A Richmond Park conservation charity has complained about an extraordinary level of littering from this year's Ride London 100 event.
The Friends of Richmond Park say following the event they found 96 gel wrappers in just 600m of Park they say litter pickers had already passed once. They fear more may still be hidden in the long grass - a risk to the park's deer population, who could become seriously ill or die if they eat the wrappers.
Around 25,000 participants on the 100 mile ride passed through Richmond park on the outward stretch of the route, which loops towards the Surrey Hills and back from Central London. The Friends say littering was also a problem last year.
A report by the FRP says: "Loads of gel packs on road & side, also energy bar wrappers, 4 inner tubes, banana skins, and other rubbish blowing about. Pic shows 96 strips found between Richmond Gate and Pembroke Lodge next day after litter pickers. Also 2 gel packs, and one inner tube found hanging on tree crate."
The report shows a photo of the 96 top strips of energy gels, presumably missed by previous litter pickers due to their size, which also makes them liable to be eaten by deer. The Friends say these can clog the animals' stomachs, causing serious consequences for their health.
The FRP says: "These strips are dangerous for deer. They are small enough that they can get hidden in or trampled into the grass and are easily eaten by the deer. They are indigestible and gradually clog the stomachs of the deer, leading to them being unable to eat properly and so starve. Examination of deer that have died unexpectedly often shows the contents of their stomach full of litter."
Deer were herded away from the ride course by park staff for the event to stop them straying into the path of cyclists.
Signs were put up by organisers asking riders not to litter, and bins provided at feed and water stations, but apparently this did not stop litter appearing along the route.
One cyclist, Elisabeth Anderson, suggested cyclists pitch in to clean up after the event.
— Elisabeth Anderson (@velobetty) August 20, 2015
Ride London organisers have been contacted for comment.