The Royal Parks will start a “managed re-introduction” of cyclists to London’s Richmond Park from June 2.
It follows a long-standing suspension of cycling in the popular London riding spot during the coronavirus lockdown, with cyclists initially banned from park at the end of March.
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There will be restrictions on when cyclists can use the park however, including times they can enter and roads that can be used.
From Tuesday, cyclists will be permitted to ride in the park on weekdays only before 10am and after 4pm. This is to provide access for weekday commuters, Royal Parks said. Key workers will continue to be allowed to commute at any time during park opening hours.
Children under the age of 12 will also be able to ride in the park at any point during opening hours with immediate family allowed to ride with them.
Along with the timing restrictions, the park will also close certain sections of roads to adults cyclists at all times. Roads to the eastern side of the park including the road between Roehampton Gate and Robin Hood Gate, Broomfield Hill to Kingston Gate and the road to Sheen Gate will all be closed to adult cyclists.
The Royal Parks said this temporary suspension is “in order to maintain safety and provide a safe area for children and families to play.”
Earlier in May, a Freedom of Information request (FOI) from a London Cycling Campaign (LCC) member to the Royal Parks over why the park was closed to cyclists revealed that park staff had witnessed cyclists using their phones, riding at excessive speeds and a large increase in numbers, prior to the cycling ban during the coronavirus lockdown.
Royal Parks had initially said the decision had been taken because cyclists were not adhering to social distancing rules.
With lockdown measures nationwide easing again on Monday, the park has now decided to make a limited reopening.
However LCC borough coordinator for Richmond, Tim Lennon, told Cycling Weekly earlier this month that the initial decision to close the park to cyclists was the wrong one.
“We understand why the decision was taken, but we think it was the wrong one,” Mr Lennon said.
“If the problem were crowding at the gates, this could have been fixed with partial opening of gates, or one-way as used at Bushy Park. If the problem was people not being able to socially distance on bikes, we need some evidence of that: perhaps there were instances of this, but none of them justify the way the parks summarily banned cycling.”
While Mr Lennon said the Royal Parks’ comments on cyclists revealed in the FOI had been “perjorative and poorly formed” he did encourage cyclists using the park to follow rules and to “avoid chasing personal bests.”
“Can people on bikes do more? Yes, of course,” Mr Lennon said.
“For example, we would encourage those needing to time trial or to chase personal bests to avoid using the park right now and to follow the rules when they do use the park. But to close it to everyone because of the bad behaviour of a few is not the right decision.”
– This story was updated to clarify all cyclists are permitted in the park before 10am and after 4pm on weekdays, not between 10am and 4pm.