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But does the Royal Parks speed limit actually apply to bikes?

A 16-year-old who rode down Sawyers Hill in Richmond Park at 37 mph has been handed a six-month conditional discharge.

According to YourLocalGuardian, the teenager, whose name has been witheld for legal reasons, was also ordered to pay a £15 victim surcharge and £85 in costs by Lavender Hill Magistrates’ Court on Thursday, September 12.

Richmond Park is unusual among British roads in that its speed limit is a Royal Parks bye-law and not set by the local traffic authority. Unlike public road speed limits, the 20mph limit in Richmond Park applies to cyclists as well.

Or does it? The regulations applying to Royal Parks were amended in 2010, and in that statutory instrument, ‘vehicle’ was defined as “a mechanically propelled vehicle intended or adapted for use on a road.”

The regulations did not previously have a definition of a vehicle so were interpreted to apply to bikes as well as cars and motorbikes.

The new definition is the exact phrase used to define a motor vehicle in the Road Traffic Act, so on a layman’s interpretation at least, it could be argued that the Richmond Park speed limit doesn’t apply to bikes after all. If you're curious, BikeHub has lots on cycling and speed limits, and other legal matters.

It seems likely that the young cyclist in this case simply decided to cop the fine rather than fight it. If that’s the case his lawyer - if he even had one - might have missed a chance to make a bit of a name for himself.

Perhaps the most famous example of 'speeding' in Richmond Park is David Millar's 13:35 lap time in June 2011. As a publicity stunt for his autobiography, Millar lapped the park in full time trial kit in a 'race' against BBC presenter Graham Bell. Millar subsequently apologised profusely for steaming round the park at almost 30mph, and the BBC's video of the ride was taken down.

Our official grumpy Northerner, John has been riding bikes for over 30 years since discovering as an uncoordinated teen that a sport could be fun if it didn't require you to catch a ball or get in the way of a hulking prop forward.

Road touring was followed by mountain biking and a career racing in the mud that was as brief as it was unsuccessful.

Somewhere along the line came the discovery that he could string a few words together, followed by the even more remarkable discovery that people were mug enough to pay for this rather than expecting him to do an honest day's work. He's pretty certain he's worked for even more bike publications than Mat Brett.

The inevitable 30-something MAMIL transition saw him shift to skinny tyres and these days he lives in Cambridge where the lack of hills is more than made up for by the headwinds.

47 comments

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MrGear [86 posts] 3 years ago
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How is anyone supposed to get a 20mph average lap if they can't speed down the hills?

/joking

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captain_slog [393 posts] 3 years ago
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If I remember correctly, the regulations were amended when they were thinking of introducing car-parking charges in the royal parks. Until then, as you say, the by-laws couldn't be inferred to exclude bikes. But it wouldn't have made sense to charge for bike-parking.

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David Portland [83 posts] 3 years ago
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"£15 victim surcharge" -- what victim?

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gazza_d [470 posts] 3 years ago
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6 month conditional discharge, £85 costs & £15 victim surcharge

He'd have got a lighter sentence if he'd ran a cyclist over in a car.

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lookmanohands [119 posts] 3 years ago
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How did they clock his speed? Have they got speed cameras?

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guidob [56 posts] 3 years ago
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this should make the Richmond Park time trials less fun, even as a fat old bloke I still managed 10 miles with an average speed of 20 mph - and I was pretty much last...

then again it is all done before the gates open so...

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HKCambridge [224 posts] 3 years ago
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David Portland wrote:

"£15 victim surcharge" -- what victim?

It's called a victim surcharge because it is used to fund victim services through the Victim and Witness General Fund. It has nothing to do with whether there was a victim of the offense, and is levied with all fines imposed by a court.

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David Portland [83 posts] 3 years ago
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That's my "new thing learned" for today  1

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Ben Burns [60 posts] 3 years ago
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I was stopped in Richmond Park last summer on my bike - the policeman was standing in the middle of the road with a laser speed sensor on me. I assumed the speed limit didn't apply to bikes around the parks but was told it's slightly different due to it being a royal park (I didn't take in any of the details). I always go slow down the hills around there now!!

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nappe [69 posts] 3 years ago
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How do you know what speed you are doing when you don't have to have a speedo fitted?

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Ben Burns [60 posts] 3 years ago
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Good question!!

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thereverent [443 posts] 3 years ago
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They must have clocked him right at the bottom of the hill. It's a S bend so fast, but not super fast.

It seems likely that the young cyclist in this case simply decided to cop the fine rather than fight it. If that’s the case his lawyer - if he even had one - might have missed a chance to make a bit of a name for himself.

I thought if he had said fair enough he would have got a fixed penalty notice rather than going to court. It sounds like he was in court, so could have challened the rules.

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Mendip James [39 posts] 3 years ago
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Oh deer

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John Stevenson [289 posts] 3 years ago
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2010 amendment of regs tried to introduce speed limits but also defined a vehicle, to which those limits applied, as mechanically propelled - that is, with an engine.

Unless there has been an explicit order by the Secretary of State extending the speed limit to bikes, then as far as we can see, it still doesn't apply and the Met is illegally harassing cyclists.

