Using phones, excessive speeds and increased numbers among reasons cyclists banned from Richmond Park during lockdown

'Cyclists exercising hard inevitably cause a plume of exhalation in their  wake'

Staff at London’s Richmond Park witnessed cyclists using their phones, excessive speeds and an increase number of riders, prior to the cycling fan during the coronavirus lockdown.

In March Royal Parks, the charity responsible for managing the popular cycling location, announced the green space would be closed to cyclists with police stationed in the gates to keep people out.

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Initially Royal Parks said the decision had been taken because cyclists were not adhering to social distancing rules, but a Freedom of Information request has now revealed further details of the reason for the cycling ban.

London Cycling Campaign member David Williams requested more details from Royal Parks about the decision, which revealed that staff had witnessed a variety of incidents which resulted in the park’s closure to riders.

Royal Parks said: “Members of staff had reported a large increase in the number of cyclists, crowding at park gates, many instances where cyclists were not adhering to social distancing guidelines and were cycling at speed given there were no motor vehicles to slow them down thus presenting a danger to themselves, other park visitors and wildlife.”

Park staff reported seeing 1,072 cyclists travel through the Roehampton Gate entrance in a one-hour period, but did not clarify if that included the same cyclists leaving.

Riders were also clocked travelling at 34mph using a speed gun, while one member of staff witness a cyclist using a phone swerve into the path of another rider, causing both to crash into a verge.



In correspondence obtained through the FOI, park manager Simon Richards also said: “Cyclists exercising hard inevitably cause a plume of exhalation in their wake possibly endangering those behind them. Be good to get a medic to support this assumption on our part.

“The increase in cyclist volumes along with family groups, other wheeled activity and inexperienced road users frequently without protective clothing and some travelling at high speed significantly raises the likelihood of a severe accident at a time when the NHS can ill afford to be dealing with avoidable accidents.”

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Cycling is still banned in Richmond Park, with no indication from Royal Parks when it may be accessible to riders.