Speed limits in Richmond Park do not apply to cyclists, according to the Royal Parks, which manages the southwest London beauty spot as well as several other parks in the capital and Windsor Great Park.
The confirmation, in response to a question raised on Twitter last month, will hopefully put an end to confusion on the issue, with a number of cyclists having been fined in the past for riding in excess of a speed limit which applies only to motor vehicles.
Cyclists are not subject to speed limits on the public highway, but the special status of the Royal Parks, with separate bylaws in force, has muddied the waters, particularly in Richmond Park, which is hugely popular with road cyclists, particularly at weekends.
Indeed, as far back as 2013, after reports of cyclists being fined in Richmond Park, road.cc’s John Stevenson undertook a lengthy dissection of the regulations, coming to the conclusion that “there's grounds to fight a cycling speeding fine in Richmond Park” – although some have been fined since then.
Seeking clarification on the issue, on 2 September, Twitter user The Department of Parks & Recreation – who regularly posts pictures of cyclists being pulled over by police in the park for alleged speeding – asked the Royal Parks in a post: “How was the speed limit in Richmond Park suspended for the purposes of athletes cycling within the park for the London Duathlon, held on Sunday 5th September 2021?”
— The Department of Parks & Recreation 🦌 (@ldnparks) September 30, 2021
(There is one exception – Regents Park, where the roads are managed by a separate body, the Crown Estates Paving Commission).
The FOI Officer continued: “The speed limits on the roads are specified in The Royal Parks and Other Open Spaces Regulations 1997 as amended.
“Section 4 (28) requires that: ‘No person shall drive or ride any vehicle on a Park road in excess of the speed specified in relation to that road in Part II of Schedule 2 of these Regulations.’ (Part II schedule 2 lists the parks that that have vehicular access.)
“These regulations apply to motorised vehicles, not bicycles, and therefore the use of park roads by cyclists on events such as the London Duathlon is lawful. In answer to your specific question, the speed limits were not suspended for this event because they are not deemed to apply to bicycles.”
Tim Lennon, convenor of Richmond Cycling Campaign, told road.cc: “We've long suspected that cyclists in the park should be following the same rules as outside the park.
“We do receive complaints about cyclists speeding, the reality is that the vast majority of cyclists in the park are moving at a safe pace, and riding appropriately for the conditions.
“We love the Park, and it was awesome to see it being enjoyed by so many people during lockdown.
“The quicker Royal Parks act on their stated strategy to have a park for people rather than cars, the better,” he added.
We’re aware through social media that cyclists do still get pulled over by police in Richmond Park for breaking a supposed speed limit that has now been confirmed as not applying to them.
So, if you do ride there, it may be worth saving the letter from the Royal Parks FOI Officer to your phone, just in case you need to produce it if you are stopped.
Simon joined road.cc 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.