The Royal Parks Police has said that ‘dozens’ of cyclists are being stopped by officers in Richmond Park despite a ban on cycling being introduced last week.
Cycling in the west London park was banned from last Saturday after The Royal Parks authority said the volume of cyclists and lack of social distancing meant closing the park to bikes was the only way to “protect public safety and ultimately help keep this vital green space open for everyone” during the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.
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NHS and key workers with appropriate staff identification are still allowed to commute through the park by bicycle. Pedestrians are also still permitted to use the park.
On Tuesday, the Royal Parks Police posted a Tweet claiming many cyclists are still trying to use the park for exercise during the nationwide lockdown, saying officers had stopped “dozens” of riders.
The post also said that some of the cyclists had “travelled from the other side of London” and added that “this may be exercise, but this is not essential travel. Please exercise close to where you live.”
Recent coronavirus restrictions legislation says people may only leave their homes for certain reasons, including taking exercise. The legislation places no restriction over the type of exercise, the duration, nor where the exercise takes place. The government has urged people to “stay local” when taking exercise however.
Richmond Park is a hotspot for cyclists in the London area, with throngs of riders taking to the roads around the park, particularly at the weekends.
After initial social distancing mesaures were put in place by the UK government, the weekend of March 21/22 saw a surge in park users, including cyclists, walkers, runners, and drivers in their cars.
Cars were initially then stopped from entering the park, with cyclists threatened with the same ban if riders failed to adhere to social distancing and not ride in groups. The Royal Parks eventually chose to execute the ban with an announcement last Friday.
National governing body British Cycling and charitable organisation Cycling UK have both encouraged responsible cycling as a means of exercise during the pandemic lockdown as well as an essential method of transport. Bike shops are among those allowed to remain open as an essential service, providing maintenance to those particularly using bikes as a means to reach their places of key work.