MP says Richmond Park ‘not a sports park’ and cyclists should be thoughtful

The Member of Parliament for the area Sarah Olney says some people are put off cycling by the behaviour of some riders

(Image credit: Getty Images)

The MP for Richmond Park says its “not a sports park” and that cyclists should be thoughtful. 

Sarah Olney, the Liberal Democrat Member of Parliament for Richmond Park, said she is frustrated that the behaviour of some cyclists is putting people off riding their bikes. 

The huge green space in West London is a hugely popular spot for the capital’s cyclists owing to its quieter roads and picturesque surroundings. 

But the topic of cycling safety in Richmond Park has been in the news since last year’s lockdown when park manage decided to ban cycling on the grounds due to concerns about crashes and the speeds riders were travelling at. 

While riders (and cars) have since returned to the park, Olney still has concerns about cyclists. 

In an interview with Radio Jackie (opens in new tab), she said: “I do find it frustrating that people are put off cycling by this type of behaviour and there’s no doubt it’s a hazard. 

“It’s a national nature reserve, not a sports park. I would implore cyclists to be thoughtful. They need to observe the Highway Code and they need to observe speed limits and they need to think about the impact of their behaviour on others.” 

Royal Parks, the charitable organisation that manages the popular green space, decided to stop cyclists using the park last year due to an increased number of riders, some who were using their phones, and people riding at excessive speeds. 

The decision to ban both cyclists and cars sparked a debate about whether motor vehicles should be allowed to travel through the park. 

As cyclists have returned over the last few weeks, they’ve been able to experience a car free space, prompting calls for motor vehicles to be permanently banned.

Park management are currently trialling a scheme that restricts all through traffic between the Broomfield Hill car park and the Robin Hood car park, and closes the motor vehicle link between Sheen Gate and Sheen Cross.

At weekends, through traffic is also restricted between the Roehampton, Sheen and Richmond Gates.

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But despite the restrictions, the park is routinely busy with drivers travelling to the car parks. 

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Alex Ballinger is editor of BikeBiz magazine, the leading publication for the UK cycle industry, and is the former digital news editor for CyclingWeekly.com. After gaining experience in local newsrooms, national newspapers and in digital journalism, Alex found his calling in cycling, first as a reporter, then as news editor responsible for Cycling Weekly's online news output, and now as the editor of BikeBiz. Since pro cycling first captured his heart during the 2010 Tour de France (specifically the Contador-Schleck battle) Alex covered three Tours de France, multiple editions of the Tour of Britain, and the World Championships, while both writing and video presenting for Cycling Weekly. He also specialises in fitness writing, often throwing himself into the deep end to help readers improve their own power numbers.  Away from the desk, Alex can be found racing time trials, riding BMX and mountain bikes, or exploring off-road on his gravel bike. He’s also an avid gamer, and can usually be found buried in an eclectic selection of books.