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Boris Johnson urges Royal Parks to open up more paths to cyclists

Wider route availability in green spaces would help capital's cyclists avoid busy main roads...

Mayor of London Boris Johnson says that he would like to see cyclists to be allowed to ride their bikes on more footpaths in London’s eight Royal Parks. At the moment, bicycles are allowed on a total of 27 miles of off-road paths, but the Royal Parks Agency is being urged to let riders use more footpaths to help them avoid main roads.

According to a report in the London Evening Standard, Rotten Row in Hyde Park – which is also home to a number of Barclays Cycle Hire Scheme docking stations – is thought to be the busiest cycle path in the capital.

Cyclists can of course use the roads in the eight Royal Parks, with many of London’s keener riders undertaking laps of Richmond Park, the Outer Circle at Regents Park or repetitions of the hill in Greenwich Park as part of their training regime.

The other four Royal Parks are St James’s Park, Green Park, Kensington Gardens and Bushy Park, while Brompton Ceremony, which has a cycle route running through it, also comes under the Royal Parks Agency’s remit.

Quizzed as to whether he agreed with what were described as “widespread restrictions” on cycling in the royal parks, Mr Johnson: "Improving the provision for cycling is something that I am keen to work with the Royal Parks Agency on, so that more Londoners can enjoy the benefits of cycling in such fantastic environs.”

He added: "I accept that in providing facilities we need to seek to balance the wishes of cyclists with those of pedestrians and other park users," a reflection of the fact that any moves to increase the network of paths available for cyclists to use would be likely to face opposition from those who would prefer to see them remain bicycle-free.

Caroline Pidgeon, Liberal-Democrat chairwoman of the London Assembly's transport committee, was quoted in the Standard as also supporting the initiative, saying: "We are keen on seeing the rules relaxed in Royal Parks, with TfL working with the Royal Parks Agency to ensure proper cycle routes to help prevent conflict between cyclists and pedestrians."

Simon joined as news editor in 2009 and is now the site’s community editor, acting as a link between the team producing the content and our readers. A law and languages graduate, published translator and former retail analyst, he has reported on issues as diverse as cycling-related court cases, anti-doping investigations, the latest developments in the bike industry and the sport’s biggest races. Now back in London full-time after 15 years living in Oxford and Cambridge, he loves cycling along the Thames but misses having his former riding buddy, Elodie the miniature schnauzer, in the basket in front of him.

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timlennon | 13 years ago

Richmond Park has a 20mph speed limit. Admittedly I've flouted that as a cyclist on the donwhills, but most motorists flout it all the time. There are regular speed traps, but they're hardly subtle, or set up to actually catch people.

The Park has ample space and geography in my (I don't off-road) biking experience/knowledge, but too much path is still shared use.

And reading the local paper, you'd think that cyclists in Richmond Park are somehow a health hazard to drivers and deer, rather than the other way round. My only tip? The park is open to cyclists 24 hours, and is an absolutely brilliant place to cycle in pitch black - as long as your light are up to it!

handlebarcam | 13 years ago

Pity that London's mayor, unlike say New York's mayor, or the mayor of any city in any civilised country with a non-insane system of government truly, or at least nominally, by and for the people, can't say, "I'm the elected representative for the citizens of this city, so I'm going to tell the people who run these state-funded facilities to make room for cycling."

monty dog | 13 years ago

Making RP one-way or restricting traffic would be a great idea - it is meant to be a recreational space. I used to work in Roehampton 20 years ago and would be the only cyclist using the park at lunchtimes. Drove through on a Saturday morning recently and it was horrendous - big groups of riders and cars going too fast, with not enough room to pass safely.

cborrman | 13 years ago

fantastic! the general impression i get from the conduct of representitives of the royal parks is that cyclists are 3rd class citizens after walkers joggers and even horse riders: richmond park has nearly 2360 acres of space and cuclists are restricted to an 11k by 2m wide trial (mountain bikers) that is not even a real trail - as it does not even recommend dogs be on a lead or warn walkers that there may be cyclists as the rest of the UK's trails do. you can walk, frolic, lay down and pcinic where you please do what you wish in the 2359 acres of free space, just pay a little attention and use simple common sense in the 1 extra acre, if that, that composes a clearly marked trail!

but then 95% of people cannot walk down a busy london street or a busy underground station without stopping dead or changing direction unaware or their surroundings, so in a park distracted by fluffy animals god help us!

So boris - as timlennon hints: if we have to share space then start with getting the public to be a bit more aware in the paths we can ride on first! a shared path with "pedestrian priority" is a bit like a road with hedgehog priority, if it is a trail or a cycle path, its needs clearly marking with "beware, shared track with faster moving cyclists and joggers" i.e. amble aimlessly in the other 99% of the park, not here.

Similarly the road circuit in richmodn and cycle paths in the other parks: Richmond at least is a natural reserve; a place where cyclists as non polluters should have signs alerting drivers to the fact that this road is shared with cyclists, and do they need to drive a polluting car through a reserve - i.e. was this journey necessary?

These simple steps are needed to change the mindset of people that parks need cohabitation in the paths that we have already, cohabitation needs mutual respect: i will not ride my bike through you picnic; look before you cross a trail!

if we do have more paths; it would help if the traffic in richmond park were only allowed to go one way (clockwise or anti clockwise) and the other direction converted to cycle lanes. I understand the need to allow traffic through, but this would ensure that the journey was necessary and not just canny locals avoiding surrounding roads at the expense of the reserve, as well as making the park much, much more open to cycling and cyclists without complex and time consuming path opening.

timlennon | 13 years ago

"Dear Royal Parks, please save me from building proper infrastructure for cyclists by taking them off the roads. Thanks a ton, Boris."

Still, it's a not especially tacit recognition that, shock horror, most cyclists would prefer not to mix it with cars and trucks ...

zanf replied to timlennon | 13 years ago

Not only that, I was in Hyde Park on the last Sunday of June and my sister (who is having back surgery this month) had to jump out of the way of a group of people riding Boris Bikes through the western part of the park, which caused her to spasm her back.

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