaper hiding behind the next bend.