Home
Questionable whether speed limits in London’s Royal Parks actually apply to cyclists

A cyclist was fined £200 after being clocked by a speed gun at 38mph while riding in Richmond Park. This is despite the fact that a Royal Parks spokesman has previous said that speed limits in the places it manages don't apply to cyclists.

Paul Harness was riding down Sawyers Hill on January 11 when he was stopped by a police officer who had been parked behind a tree with a speed gun.

Harness says he was charged with speeding and driving without due care on a bicycle. When he subsequently appeared at Lavender Hill Magistrates on October 10, he was fined £200 for each offence, plus £200 court cost and a £20 victim surcharge.

Harness told road.cc that he pleaded not guilty in the belief that the speed gun was not designed to work on cyclists and that he did not by law need a speed measuring device on his bike.

“I thought the whole affair was a waste of time and money and the policeman was way over the top and the judge would think the whole thing ridiculous. There were crimes going on all around Richmond that day and this fella was hiding behind a tree with a speed gun and I was having a Sunday cycle going down Sawyers Hill.”

As we reported in 2013, there is a large degree of doubt about whether speeding restrictions in London’s Royal Parks actually apply to cyclists. At the time, we concluded that that anyone issued a fine for doing so might have grounds for challenging it.

Indeed in 2014, Royal Parks told Radio 2 presenter Jeremy Vine that there is no speed limit for cyclists in Hyde Park and, by extension, any of the other 10 parks or open spaces it manages in London. However, none of this seems to have prevented cyclists from being charged.

In March, Rory Palmer was fined for riding his bike at 41mph in Richmond Park on January 2 – again on Sawyers Hill. After pleading guilty to breaking the park’s speed limit of 20mph, magistrates fined him £65 plus a £20 surcharge and he was also ordered to pay prosecution costs of £65.

Alex has written for more cricket publications than the rest of the road.cc team combined. Despite the apparent evidence of this picture, he doesn't especially like cake.

44 comments

Avatar
rliu [118 posts] 2 years ago
7 likes
levermonkey wrote:

38mph in a public park? This would certainly come under the old charge of 'Furious Pedaling' if not being 'Reckless' bordering on 'Dangerous'.

What was this idiot thinking? If he was thinking at all! Not big, not clever and not intelligent!

The only thing that can be argued about is the proportionality of the penalty.

You have evidently never been to Richmond Park, there is an outer perimeter road round the park which is almost wholly devoid of pedestrians and is used by bikes and cars almost exclusively. Due to a long gently sloping downward gradient, it really isn't very difficult to reach 30mph+

Avatar
levermonkey [682 posts] 2 years ago
1 like

38mph through a public park with a 20mph speed limit? This would certainly come under the old charge of 'Furious Pedaling' if not being 'Reckless' bordering on 'Dangerous'.

What was this idiot thinking? If he was thinking at all! Not big, not clever and not intelligent!

The only thing that can be argued about is the proportionality of the penalty.

Avatar
levermonkey [682 posts] 2 years ago
1 like
rliu wrote:
levermonkey wrote:

38mph in a public park? This would certainly come under the old charge of 'Furious Pedaling' if not being 'Reckless' bordering on 'Dangerous'.

What was this idiot thinking? If he was thinking at all! Not big, not clever and not intelligent!

The only thing that can be argued about is the proportionality of the penalty.

You have evidently never been to Richmond Park, there is an outer perimeter road round the park which is almost wholly devoid of pedestrians and is used by bikes and cars almost exclusively. Due to a long gently sloping downward gradient, it really isn't very difficult to reach 30mph+

Yes I have been to Richmond Park, many times in fact and I do know Sawyers Hill, and I do know that you can build up quite a speed. But ... just because you can does not mean that you should!

I could cycle past my local infants school at 40mph+ (the road has a good slope and gravity loves me!) even though the posted speed limit is 20mph. Does that mean that I should? And what if I did it at a time when children are going to or from the school? As I said - just because you can does not mean that you should.

Avatar
OldRidgeback [2813 posts] 2 years ago
6 likes
levermonkey wrote:
rliu wrote:
levermonkey wrote:

38mph in a public park? This would certainly come under the old charge of 'Furious Pedaling' if not being 'Reckless' bordering on 'Dangerous'.

What was this idiot thinking? If he was thinking at all! Not big, not clever and not intelligent!

The only thing that can be argued about is the proportionality of the penalty.

