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Cobble rumble strips for popular Royal Parks cycle route

Mount Walk, with 900 cyclists per hour at peak times, will become part of the Central London Grid, linking to the new East-West Cycle Superhighway

The Royal Parks are currently installing cobble rumble strips on a popular cycling route to prevent cyclists travelling more than 12mph.

Mount Walk, in Kensington Gardens, West London, is a shared space path with pedestrians, currently used by up to 900 cyclists per hour. It will become part of Transport for London (TfL)’s Central London Grid – a network of cycle routes across central London – and joins up with the new East-West Cycle Superhighway on West Carriage Drive. 

According to a study by Atkins consultants carried out for the Royal Parks, in six hours on a Tuesday 70 per cent of cyclists were found to exceed the “design speed” of 12mph for Mount Walk, with 60 of 2,214 cyclists travelling at more than 18mph. The Royal Parks hope the cobbles will reduce conflict as cycling numbers increase, but campaigners fear these can become slippery in the rain and say seeking an alternative route away from pedestrians and motor traffic could be a better solution.

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The Royal Parks’ website explains: “Mount Walk is currently a very popular cycle route with up to 900 cyclists an hour using the route during peak times. This number is predicted to increase as more people choose to cycle in the parks.

“Due to its popularity this route experiences high volumes of cyclists, pedestrians and other park users and sometimes this congestion leads to conflict. There are also issues with excessive cycling speeds making some park users feel vulnerable.”

The Royal Parks says because of historic trees lining the path it is not possible to widen it to separate pedestrians and cyclists. The role of the cobbles is to provide a “tactile and visual reinforcement of the concept of shared space and promote considerate use of the pathway”.

However, the London Cycling Campaign’s infrastructure campaigner, Simon Munk, said cobbles can become slippery in the rain and suggested a better approach may be to find a safe alternative route, separate from pedestrians and motor traffic.

He told “The parks are popular because they provide alternatives to busy main roads nearby with no good cycling facilities – if the main roads nearby were appropriately tackled, we might see far fewer ‘commuter’ cyclists using the parks and more ‘leisure’ cyclists instead on this route.”

“900 cyclists per hour indicates this is a strong ‘desire line’ – and the issue here is then whether there are alternative routes through the park that would be better to enable easy cycling or that pedestrians could use instead.”

Last week it was announced Regents Park’s Outer Circle, also one of London’s Royal Parks, would see four raised cobbled tables introduced as part of Cycle Superhighway 11 work, which local cycling clubs objected to.

Munk says the main concern with cobble strips is their maintenance, whether they become slippery in the rain, and how they affect cyclists with narrow tyres and kids on bikes.

Pedestrian priority signs will also be installed along the route, which is closed between 4 January and 22 February while works take place, with cyclists routed onto a busy main road in the meantime.

Kensington and Chelsea Cycling Campaign's Martin Carr, who used to commute along Mount Walk, told "Most cyclists are considerate and understand how to behave on shared spaces, but I understand that some conflicts have occurred. I did once witness a cyclist have a bad fall after colliding with a dog on this route.

"If CS9 were built along Kensington High Street and Kensington Gore, it would relieve pressure on this route. However, ths is not currently planned due to objections from K&C (Kensington and Chelsea) Council.

"I will reserve judgment on whether I like the rumble strips until I can test them msyelf."

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