Support road.cc

Like this site? Help us to make it better.

news

Gates, barriers, and chicanes being installed on Britain’s “most expensive street” to keep cyclists out

The temporary measures will be monitored for “several weeks” as the Crown Estate looks for a longer-term solution to “prioritise safety and well-being” of Kensington Palace Gardens residents

"Safety" measures, including gates, barriers, and chicanes, are being installed on Kensington Palace Gardens — the London avenue dubbed Billionaires' Row and Britain's "most expensive street" thanks to its £35 million average house price — to keep cyclists out and prioritise the "safety and wellbeing" of diplomats and other high-profile, ultra-rich residents.

Two weeks ago, it was reported that Kensington Palace Gardens, a half-mile-long tree-lined avenue running parallel to the facade of Kensington Palace between Notting Hill Gate and Kensington High Street, would be closing its gates to pedestrians and cyclists.

The street — which is home to several foreign embassies, such as Russia and Israel, France’s ambassadorial residence, and notable private residents such as former Chelsea FC owner Roman Abramovich, Tamara Ecclestone, daughter of former Formula 1 chief Bernie Ecclestone, and Princess Haya of Jordan, to name a few — has long been closed to motorists. However, pedestrians and cyclists had been able to enter at any time through gates guarded by sentry boxes at either end of the avenue.

After the widely-critised decision to close the street to the public citing "safety reasons", The Standard now reports that safety measures are being installed to keep cyclists on the carriageway, as the street plans to open to pedestrians.

> Banning cyclists and pedestrians from Britain's "most expensive street" slammed "a selfish and spiteful act" by Labour candidate standing for election in the area

The Crown Estate, which owns and manages the avenue, said that York Passage will reopen to pedestrians but will remain closed to cyclists, while Palace Avenue will reopen to pedestrians, but cyclists must dismount before using the gate.

A spokesman said it will be monitoring the temporary measures "for several weeks as we look to design and implement a longer-term solution".

Kensington Palace Gardens (licensed CC BY SA 2.0 by LondonEnte on Flickr).jpg

Plans for a cycling 'Quietway' in Kensington Palace Gardens were scrapped in 2016 to maintain its "exclusivity" (licensed CC BY SA 2.0 by LondonEnte on Flickr)

Earlier this month, the Crown Estate said that it took the decision to close the street to "prioritise safety and wellbeing". Sources also claimed that there had been numerous complaints about the behaviour of cyclists on the street, which allegedly put residents, diplomats, and visitors "at risk" and led to several near misses.

Just a couple days after the street closed its gates, the decision was widely condemned, with both Labour and Conservatives starting petitions demanding the Crown Estate reverse its decision.

Joe Powell, the Labour parliamentary candidate in Kensington & Bayswayer, slammed the decision as "selfish and spiteful", calling for the "crucial, safe connection between Notting Hill Gate and Kensington High Street" used by "thousands of pedestrians and cyclists every day" to be reopened.

"I'm calling on The Crown Estate to urgently reopen Kensington Palace Gardens to pedestrians and cyclists after they decided to close the road," he explained. "Kensington & Chelsea is already ranked the worst inner London borough for active travel by the Healthy Streets coalition. The last thing we need with a council and MP with a track record of blocking any initiatives to make our streets safer is one of the few safe roads for pedestrians and cyclists to be closed."

> "Dangerous cycling" law will be passed following election, Labour and Conservatives confirm

Back in 2016, plans to make Kensington Palace Gardens one of London's cycling Quietways – signposted routes on quiet back streets designed to offer a calmer and safer network for people on bikes – were scrapped following residents expressing fears that the use of the road by "the masses" would compromise security and "cede its exclusivity".

The Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea council and Transport for London received 15 responses to the consultation on the proposed Quietway, including "several" respondents who claimed that it would "pose security risks, unspecified".

One resident told the consultation: "The residents on this private road should not be responsible for the use of the masses. Open use of this private roadway by the masses will cede its exclusivity and surrender its security."

