London’s Royal Parks have thrown a spanner into mayor Boris Johnson’s plans to build safer cycling routes across the capital by refusing to allow bikes to use the most direct routes across Hyde Park and Green Park.
The 15-mile east-west route, nicknamed “Crossrail for bikes” because it would roughly follow the train line, is scheduled to be created by 2016. But according to Ross Lydall in the Evening Standard, park authorities are not keen on having the route pass through Hyde Park or for a proposed north-south route to go through Green Park.
The fear is that building safe cycling routes away from motor vehicles would mean people might actually use them, increasing the number of cyclists in the parks and the risk of collision with other park users.
Instead of the route across Hyde Park passing near Speakers’ Corner, Royal Parks proposes a mile-long diversion toward Knightsbridge, and says that a route across Green Park must avoid the body of the park.
In a letter to the Mayor’s cycling czar Andrew Gilligan, Royal Parks deputy chief executive Colin Buttery says there is an “absolute preference” for the route to follow the existing road network in Hyde Park.
He writes: “This means that West Carriage Drive and South Carriage Drive should be used as the option to be investigated to take cyclists from the Bayswater Road to Hyde Park Corner.
“The existing cycling routes along Serpentine Road and the Broad Walk [in Kensington Gardens] are not suitable for larger volumes (in the same way that it would not be appropriate to encourage more cyclists to use Rotten Row).”
A Royal Parks spokesman said: “It is essential that any new routes are safe, not just for cyclists at busy junctions like Hyde Park Corner, but also for the many thousands of other people who use the parks, including pedestrians, children, runners and horse riders.”
A spokeswoman for the Mayor said: “Discussions are ongoing between Transport for London and the Royal Parks about the proposed east-west cycle route. We are working on a solution which ensures a safe and enjoyable experience for both pedestrians and cyclists.”
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.