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When will The Royal Parks join in the cycling revolution?

Rik Andrew London SE6
12 June 2020

The cycle lane on Park Lane has to be the least useful temporary measure that even Transport for London could dream up (‘London: Park Lane traffic lanes cut from three to one’ LTT?29 May). Yes, there is a perfectly adequate – not narrow – cycle path inside Hyde Park, well away from traffic fumes, which is a much more attractive option, especially for the inexperienced cyclists that temporary measures are aimed at.

Kensington High Street is the logical continuation of the key strategic east-west route, and then through Kensington Gardens and Hyde Park. That is where temporary (and permanent) cycle lanes are required. But guess what, the ‘new’ ten years overdue CS9 route will end at Olympia; not exactly a ‘workplace destination’.

Notting Hill Gate-Holland Park Avenue is also crying out for cycle lanes.

Well done Edinburgh for its sensible programme of roadspace reallocation measures reported in the last issue (‘Scotland: Edinburgh scoops £5m as budget grows’). That’s much more like it. Now, can English cities come up with similar plans?

In London, the DfT’s statutory guidance on network management in response to Covid-19 should also apply to The Royal Parks, which has yet to implement its movement strategy. The Royal Parks says it supports active travel but it is not proposing any new routes for cyclists through any parks. Surely if it is keen to reduce cars in the parks it makes sense to provide more cycle routes, especially in those parks with few current routes (walking is rightly #1 but it has its limitations).

Limiting cycle access to just one or two designated paths means those few routes sometimes get overloaded. If the Royal Parks allowed cycling on other (wide) paths in Hyde Park then fewer people would use the existing perimeter path parallel to Park Lane. Given diagonal routes across the park, why would anyone cycle on Park Lane itself? 

The same is true for Kensington Gardens and Regent’s Park – there are plenty of other paths in both that could be designated for shared use, which would disperse users of existing routes. I know from first-hand experience that Regent’s Park paths have few users in the morning peak and not many walkers in the evenings. The north walk in Kensington Gardens is five metres wide, which is well wide enough for shared use. 

Green Park would also benefit from a north side route rather than everyone having to use the south side. And Greenwich Park north walk is wide enough for shared use and is a safe alternative to the A206 where fatalities occur.

Where cycling is allowed almost everywhere, e.g. Bushy Park, none of the paths become overloaded – and walkers there are much more accepting of shared use.

The City of London scrapped its ‘No Cycling’ restrictions in West Ham Park a few years ago and now allows open access on all its paths – they do not regret it. 

Having said all that, the best thing the Royal Parks could do would be prevent through traffic by closures/filters – as the DfT and 78 per cent of respondents want the Royal Parks to do – which would reduce traffic in parks by more than 90 per cent, making park roads more attractive to cyclists. It’s easy and cheap to close park roads e.g. Serpentine Bridge, which is what should have happened instead of Andrew Gilligan’s expensive over-engineered segregated tracks that are quite inappropriate in a park setting. 

And the Royal Parks should stay open 24 hours a day for active travel. Instead they close at 4pm in winter!

Strategy Programme Manager - Implementation
Hertfordshire County Council
£34,788 - £42,683 + £2000 market forces payment p.a.
Strategy Programme Manager - Implementation
Hertfordshire County Council
£34,788 - £42,683 + £2000 market forces payment p.a.
Strategy Programme Manager - Implementation
Hertfordshire County Council
£34,788 - £42,683 + £2000 market forces payment p.a.
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