"Those who already use the cut-through... are oblivious to the dismount notices and feel the right to pedal through, causing pedestrians to move and young mums with buggies to move out of the way," another added.

"This is annoying to all, residents and visitors alike, we pay for the upkeep of this private road… in our high council tax and expect to keep the standards of privacy this brings us."

One person even argued that cyclists should be prevented from using the road entirely, while another wrote that there were "far too many cyclists on the roadway as it is" while calling for "a blanket ban". Eight years on that action has now come to pass.

Adwitiya joined road.cc in 2023 as a news writer after graduating with a masters in journalism from Cardiff University. His dissertation focused on active travel, which soon threw him into the deep end of covering everything related to the two-wheeled tool, and now cycling is as big a part of his life as guitars and football. He has previously covered local and national politics for Voice Wales, and also likes to writes about science, tech and the environment, if he can find the time. Living right next to the Taff trail in the Welsh capital, you can find him trying to tackle the brutal climbs in the valleys.

Add new comment

30 comments

Avatar
Daclu Trelub | 3 weeks ago
0 likes

<shrug>

If it's a private road, they can keep it to themselves if they want.

Reeks of the politics of envy, this article.

Avatar
Rendel Harris replied to Daclu Trelub | 3 weeks ago
0 likes

Daclu Trelub wrote:

<shrug>

If it's a private road, they can keep it to themselves if they want.

Reeks of the politics of envy, this article.

OK, so Richmond Park, Kensington Gardens, Hyde Park, Regent's Park, St.James's  Park and Green Park are also technically privately owned by the Crown, would it be OK for the public to be denied access to them as well? As I said elsewhere on this thread, the road belongs to the Crown Estate which essentially belongs to the public, this isn't just an instance of a developer buying some land and creating a gated community, it's land that is supposed to be managed in the national interest and that has had a permissive right of way for over a century.

And how the blazes is it the "politics of envy"? Nobody's saying take the billionaire's houses off them, nobody's saying tax them more, they're just asking to retain the right to use a safe and long-established walking and cycling route.

Avatar
leedorney | 1 month ago
0 likes

Are their any toffees on that lane?

Avatar
chrisonabike replied to leedorney | 1 month ago
2 likes

Probably a few - it looks like a Quality Street.  On the other hand I'm hearing a lot of fudge also.

Avatar
Rafeh1 | 1 month ago
0 likes

Driving is for drones. Sold my car live off my ebike. In car crazy la
https://medium.com/@rafehusain/triple-cheating-or-driving-is-for-drones-...

Avatar
BigDoodyBoy | 1 month ago
0 likes

Wait guys. Is this a private road? On private land? Is there a right of access or some other sort of public right of way? Rather than get all het up about it, maybe some facts for context?

Avatar
mattw replied to BigDoodyBoy | 1 month ago
9 likes

No one's getting het up.

The facts are fairly clear:

1 - The Crown Estate are treating it as a private road with permissive access, which is likely to be correct unless a claim is made for use as of right under the HWA 1980. I can't call the outcome of that. Leaving it such that a ROW to be established is not a mistake a I would expect from the Crown Estate in their role as landowner.

2 - If that is true they can probably exclude at will. Though whether that can be done on *new* discriminatory restrictions is an interesting one.

3 - Whether they are able to discriminate in their exclusion (mobility aids etc) is perhaps legally unsustainable. under EA2010. 

"Force cyclists to dismount" is very dodgy under Equality Law, and the Crown Estate are professional enough to know it.

4 - The claims about "safety for residents" are a smokescreen constructed from BS. The are essentially zero injury collisions there, and access only traffic to a small number of houses.

5 - The Crown Estate are pandering to locals' prejudices, and not admitting what they are doing. Which is the standard story everywhere.

6 - Alternative routes that will be forced to be used are significantly dangerous, so the CE action will create more casualties.

7 - The CE need to take a rational, rather than a prejudice based, position.

8 - It's wide enough that they could do something more useful.

9 - I suspect the body to watch for action are London Cycling Campaign for cycling, and various pedestrian groups.

