Local cycling campaigners in South East London are celebrating the success of a campaign to reduce the speed limit in Greenwich Park from 30mph to 20mph, and are now seeking the help of their local MP to ensure that the necessary legislation can be passed before the forthcoming General Election.
Anthony Austin of Greenwich Cyclists, the local group affiliated to London Cycle Campaign (LCC), told the LCC newsletter: “We’ve campaigned for years for this change, more intensively since a motorist pleaded guilty to causing the death of a cyclist by dangerous driving in June 2007.”
Margaret Hodge, Minister for Culture and Tourism Management, whose department is responsible for the Royal Parks, said that she had reached her decision after taking into account the views of all stakeholders, as well as the responses to a public consultation that had been carried out on the proposals.
Mr Austin added that Greenwich Cyclists’ long-term aim is to remove all traffic from the park, an aim it outlined in a recent Cycle Route Inspection Meeting (CRIM) held by the Royal Parks.
As well as car parking for people wishing to enjoy the park’s facilities such as the Royal Observatory and the neary National Maritime Museum, the park provides a through route from Blackheath into Greenwich town centre, but alternative routes are available within just a few hundred yards in the shape of Crooms Hill, which borders the park to the west, and Maze Hill to the east.
As a Royal Park, Greenwich Park is governed by an Act of Parliament which will need to be amended for the reduced speed limit to come into effect, and local MP Nick Rainsford has been approached to see if he can help expedite the legislation to avoid delays as a result of this year’s General Election. Within 18 months of the new limit being put in place, research will be conducted to gauge its effect.
There are hopes that the speed limit can be reduced further still to 12mph, as is the case in Battersea Park, although that is not one of the Royal Parks, with Tom Crispin, Leader of Lewisham and Greenwich Young Cyclists, proposing that such a limit be adopted in Greenwich Park as an interim measure, as well as imposing a ban on motorised through traffic.
“It's absurd that a recreational area, like the Park, can be used as a rush hour rat-run,” he explained. “However, a 20mph speed limit is a step in the right direction and is very welcome. I hope the regulation that allows children under 11 to cycle anywhere in the Park (other than the Flower Garden, Rose Garden and playground) is amended to include accompanying adults,” he contiunued.
Cycling in Greenwich Park is currently allowed on Blackheath Avenue, The Avenue and Great Cross Avenue, but is banned on Bower Avenue, and Mr Crispin said, "I also hope that the absurd ban on cycling along Bower Avenue is lifted."
One unintended consequence of the reduced speed limit, however, could be catching out unwary cyclists descending The Avenue, whether as part of a commute that takes them from Blackheath through Greenwich, or those who use the park for training at the weekend, climbing up to Blackheath then riding back down to Greenwich to begin the circuit again, who will hit speeds well in excess of 20mph on their way down.
Born in Scotland, Simon moved to London aged seven and now lives in the Oxfordshire Cotswolds with his miniature schnauzer, Elodie. He fell in love with cycling one Saturday morning in 1994 while living in Italy when Milan-San Remo went past his front door. A daily cycle commuter in London back before riding to work started to boom, he's been news editor at road.cc since 2009. Handily for work, he speaks French and Italian. He doesn't get to ride his Colnago as often as he'd like, and freely admits he's much more adept at cooking than fettling with bikes.