You have evidently never been to Richmond Park, there is an outer perimeter road round the park which is almost wholly devoid of pedestrians and is used by bikes and cars almost exclusively. Due to a long gently sloping downward gradient, it really isn't very difficult to reach 30mph+

Yes I have been to Richmond Park, many times in fact and I do know Sawyers Hill, and I do know that you can build up quite a speed. But ... just because you can does not mean that you should!

I could cycle past my local infants school at 40mph+ (the road has a good slope and gravity loves me!) even though the posted speed limit is 20mph. Does that mean that I should? And what if I did it at a time when children are going to or from the school? As I said - just because you can does not mean that you should.

 

Err, I've done big speeds down there in the past, before all this fuss started about speeding. Technically cyclists cannot be fined for speeding as a bicycle is not required to have a speed measuring device by law, and any that are fitted do not comply with DfT requirements.

Yes, speeding by that much is a bit silly, but to be honest you can see anyone about to cross the road from a distance in any case. This is not a case of riding past a school at high speed. Plus, physics tells us that the energy involved in a cyclist going that quick is not that much in any case, certainly a great deal less than a 2tonne 4x4 travelling at the speed limit.

A warning to the rider would have been appropriate. A fine is illegal.

I hope the rider is able to contest it.

To be honest, the po;lice could be doing something more appropriate about tackling speeding. On the way home yesterday from the airport in my car, I was tailgated by an articulated lorry because I had the temerity to be driving at the speed limit along the A23 through Croyodn. The driver then went on to make a dangerous overtake of me, followed by two other vehicles. I decided wisely to keep my distance and let the idiot do whatever he wanted in front of me. Why aren't the police tackling speeding by morons in 44tonne trucks instead? The potential for damage they have is rather higher than that of a cyclist.

Avatar
thx1138 [66 posts] 2 years ago
2 likes

Is "speeding and driving without due care on a bicycle" even a valid charge? Not sure how accurate this is but it wouls suggest not. Maybe...

Avatar
Housecathst [604 posts] 2 years ago
5 likes

Interesting that there were two charges, but no details about why he was charged with  driving without due care. Why don't motorist get charged with this was well as the speeding offence, surely it would be a slam dunk. Not paying attention to speed limit signs = without due care + the speeding offence. 

Avatar
Awavey [346 posts] 2 years ago
0 likes
OldRidgeback wrote:

Err, I've done big speeds down there in the past, before all this fuss started about speeding. Technically cyclists cannot be fined for speeding as a bicycle is not required to have a speed measuring device by law, and any that are fitted do not comply with DfT requirements.

Yes, speeding by that much is a bit silly, but to be honest you can see anyone about to cross the road from a distance in any case. This is not a case of riding past a school at high speed. Plus, physics tells us that the energy involved in a cyclist going that quick is not that much in any case, certainly a great deal less than a 2tonne 4x4 travelling at the speed limit.

A warning to the rider would have been appropriate. A fine is illegal.

I hope the rider is able to contest it.

To be honest, the po;lice could be doing something more appropriate about tackling speeding. On the way home yesterday from the airport in my car, I was tailgated by an articulated lorry because I had the temerity to be driving at the speed limit along the A23 through Croyodn. The driver then went on to make a dangerous overtake of me, followed by two other vehicles. I decided wisely to keep my distance and let the idiot do whatever he wanted in front of me. Why aren't the police tackling speeding by morons in 44tonne trucks instead? The potential for damage they have is rather higher than that of a cyclist.

look I totally agree the police ought to have something better to do tackling bigger road safety issues, and the technicalities of breaking a speed limit on a bike are well worn topics of debate especially in Royal Parks, and the appropriate thing should have been a jolly severe warning, or careless/dangerous cycling, certainly driving a bike without due care & attention sounds a totally made up thing, and its reasonable to question whether a speed gun acurrately measures a cyclists speed, but these are all things that should have been brought up in court if they were of question.

and you might be able to see someone cross in front of you, but would you be able to stop in time, at 38mph its surprising how rapidly you run out of room if you need to stop again, bike brakes arent really designed to stop optimally, and few people will ever grab the brakes fully to prevent locking up their front wheel and producing a comedy falling off.

we know its an area the parks take particular interest and issue with, rightly or wrongly, so a bit of common sense doesnt hurt, its not like its the only hill in the country.

Avatar
ribena [185 posts] 2 years ago
11 likes

Am i reading that right - 620 pound fine, including costs?