Avatar
Rendel Harris replied to BigDoodyBoy | 1 month ago
9 likes

BigDoodyBoy wrote:

Wait guys. Is this a private road? On private land? Is there a right of access or some other sort of public right of way? Rather than get all het up about it, maybe some facts for context?

It's a road belonging to the Crown Estate, which manages property which belongs neither to the monarch's private estate nor to the government. The Crown Estate has a remit to manage said property in the national interest, so it's perfectly fair to challenge the fact that they have closed off a road where permissive access has existed for generations to the British public in order to satisfy the complaints of mainly foreign embassies and foreign billionaires. It is, essentially, land that belongs to the nation and has done since George III handed over control of his property in exchange for the civil list and being relieved of his financial responsibilities; in that context closing the road to the whole nation apart from a select handful of the super rich doesn't seem much like acting in the national interest.

Avatar
eburtthebike | 1 month ago
7 likes

"The street — which is home to several foreign embassies, such as Russia and Israel, France’s ambassadorial residence, and notable private residents such as former Chelsea FC owner Roman Abramovich, Tamara Ecclestone, daughter of former Formula 1 chief Bernie Ecclestone, and Princess Haya of Jordan,....."

I think that these people could do with a dose of reality, instead of living in their isolated ivory towers.  Maybe some cyclists in London could organise a protest ride there, complete with cameras, drones, the media and a police presence to ensure their safety.

Avatar
kingleo | 1 month ago
9 likes

The people who live in Kensington Palace Gardens should be banned from driving their cars in London because they are a danger to pedestrians and cyclists.

Avatar
Wheelywheelygood replied to kingleo | 1 month ago
1 like

Do you mean like the bikers who run into my wheelchair on the pavement because they haven't got any he brain power to realise riding on the pavement in crowded places like town centres and shopping malls where ignoreing the please dismount signs they rode through scattering families with small kids making parents jerk bugies sideways to avoid the brainless bikers , me in a chair which does not magically move sideways got the full force , unfortunately for brainless my chair is powered and much heavier and stronger built I got a really bad jolt very painfull but his wheel needed reserecting from the dead  ,serving him right people not shouting at him were having a good laugh 

Avatar
perce replied to Wheelywheelygood | 1 month ago
11 likes

I've started getting hedgehog poo in my back garden - it started a few weeks ago, a Tuesday I think it was. I assume this means hedgehogs are visiting my garden regularly. Anyway, we co-exist peacefully - we never see each other. Perhaps you could go out a little later, say between 2 and 4am and then you might avoid these errant cyclists. All the shops will be closed as well, which means you'll be saving money, which is always good. Watch out for the hedgehogs though! Hope this helps.

Avatar
ROOTminus1 replied to Wheelywheelygood | 1 month ago
5 likes
Wheelywheelygood wrote:

Do you mean like the bikers who run into my wheelchair on the pavement...

You are very consistent to report about such behaviour on this site, so I'm interested to know, how often does this happen to you?
You say it mostly happens in busy pedestrianised spaces, is that when it's so busy a crowd from a slightly elevated position would look like a sea of heads? I figure at that point someone might interpret a gap in that carpet of heads as free space when it's actually it's the space taken by you and your chair.

As the ~95% of users on this site are interested in cycling as sport, recreation, or commuting /general transport (remaining being resident trolls), we are almost certainly not the people recklessly interacting with pedestrians at crowd-shuffle pace. Collective responsibility only goes so far, and we as a community are equally unhappy with the minority who erode what little good faith remains when we are targeted as the vogue out-group. So, with the greatest respect and deepest sympathy for the troubles you face, I don't know what you hope to achieve by ranting in this forum

Avatar
brooksby replied to Wheelywheelygood | 1 month ago
8 likes

Assuming that these incidents do happen to you and aren't a work of fiction, what sort of responses do you get from the police? You do report them to the police, I trust...?

Avatar
ubercurmudgeon | 1 month ago
8 likes

The masses against the classes:

"The country was founded on the principle that the primary role of the government is to protect property from the majority. And so it remains."

