Zac Goldsmith MP chairs a discussion about ways to make cycling and walking around Richmond Park safer and more enjoyable

Richmond Park MP Zac Goldsmith chaired a public meeting last night (December 17) to discuss how to end the growing conflict between cyclists and motorists in the park.

On Saturday mornings, cyclists can make up over 70% of the park’s traffic, with a number of different cycling clubs using the picturesque setting for training.

But concerns have grown over ‘packs’ of cyclists taking up the road, and speeding drivers endangering both riders and pedestrians – problems that are hard to curb within the Royal Parks.

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Richmond Cycling Campaign’s Tim Lennon told Cycling Weekly: It’s all private land, so policing in the Royal Parks is different to policing outside.

“One thing that came up [in the meeting] was that the police have very few ways of dealing with speeding cyclists other than issuing a written warning or taking them to court, and it’s a bit drastic to take a cyclist to court.”

Figures released in the meeting show that 126 speeding tickets have been issued to cars since April, with one driver clocked at 56mph – 36mph above the park’s limit – while 30 cyclists have been issued written warnings for going too fast.

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While no solutions were agreed upon at the meeting, several ideas to reduce the traffic in the park were raised by attendees, many of whom were concerned about motorists using Richmond Park as a cut-through, rather than using the busy surrounding roads.

“The key thing from our point of view was that there was a lot of talk about there being too much traffic in the park,” Lennon continued. “The biggest rounds of applause came when people suggested stopping drivers rat running.

“There were a number of ideas discussed about how to lower the levels of motor traffic – one idea was to extend the period in which the park is closed to cars, which currently is during the hours of darkness.

“There was another idea, which has been around for a while, about making cars go one way around the park and cyclists go round the other way.

“To be honest that’s a bit rubbish because it doesn’t reflect the idea that the purpose of the roads is for people to get somewhere in the park.”

  • rititiitti

    I would have thought that, if such a restriction were to be introduced, it would make more sense simply to implement a one-way system, with all traffic travelling the same direction. Such an arrangement would avoid the significant risk of car-bike head-on collisions that is a feature of the original proposal. It would also allow cyclists to ride fast (on the right, with the cars) and motorists to drive slowly (on left, with slower bike traffic).

  • rititiitti

    No it isn’t. The answer is for people to observe the speed limit and show some consideration for other road users.

  • WoollyMindedLiberal

    A lot of old dears report that they are frightened when they drive down the hills in Richmond Park and get overtaken by cyclists which is a new phenomena and scares them. Clearly the answer is a “crawler lane” down the hills for motorists and a fast lane for cyclists.

  • Jez F

    I’m also with Richard on this one.

    A. I find it unlikely that the majority of Park users have a fixed destination other than green space.

    B. Similarly I doubt most users are particularly attached to any given car park. If this is the case then people can freely access any Park entrance to minimise their journey, as Richard mentioned.

    C. I doubt distance of journey concerns most motorists, rather duration and as such ‘considerably longer journeys’ probably still correlate with shorter travel times in a one-way system due to increased traffic flow.

    D. The park is intended for everyone to enjoy, as you say, as such I feel generating a degree of order from the current car/cyclist/pedestrian melee will only encourage those potential users who are put off by this.

  • I’m with Richard on this one – A one way system would deter a lot of cut through traffic (esp up Sawyers Hill). If there are tensions between cars and cyclists in the park, then it’s probably worth questioning the motives of the motorists for being in the park before questioning the pack behaviour of cyclists on a Saturday morning. I’d like to think that anyone in a car isn’t a park user until they get out of their car.

  • Richard May

    Will do. Best,

  • Tim Lennon

    Richard, do drop me a line – would be good to have you join the discussion.

  • Richard May

    Noted. In which case one can use another gate, or the cycle path, to minimise the journey.
    We understand the genesis of your proposals. We do not, however, agree with them.
    Happy to discuss whenever suits.

  • Tim Lennon

    Richard, the one way suggestion imposes considerably longer journeys through the park for people who want to go to a given location in the park. Whichever way you go, at least one car park would be unreachable by its nearest gate, turning journeys for those people from 500m to over 7km, just to be able to enjoy the park.

    Further, you forget that the park is intended for everyone to enjoy, and it is hardly going to get more people coming to cycle to the park if the emphasis is on provision solely to satisfy road cycling. We worked closely with London Dynamo, TCC, Kingston Wheelers and others to put together our proposals, and we were agreed that the one way idea is not a workable solution.

  • Richard May

    I attended the meeting.
    As the Chairman of Islington Cycling Club I respectfully disagree with Mr Lennon’s comment about the merits of a one way system, with cyclists riding in one direction and motorists the other. We strongly favour the introduction of such a system at weekends, when the challenges and tensions are greatest.
    If such a system were limited to weekends this would address the concern raised by Zac Goldsmith at the meeting, and by Mr Lennon in the article, about the potential increase in journey length. Both drivers and cyclists could of course continue to use Richmond Park for their weekly commute without interruption. At the weekends the vast majority of road cyclists in Richmond Park are there to ride laps so imposing a one way system would not increase their journey. As regards those motorists who currently use Richmond Park as a cut-through at weekends the impact on them would not be disproportionate given that using Richmond Park at that time and manner should, in our view, be deterred in any event.
    Compared with many of the other ideas which were discussed at the meeting such a solution would be proportionate, tailored and cost effective. It therefore merits proper consideration rather than thoughtless dismissal.

  • ‘Packs’ of cyclists? They sound horrible. They must be stopped!