He should have done it in the car, fine would be about a quarter of that!

Avatar
thx1138 [66 posts] 2 years ago
8 likes
ribena wrote:

Am i reading that right - 620 pound fine, including costs?

He should have done it in the car, fine would be about a quarter of that!

And if he'd knocked a cyclist off it would have been even less...

Avatar
ragtag [218 posts] 2 years ago
5 likes
levermonkey wrote:

Yes I have been to Richmond Park, many times in fact and I do know Sawyers Hill, and I do know that you can build up quite a speed. But ... just because you can does not mean that you should!

I could cycle past my local infants school at 40mph+ (the road has a good slope and gravity loves me!) even though the posted speed limit is 20mph. Does that mean that I should? And what if I did it at a time when children are going to or from the school? As I said - just because you can does not mean that you should.

Last time I checked (today) Richmond Park doesn't have a school on Sawyers. 

Avatar
skull-collector... [144 posts] 2 years ago
1 like

So do we live in a country of law or not? It's unclear.

Avatar
Batchy [386 posts] 2 years ago
1 like

Was he actually pedaling ? If he was freewheeling when clocked then the charges are null and void ! ? 

Avatar
IanW1968 [342 posts] 2 years ago
1 like

Has there been a spate of accidents in the area or is this just the usual prejudice?

Avatar
Ush [1005 posts] 2 years ago
1 like

Ah, but did he have a helmet on?

Avatar
rogermerriman [131 posts] 2 years ago
0 likes

I'm assuming if he not only got charged with speeding but also with out care, that he was overtaking etc, the 10th was a Saturday and weekends get busy, and so on.

 

Sounds also like he may have failed the attitude test, agree with others even freewheeling knocking on 40mph is quite possible,  though a weekend isn't the best time for such antics.

Avatar
JonD [488 posts] 2 years ago
2 likes

Buggerit, I can't be arsed...

Avatar
bikebot [2119 posts] 2 years ago
1 like

Richmond Park had cameras and road sensors setup during the summer for a few weeks, which were monitoring all the traffic movements.  I wonder if any data from that is available yet?

Regents Park did something similar, and in the correspondence with the local cycling club regarding speed bumps, the manager divulged that over half the cars broke the speed limit and speeds as high as 84mph were recorded.

My own experience of the Police in that park is that they aren't bothered much by speed unless you descend like an utter berk.  What they really don't like is people overtaking moving traffic at high speed, and they'll often catch and warn people doing that by parking up at the bottom of Sawyer. 

Doing 38mph on a Sunday, he would have been amongst a lot of traffic, hence why he was nabbed.

Avatar
macrophotofly [289 posts] 2 years ago
0 likes

It's interesting how a number of people below are continuing to say that legally he can't be charged (no speed device, freewheeling, etc, etc). Given that a court has now judged against a defendant who pleaded not guilty means there is now a proven judgement on what is the law. It has just been verified.

Also driving without due care is often pushed for when the speedlimit is exceeded by a signifigant amount. Going nearly twice the limit may have counted in that case

Avatar
Thelma Viaduct [62 posts] 2 years ago
0 likes

Put in some small speed bumps, that would slow most castelli lingerie clad hero roadies down.

Avatar
vbvb [621 posts] 2 years ago
0 likes

Magistrates are advised by a qualified lawyer, I read, but aren't lawyers themselves. Quality varies, of course. It'll be too pricey to quiz this in a bigger court, though the hour or two of casual reading I've done in this area tells me it should've been thrown out. Must be irritating to the fellow involved. I suppose he's reviewing his defence's performance too.

Avatar
bikebot [2119 posts] 2 years ago
0 likes
Thelma Viaduct wrote:

Put in some small speed bumps, that would slow most castelli lingerie clad hero roadies down.

Richmond Park already has speed bumps.  They do absolutely nothing to slow the huge herds of 4x4s that roam the perimeter of the park.

Avatar
Beaufort [270 posts] 2 years ago
0 likes

Having no speed limit for cyclists sounds OK but does it mean I can use aero tech to reach 60mph and be OK will everyone ?

 

The rule exists presuming that assholes wont use it aganst the spirit of itself. Just because something is not illegal does not make it the right thing to do.

Avatar
Batchy [386 posts] 2 years ago
3 likes
Batchy wrote:

Was he actually pedaling ? If he was freewheeling when clocked then the charges are null and void ! ? 

