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Government agency's demand for routing away from Birdcage Walk could mean no segregation on key section...

Cyclists using a key part of Boris Johnson’s flagship £47 million east-west Cycle Superhighway, currently under construction, could be left without physical segregation from motor vehicles due to opposition from The Royal Parks.

The government agency, which manages eight parks in the capital including Green Park, and St James’s Park, wants the planned route changed so it avoids Birdcage Walk and uses the Mall instead, reports the London Evening Standard’s Ross Lydall.

In its response to a consultation held by Transport for London (TfL) between 9 February and 29 March, Royal Parks chief executive, Linda Lennon said that for operational reasons including tree maintenance and access to a works yard, the route must avoid Birdcage Walk.

While Ms Lennon says the agency “supports the overall ambition” of the project, which will provide a segregated route from Tower Hill to the Westway, she insists that “technical, operational, safety and engineering challenges are still to be resolved”.

Citing concerns among Royal Parks staff regarding potential conflict with people on foot and animals, she added: “The Royal Parks reserves the right to re-site, reconfigure or remove these routes and infrastructure in future if the impact of the cycle routes lead to increased conflict, undermines safety or has a detrimental impact to the intrinsic qualities of other areas of the park.”

Alan Bristow, director of road space management at TfL, told the Standard: “We recently consulted on a segregated two-way cycle track on Birdcage Walk, providing cyclists travelling to and from Victoria with a route protected from vehicles.

“We will continue to work closely with the Royal Parks as we finalise detailed plans for the east-west route through St James’s Park.”

A spokesman for The Royal Parks insisted that routing the Cycle Superhighway along Horse Guards Road and The Mall was the better option, however.

In February, when TfL opened its consultation, it emerged that The Royal Parks was also opposing plans to route the Cycle Superhighway in front of Buckingham Palace, potentially creating a 300-metre gap.

At the time, the mayor’s cycling commissioner, Andrew Gilligan, said: “We have been working for months with the Royal Parks to resolve the problem of either a gap in the middle of the flagship route or a serious pedestrian-cyclist conflict at Constitution Hill. We very much hope we can still resolve this problem.”

Rosie Downes of the London Cycling Campaign said at the time: Rosie Downes, Campaigns Manager at London Cycling Campaign said:

“This is the Mayor’s flagship East-West cycle superhighway. It's had support from thousands, and hundreds of thousands of others have been looking forward to their promised high quality, segregated route from East to West London.

“To now suggest that this flagship cycle superhighway should have a 300 metre gap in it directly outside the iconic location of Buckingham Palace is frankly embarrassing.

“When you factor in the fact that cyclists will be expected to either share space with thousands of tourists, or share road space with six lanes of motor traffic, it becomes downright dangerous.”

In 2010, Mr Johnson proposed that responsibility for the Royal Parks Agency be devolved from Whitehall to his office; had that happened, the current uncertainty over the route of the Cycle Superhighway would not be an issue.

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.

10 comments

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jasecd [499 posts] 2 years ago
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Horrible example of Nimby-ism.

The roads around the palace are perfect for the Cycle Superhighway as they are some of the widest in London. The excuses of "operational reasons including tree maintenance and access to a works yard" are really poor - How often do these trees need maintaining? Obviously there are no junctions on the rest of the route.

Democracy in action...

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Beefy [381 posts] 2 years ago
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Royal Parks! WTF! Have I just been transported back 200 years! Surley Charly Windsor will want to intervene in this and argue for the rights of paupers using there bicycles.

Oh if only we were a repulblic with equality for all not just those born to the "right" people or should I say people on the right.

Makes me sick  31

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teaboy [307 posts] 2 years ago
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If trees are a genuine issue (they aren't), then remove them and replant elsewhere. After all, the only thing that does actually grow on trees is, er, trees.

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ibike [166 posts] 2 years ago
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Come on London! The rest of the country is relying on you to deliver the first proper Dutch-style segregated cycle route so that we point our local highways authorities at it and say "Build us one of those!"

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giff77 [1283 posts] 2 years ago
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Beefy wrote:

Royal Parks! WTF! Have I just been transported back 200 years! Surley Charly Windsor will want to intervene in this and argue for the rights of paupers using there bicycles.

Oh if only we were a repulblic with equality for all not just those born to the "right" people or should I say people on the right.

Makes me sick  31

Sadly even if we were a republic there would be sufficient jobsworths and pen pushers about to take all the fun out of life  7

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Brooess [85 posts] 2 years ago
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So long as the right turn from Birdcage to Horseguards is managed properly, this seems ok to me. I'm not sure how this would be a major issue - unless I'm missing something? The distance wouldn't be any further

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Slartibartfast87 [14 posts] 2 years ago
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It wouldn't be so bad if they wanted to excluded everyone but pedestrians. But happily accepting the urban motorway going past the Palace but segregated bicycles would be a step too far is just stupidity.

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crazy-legs [942 posts] 2 years ago
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Early one Sunday morning, I was on a hire bike near Buckingham Palace needing to get to Mayfair so I ignored the No Cycling marks and nipped up the side path right on the edge of Green Park. No-one around, dead early.

Next thing, tearing across the Park to cut me off was a Parks van. He was caning it, aiming at the corner of the Park where my path met. I managed to duck off down an alleyway but his massively disproportionate response of ragging a van through the Park at 30+mph to catch one person bimbling harmlessly along a deserted path on a bike was quite scary.

Same way they treat cyclists in Richmond Park, the view that cyclists are the devil incarnate.

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goggy [157 posts] 2 years ago
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While their excuses are poor, I kind of agree that the Mall is a better option for that section of the road. The real issue is how it subsequently intersects with Whitehall. Does the route continue along the Embankment or the Strand? It means routing through Trafalgar Square or Parliament Square, and the better of two evils has to be Parliament Square (I cycle both randomly on my commute and Trafalgar Square is hell on earth in it's current format, while Parliament Square is fine as long as you hold the dominant position in your lane through it.  105

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Jem PT [150 posts] 1 year ago
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I commute on Birdcage Walk and Spur Road, so I'm glad to see that sense has prevailed.