Would your commute be easier if you could take a traffic-free route through a London park - but it’s closed at dusk?
Take action by signing a new petition to keep these safe havens open until late at night - or even 24 hours a day.
The Sunday Times has begun the Downing Street petition, which can be found here, saying that the number of people cycling in the capital has reached the highest level since Transport for London records began in 2000
The Royal Parks, which is responsible for many of the London parks says the reason is “health and safety”. A spokesman said: “The parks are valuable and unique spaces, and our role is to protect them and balance the needs of different visitors, the wildlife and the park’s ecology.
“We close them at night for a number of reasons, which includes the protection of wildlife, and [it] helps to reduce crime and vandalism, much of which takes place under [cover of] darkness.”
One of the joys of cycling across London is that you can plan your route to pass through some of the capital’s many parks. That means you can breathe relatively clean air while enjoying smooth pathways and not having to worry about whether the cement-mixer lorry at the lights has seen you.
Ruth Chiat, of Sustrans, writing in the paper, said: “On my commute from east London to Farringdon I cycle through several parks — easily my favourite bits of the journey, because they allow me to soak up the changing seasons.
“And here we come to the problem, because many close at dusk, the short winter days mean thousands of cyclists are forced onto surrounding roads during rush hour. With poor light and bad weather making it hard to see and be seen, it’s the worst time to lose access to our parks.”
Tower Hamlets council, which looks after Victoria Park, said: “We can’t provide assurances to residents that the whole site would be safe to use after dusk, which is why it is closed each night,” it said.
“If gates were open for cyclists, pedestrians would also be able to enter the park and this could result in accidents and potentially a rise in antisocial behaviour.”
At the time of writing, the petition has just a handful of signatories, but it would need 100,000 signatures to make it eligible to be considered for debate in Parliament.
After an unpromising start, having to be bribed by her parents to learn to ride without stabilisers, Sarah became rather keener on cycling in her university years, and was eventually persuaded to upgrade to proper road cycling by the prospect of a shiny red Italian bike, which she promptly destroyed by trapping a pair of knickers in the rear derailleur. Sarah writes about about cycling every weekend on road.cc.