And further more how did the police know that the Cyclist was actually furious ? Ecstatic more like WHEEeeeeeeeeeeee !  

Avatar
thx1138 [66 posts] 2 years ago
0 likes
Airzound wrote:

Should have got Mr Nick "Loophole " Freeman to defend him then he may well have got off.

Irrespective of whether you feel this guy was speeding or whether it was an appropriate use of police time and resources, I am sure that the court's judgement could be appealed on several points of law and that the police acted unlawfully in bringing the prosecution. But first you would need to establish the full facts of whether the standard of this guy's riding actually was reckless or merely careless in the eyes of one vindictive copper? Maybe speeding in itself might not be suffcient in itself to have made out the offence of wanton or reckless cycling, if you cannot lawfully speed on a bicycle,  then in the opinion of a vindcitive copper the offence might be made out. 

Also you certainly don't drive, but ride a bicycle. Driving implies a motorised vehicle which a bicycle is not. Speed guns have been used to successfully prosecute speeding motorcyclists although they are a little wider than a cyclist and have engines, etc.

I would be concentrating on whether the police speed guns have been properly calibrated for use on cyclists. Also that cyclists are not required by law to have speed measuring devices fitted to their bicycles, irrespective of whether he did have one in use at the time.

I would consider an appeal to Crown Court, but then again this could be costly, even more costly if the appeal failed. Mr Harness needs to get legal advice, as I suggest from Mr Nick "Loophole" Freeman.

 

I don't think he's a fan of cyclists.... http://www.cyclingweekly.co.uk/news/latest-news/motoring-lawyer-says-bic...

Avatar
webster [49 posts] 2 years ago
0 likes
bikebot wrote:
Thelma Viaduct wrote:

Put in some small speed bumps, that would slow most castelli lingerie clad hero roadies down.

Richmond Park already has speed bumps.  They do absolutely nothing to slow the huge herds of 4x4s that roam the perimeter of the park.

From memory Richmond Park has only three speed humps and they are between Richmond Gate and Pembroke Lodge, and yes they do absolutely nothing to slow the aggressive speeding drivers. I used to frequently match or mildly exceed the 20mph but still drivers would dangerously attempt to overtake when there is no room.

Avatar
bikebot [2119 posts] 2 years ago
0 likes
webster wrote:
bikebot wrote:
Thelma Viaduct wrote:

Put in some small speed bumps, that would slow most castelli lingerie clad hero roadies down.

Richmond Park already has speed bumps.  They do absolutely nothing to slow the huge herds of 4x4s that roam the perimeter of the park.

From memory Richmond Park has only three speed humps and they are between Richmond Gate and Pembroke Lodge, and yes they do absolutely nothing to slow the aggressive speeding drivers. I used to frequently match or mildly exceed the 20mph but still drivers would dangerously attempt to overtake when there is no room.

There's a few more, by some of the entrances, one at the top of Broomfield, little ones at the roundabout for Sheen gate.  They've recently put some rumble strips in by Robin Hood gate as well which don't really seem to do anything useful.

I've actually been there twice this week around dawn, with the clocks changing you get that nice little window again between sunrise and the gates opening to motor traffic.

Avatar
3wheelsgood [63 posts] 2 years ago
0 likes
JonD wrote:

Buggerit, I can't be arsed...

laugh

Avatar
PaulBox [676 posts] 2 years ago
0 likes

And now this comes down to whether or not the fella can afford to take this further, very sad.

Batchy wrote:

Was he actually pedaling ? If he was freewheeling when clocked then the charges are null and void ! ? 

Does this really make a difference? There's a descent near me on an A road in a 30mph limit. You peak at about 44-45mph as you pass a speed camera, but (I'm) always freewheeling at that point.

Avatar
brooksby [2646 posts] 2 years ago
0 likes

How do I know how fast I'm going?

Bicycles don't have speedometers, and I don't use a newfangled cycling computer, so how do I know how fast I'm travelling?  If I go down a hill in a 20mph limit zone, how could I know how fast I'm travelling without doing some pretty amazing counting-and-mental-arithmetic (wheel circumference, revolutions per minute, that sort of thing)?

And if I can have no idea how fast I'm travelling, how logical is it to then fine me for speeding???

Avatar
cat1commuter [1422 posts] 2 years ago
1 like

UK's top cyling lawyer offers to take it further on a "no win, no fee" basis:

https://twitter.com/MartinPorter6/status/659332774583795712

Can we link them up?

Pages