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Regent's Park rat running motorists to be banned 20 hours a day

Plans to install bollards on the route will reduce rat running and make cycling more pleasant, but a coalition of cycling clubs say they will fight speed humps "to the death"...
Close pass in Regent's Park - photo credit @LondonDynaslow

Plans to ban rat-running motorists from Regent’s Park’s Outer Circle for 20 hours per day have been welcomed by cyclists who commute and train on the route. However, a coalition of cycling clubs says they are concerned over four proposed speed humps with granite cobbles on them and says they will fight them “to the death”.

As part of plans for Cycle Superhighway 11 (CS11), from Swiss Cottage gyratory to the West End, which were released for consultation yesterday, bollards will be installed at four gates around Regent’s Park’s Outer Circle to prevent motor traffic using the route as a North-South rat run, except between 11am and 3pm.

As well as a cycle commuter route, the 4.4km Outer Circle is a popular training circuit for cycling clubs, who formed a coalition to oppose earlier plans by the Royal Parks to install 14 speed humps on the route. However, four remain in the final designs.

Cyclists who train at Regent's Park fighting against planned speed bumps on Outer Circle

Simon Munk, Infrastructure Campaigner at the London Cycling Campaign, told “We massively support the closure of the gates and the reduction of traffic through the area, that’s a huge shift in favour of cycling.

“I think the thing to remember is that this is about enabling far more leisure cyclists, sports cyclists and families to cycle, but also people who want to cycle but currently don’t do so.”

Justin Mckie, chair of Regent's Park Cyclists, a coalition of cycling clubs campaigning for better road conditions, is supportive of the plans, but says more can be done to cut East-West rat running, and has concerns over four raised tables in the designs that will act as speed humps.

He says: “I think broadly it’s really positive, I think all the superhighways are moving in the right direction, I think [cycling commissioner Andrew] Gilligan and TfL (Transport for London) should be patted on the back, I don’t think people say that enough.

“I think it is a bold move to close the North and South gates, but I don’t think that goes far enough because I think they are still going to end up with a lot of through traffic East to West.”

Primarily, Regent's Park Cyclists takes issue with the granite setts (cobbles) planned for the inclines to the raised tables. According to consultation material these raised tables are intended to help pedestrians cross and “would be designed to be safe and comfortable to cycle over and to meet the accessibility needs of park visitors, including wheelchair users.”

However, Mckie says he feels the cobbles will prove slippery in wet weather and could come loose. He said: “They fall to bits - all over London they are falling to bits.”

“I worry about the four platforms and the design, because I don’t think they are going to do anything. If they are steep enough to cause a problem [for cyclists] then they are a problem, if they aren’t then what are they doing? As cyclists we will fight those platforms to the death; we are really against them.”

Mckie estimates around 3,000 cyclists use the Outer Circle for training, and says he hopes to see between 500-1000 responses to the consultation from the cycling club community.

Regent’s Park is one of six sections being consulted on as part of CS11. Among improvements for pedestrians are widened pavements at crossing points by up to 2.5m, including outside London Zoo, which has an entrance on the Outer Circle.

London Cycling Commissioner, Andrew Gilligan, told the Mayor of London was committed to do a cycle superhighway from Swiss Cottage to Central London and the park was an "infinitely more pleasant route" than the alternative, Finchley Road. He said: "What it does is make what is currently a rat run into a nice part of the park."

He said the speed bumps are "quite lo-fi" and that sports cyclists are "happier than they were", since the original 14 humps were reduced to four.

Jono Kenyon, one of the cycle campaigners behind Cycling Works, who  cycles with his children to London Zoo, via the Outer Circle, welcomes the plans.

He says: “At the moment the Outer Circle’s pretty scary in terms of vehicle speed but also at weekends in terms of volume - there seems to be this never ending stream of cars coming through the park - so it would be good to see an attempt made to reduce that.

“Obviously the fundamental thing is the speeding. There was a [police] sting operation there last year and they caught someone doing 88mph; that sort of speed is possible because there’s nothing there to hold drivers back.”

The consultation closes on Sunday 20 March and can be found here.

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