London’s Royal Parks have thrown a spanner into mayor Boris Johnson’s plans to build safer cycling routes across the capital by refusing to allow bikes to use the most direct routes across Hyde Park and Green Park.
The 15-mile east-west route, nicknamed “Crossrail for bikes” because it would roughly follow the train line, is scheduled to be created by 2016. But according to Ross Lydall in the Evening Standard, park authorities are not keen on having the route pass through Hyde Park or for a proposed north-south route to go through Green Park.
The fear is that building safe cycling routes away from motor vehicles would mean people might actually use them, increasing the number of cyclists in the parks and the risk of collision with other park users.
Instead of the route across Hyde Park passing near Speakers’ Corner, Royal Parks proposes a mile-long diversion toward Knightsbridge, and says that a route across Green Park must avoid the body of the park.
In a letter to the Mayor’s cycling czar Andrew Gilligan, Royal Parks deputy chief executive Colin Buttery says there is an “absolute preference” for the route to follow the existing road network in Hyde Park.
He writes: “This means that West Carriage Drive and South Carriage Drive should be used as the option to be investigated to take cyclists from the Bayswater Road to Hyde Park Corner.
“The existing cycling routes along Serpentine Road and the Broad Walk [in Kensington Gardens] are not suitable for larger volumes (in the same way that it would not be appropriate to encourage more cyclists to use Rotten Row).”
A Royal Parks spokesman said: “It is essential that any new routes are safe, not just for cyclists at busy junctions like Hyde Park Corner, but also for the many thousands of other people who use the parks, including pedestrians, children, runners and horse riders.”
A spokeswoman for the Mayor said: “Discussions are ongoing between Transport for London and the Royal Parks about the proposed east-west cycle route. We are working on a solution which ensures a safe and enjoyable experience for both pedestrians and cyclists.”
John 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 founder 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. He lives in Cambridge where the lack of hills is more than made up for by the headwinds.