Although, given the occupants of some of the buildings on and near that street, it might be more a case of the masses against the mass murderers.

Avatar
Hivizalways | 1 month ago
1 like

Just ban cyclists and horses from roads that motorists pay for. Simples

Avatar
Mr Hoopdriver replied to Hivizalways | 1 month ago
10 likes

Hypothetical quetion for you - if I am a car driver and I also ride a bicycle, would I be banned from these roads ?.

Of course you could just be a trolling (insert your own expletive here).

Just in case you are, as no roads are paid for by motorists, then there wouldn't be very many roads that cyclists and horse riders would be banned from and following from that there could actually be a valid reason to open all roads to cyclists and horse riders - including motorways though we'd probably have to have our own dedicated lane with the middle lane closed to motor traffice for our safety and all cars to be limited to the outer lane.

Avatar
perce replied to Hivizalways | 1 month ago
10 likes

That would be the M6 toll road then I suppose. Although I think they are banned from it already.

Avatar
Rendel Harris replied to Hivizalways | 1 month ago
11 likes

Hivizalways wrote:

Just ban cyclists and horses from roads that motorists pay for. Simples

So no roads at all, given that all cyclists pay taxes that pay for the roads. OK, that's fine.

Avatar
Geordiepeddeler replied to Hivizalways | 1 month ago
5 likes

Motorists don't pay for the roads. I am a cyclist and pay vehicle emissions tax on two vehicles. Now up until April 2022 that tax did NOT pay for the upkeep of the roads and even now only a small minority of that is filtered into the budget for road upkeep. So, going back to your theory, out of myself and you, who do you think deserves to use the roads? Yeah you might want to think about your rediculous narrow minded attitude and engage brain before opening your mouth. .

Avatar
Hirsute replied to Hivizalways | 1 month ago
9 likes

Bit early for summer holidays.
Oh for the time when trolls had some finesse and imagination.

Avatar
ktache replied to Hirsute | 1 month ago
5 likes

I'm guessing his far too large motor vehicle, purchased to compensate for inadequacies, is a dark colour, probably an oh so unique shade of grey, so making a nonsense of his username.

Avatar
wtjs replied to Hirsute | 1 month ago
8 likes

Oh for the time when trolls had some finesse and imagination

Agreed- we have here two nutter trolls with the usual type of unsubtle tripe.

Avatar
GYPSY replied to Hivizalways | 1 month ago
3 likes

Sorry but motorists don't pay for roads anymore we all do in our taxes
What you pay for is to drive 3 ton of metal on such roads .so what we should do is get along cyclist us cycle lanes ooooh forgot they usually blocked by cars hmmmmmmm see my point both got good and bad points 😊😊

Avatar
AidanR | 1 month ago
15 likes

The residents have made up safety concerns based on no collisions between cyclists and pedestrians, and instead put other people's safety at risk by forcing them onto surrounding roads with many reports of collisions between drivers and cyclists. The worst kind of selfish nimbyism.

Avatar
Boopop | 1 month ago
1 like

What happens if Critical Mass turns up there? Based on a previous article or at least its comments, I think bad things as I recall someone saying that the staff there were armed!

Avatar
Argos74 replied to Boopop | 1 month ago
2 likes

I was thinking about some form of outrageous compliance. Pedestrians are also banned from KPG, so that rules out the clown outfit flash mob. I had a look at google maps, was trying to work out the best way to get a lot of cyclists round the - not traffic light oontrolled - entrances to KPG using left turns only. Repeatedly. Until the riders run out of cake.

Avatar
mitsky | 1 month ago
3 likes

Well done to them for creating the so called "15 minute city" (not the true meaning of it, I know) that has been fake news untill now.

Avatar
brooksby | 1 month ago
6 likes

Quote:

Open use of this private roadway by the masses will cede its exclusivity 

Seems to me, that statement highlights the reasoning behind this so-called "temporary" closure.

"The masses"??!!  Seriously? 

Avatar
mctrials23 replied to brooksby | 1 month ago
6 likes

They meant the unwashed masses dear boy. 

Latest Comments