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Teen cyclist fined for riding 37mph in Richmond Park

But does the Royal Parks speed limit actually apply to bikes?

A 16-year-old who rode down Sawyers Hill in Richmond Park at 37 mph has been handed a six-month conditional discharge.

According to YourLocalGuardian, the teenager, whose name has been witheld for legal reasons, was also ordered to pay a £15 victim surcharge and £85 in costs by Lavender Hill Magistrates’ Court on Thursday, September 12.

Richmond Park is unusual among British roads in that its speed limit is a Royal Parks bye-law and not set by the local traffic authority. Unlike public road speed limits, the 20mph limit in Richmond Park applies to cyclists as well.

Or does it? The regulations applying to Royal Parks were amended in 2010, and in that statutory instrument, ‘vehicle’ was defined as “a mechanically propelled vehicle intended or adapted for use on a road.”

The regulations did not previously have a definition of a vehicle so were interpreted to apply to bikes as well as cars and motorbikes.

The new definition is the exact phrase used to define a motor vehicle in the Road Traffic Act, so on a layman’s interpretation at least, it could be argued that the Richmond Park speed limit doesn’t apply to bikes after all. If you're curious, BikeHub has lots on cycling and speed limits, and other legal matters.

It seems likely that the young cyclist in this case simply decided to cop the fine rather than fight it. If that’s the case his lawyer - if he even had one - might have missed a chance to make a bit of a name for himself.

Perhaps the most famous example of 'speeding' in Richmond Park is David Millar's 13:35 lap time in June 2011. As a publicity stunt for his autobiography, Millar lapped the park in full time trial kit in a 'race' against BBC presenter Graham Bell. Millar subsequently apologised profusely for steaming round the park at almost 30mph, and the BBC's video of the ride was taken down.

Acknowledged by the Telegraph as a leading cycling journalist, John Stevenson has been writing about bikes and cycling for over 30 years since discovering that people were mug enough to pay him for it rather than expecting him to do an honest day's work.

He was heavily involved in the mountain bike boom of the late 1980s as a racer, team manager and race promoter, and that led to writing for Mountain Biking UK magazine shortly after its inception. He got the gig by phoning up the editor and telling him the magazine was rubbish and he could do better. Rather than telling him to get lost, MBUK editor Tym Manley called John’s bluff and the rest is history.

Since then he has worked on MTB Pro magazine and was editor of Maximum Mountain Bike and Australian Mountain Bike magazines, before switching to the web in 2000 to work for CyclingNews.com. Along with road.cc editor Tony Farelly, John was on the launch team for BikeRadar.com and subsequently became editor in chief of Future Publishing’s group of cycling magazines and websites, including Cycling Plus, MBUK, What Mountain Bike and Procycling.

John has also written for Cyclist magazine, edited the BikeMagic website and was founding editor of TotalWomensCycling.com before handing over to someone far more representative of the site's main audience.

He joined road.cc in 2013 and these days he lives in Cambridge where the lack of hills is more than made up for by the headwinds.

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