London's Richmond Park car numbers permanently slashed

Bushy and Greenwich Parks also see trial traffic reduction measures continue

Richmond Park
(Image credit: Getty Images)

Car numbers in Richmond Park will be permanently slashed after traffic reduction measures introduced in three London parks over the pandemic have been made permanent.

Richmond, Bushy and Greenwich Parks all had parts closed to traffic from Augusut 2020, and the Royal Parks charity has said that this would continue on a permanent basis, it was announced on Tuesday.

All three are popular with cyclists, with Richmond Park in particular a home for riding in London - the Tour de Richmond Park segment on Strava has been ridden more than four million times.

The news was praised by the London Cycling Campaign, although they also said "bolder" and more "rapid" action was needed.

During lockdown, the Royal Parks made the decision to ban cyclists from Richmond Park, ostensibly because of social distancing, a measure which was highly criticised.

Last year, a machete-clad moped gang robbing bikes made national news, especially after British pro Alex Richardson was left bloodied, driven into at 60km/h and relieved of his custom S-Works bike.

The permanent traffic reduction measures in the three parks follow a two-year trial, a comprehensive park visitor engagement exercise and a detailed traffic analysis, monitoring and evaluation programme.

The measures made permanent are:

- In Richmond Park, there will be a restriction on all through-traffic between Broomfield Hill Car Park and Robin Hood Car Park and a permanent closure of the vehicle link between Sheen Gate and Sheen Cross. Additionally, at weekends and public holidays, all cut-through traffic will be restricted between Roehampton and Richmond Gates.

- In Bushy Park, Chestnut Avenue will remain closed to vehicle traffic between Teddington and Hampton Court Gates.

- In Greenwich Park, The Avenue will remain closed to vehicle traffic.

Furthermore, trial traffic reduction measures are to continue in St James’s Park and The Green Park, while data is further analysed, while the trial will continue in Hyde Park while the Royal Parks awaits a decision from Transport for London regarding the cycle lane on Park Lane, which has currently forced the full-time closure of South Carriage Drive.

Tom Jarvis, the director of parks at the charity said in a press release: “As custodians of some of London’s finest green spaces, we’re delighted to announce that the successful trials to reduce cut-through traffic in our outer parks will be made permanent. The decision is a key part of ensuring The Royal Parks is delivering on its charitable objects.

“We’d like to thank all those who have been involved in the project since it was launched in July 2020, particularly those who responded to our public consultations.

“We’re looking forward to engaging with our stakeholders and the local communities to see how we may repurpose the spaces available, now that certain roads are closed permanently to vehicles.”

While more than two thirds of respondents to the Richmond Park consultation approved of the measures being made permanent, concerns over cyclists were raised.

Two respondents are quoted as criticising the actions of cyclists in the Royal Parks' report.

“The cyclists are now dangerous in packs and way above the speed limit. No consideration for pedestrians. This needs to be addressed as there will be a fatality,” one person wrote.

Another said: “Restricting the movement of cars is a good idea -but it leaves cyclists free to whizz around the Park in ever greater numbers-frequently at dangerous speeds and with little regard for pedestrians--including children.”

The London Cycling Campaign welcomed the news, but said more needed to be done.

"It is great news that the Royal Parks has made these measures permanent, but in a climate crisis, we do need them to do more and quicker," Simon Munk, campaigns manager for the LCC, said. "They need to remove all through motor traffic from Richmond Park, so it’s not used as a relief road for the A307. And they must move far more rapidly to remove through motor traffic from Regent’s Park and Hyde Park. 

"These green spaces should be London’s lungs, not ratruns. These parks are already suffering significant impacts relating to climate change and indeed the noise, pollution, road danger and emissions caused by enabling motor traffic in the parks. Yet The Royal Parks don’t seem to have quite grasped the urgency for bolder, more rapid action."

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