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captain_slog [393 posts] 3 years ago
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thereverent wrote:

They must have clocked him right at the bottom of the hill. It's a S bend so fast, but not super fast.

Are you thinking of Broomfield Hill? It says Sawyers Hill, which is pretty straight.

thereverent wrote:

I thought if he had said fair enough he would have got a fixed penalty notice rather than going to court.

I'd have thought so too. Maybe it went to court because he was doing so much more than 20?

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mrmo [2093 posts] 3 years ago
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John Stevenson wrote:

2010 amendment of regs tried to introduce speed limits but also defined a vehicle, to which those limits applied, as mechanically propelled - that is, with an engine.

Unless there has been an explicit order by the Secretary of State extending the speed limit to bikes, then as far as we can see, it still doesn't apply and the Met is illegally harassing cyclists.

They'll just go for furious cycling instead....

If the first charge won't stick, start again and find one that will!!! as long as your not a driver!

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Mendip James [39 posts] 3 years ago
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I am in there daily and nearly always Police presence at 7 in the morning, often wonder why? Punch up at the Royal Ballet School? deer rustlers? Richmond Park isn't really a crime hotspot, maybe because it's a royal park  7

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thereverent [443 posts] 3 years ago
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captain_slog wrote:

Are you thinking of Broomfield Hill? It says Sawyers Hill, which is pretty straight.

My mistake. I had automatically thought about Broomfield hill.
Sawyers hill isn't as steep so would take a bit more effort to get serious speed up.
The Police are often parked on the flat further down under the trees, but you can still see them from the road. Maybe he wasn't very observant.

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timothy [38 posts] 3 years ago
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Maybe he saw them but thought that they were helping to solve serious crimes not doing kids on bikes for speeding.

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MrGear [86 posts] 3 years ago
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I actually did some mountain biking at night in Richmond Park with headlights on. It was a lot of fun. Deer everywhere though.

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djc1245 [23 posts] 3 years ago
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Sorry officer, sun was in my eyes and the limit just came out of no where

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crazy-legs [870 posts] 3 years ago
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It;s a weird one, there's some very conflicting information online about whether it applies to bikes or not.

http://www.frp.org.uk/pdf/frp/44_On_the_Road_In_Richmond_Park_Website_ve...

Seems to say it does but doesn't actually link to the Regulations (which I can't find).
There's the other factor that if the cyclist doesn't have a computer/speedo, how on earth can they be done for speeding?

I've heard of a couple of incidents of cyclists being done for speeding but I've never seen it - I've got a couple of 20+mph laps to my name and I think my best speed down Sawyer Hill is probably somewhere around 35-40mph too. Given the sheer number of cyclists round there I think the police would have their work cut out enforcing anything and, on a law of averages, you'd be unlucky to be caught.

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Aldaron [5 posts] 3 years ago
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At the risk of going a bit off topic, Richmond's special rules are the source of a lingering question for me. As a non-UK resident I was puzzled by something I saw on a recent that passed through Richmond Park. The official instructions for the ride made clear that urination on public or private property was prohibited in the UK, a rule that the thousands of riders over the course of a hundred miles seemed to follow — except in Richmond Park, where literally hundreds or riders seemed perfectly comfortable relieving themselves in plain view. Am I missing a secret about royal property: is it legal to urinate in the Queen's parks?

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anewman [5 posts] 3 years ago
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Imagine the Police using Strava to find offenders  4

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Low Speed Wobble [156 posts] 3 years ago
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Aldaron wrote:

Am I missing a secret about royal property: is it legal to urinate in the Queen's parks?

Is it legal? Not only is it legal, my friend, it is our loyal duty to do so at least once every lunar month.

And when we witness this happening it is also our national duty (as good British citizens) to start whistling and walk on by pretending we haven't seen what's going on.

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stuartp [68 posts] 3 years ago
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Does the Palace to Palace go down this hill?
If so, they could be quite busy on Sunday

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ragtag [218 posts] 3 years ago
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Fenton!

I emailed the Law a while ago to look into this. They never got back, obviously. The pay for parking thing was all scrapped I believe (never park there so don't know) from what I read online and all the new bye-laws withdrawn. As others have said, conflicting information, mostly in information leaflets but yet to see anything official. I'd like the Police to produce the bye-law that stats that categorically.

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Mostyn [400 posts] 3 years ago
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gazza_d wrote:

6 month conditional discharge, £85 costs & £15 victim surcharge

He'd have got a lighter sentence if he'd ran a cyclist over in a car.

Best reply on this subject; and it's so true! Human life worth less than breaking an antiquated local rule.

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John Stevenson [289 posts] 3 years ago
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ragtag wrote:

Fenton!

I emailed the Law a while ago to look into this. They never got back, obviously.

I have been told by Met press office that they are asking Parks Police and will get back to me.

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ChairRDRF [356 posts] 3 years ago
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I seem to get passed by a lot of cars as I struggle along at 20 mph. Not much enforcement for them.

It is worthwhile going slow for the deer, but keeping to 20 mph down some of the hills is pretty difficult.

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