Each month, we are emailing a bulletin to everyone who has signed up on this site. Below is last month's mailout. If you like it, please sign up on our Get Involved section - you will be showing your support for our work and you will receive our free monthly bulletins a month before they appear here. Have a look at our first bulletin to find out more about how RPC was formed and why we are progressing the idea of reducing traffic in the park by charging for shortcut journeys.
Welcome to the final bulletin of Richmond Park Cyclists’ inaugural year - and thank you to everyone who has signed up since our last monthly missive.
Richmond Park’s biannual Stakeholders’ Breakfast Meeting, which we mentioned in our previous bulletin, took place a few weeks ago. We attended the meeting to introduce Richmond Park Cyclists to the various stakeholder groups and outline the case for charging motor vehicles using the park as a shortcut. Our representative at the meeting graciously bore the brunt of one local councillor’s somewhat robust response to the intelligent road charging idea. Others present were clearly less sanguine and proffered quiet words of support. Cool heads, we hope, will progress the idea as talks continue next year and beyond.
CROSSING THE LINES
Encouragingly, one of the authorities at the Breakfast Meeting who we always wanted to reach out to cyclists through RPC has asked us to include an item in this bulletin. So here is a useful couple of tidbits from the Parks’ Police which we are passing on...
You will probably have noticed double white lines when you cycle up Broomfield Hill and Dark Hill. But did you know that it is actually legal to cross double white lines in some circumstances?
In accordance with rule 129 of the Highway Code, drivers can overtake provided you are cycling at 10mph or less and the road is clear. They can overtake horse riders or road maintenance vehicles as well - but not cars or other vehicles.
Also, do be mindful of queuing traffic behind you when riding two abreast. There is a considerable grey area surrounding the interpretation of rule 66 of the Highway Code (“never ride more than two abreast, and ride in single file on narrow and busy roads and when riding around bends”) but showing consideration to other road users instead of holding them up goes down a treat. The Parks’ Police suggest singling out for a few seconds when safe to do so if there is traffic behind so that it might pass..
No doubt you will have noticed ice on the park’s roads if you cycled there during the past week or so. We have been speaking to The Royal Parks to establish what can be done to make conditions as safe as possible for cycling when the temperature drops to around freezing point or below. But you may be asking why it seems that the park’s roads and paths are not always salted or gritted in icy or snowy weather.
The answer is partly explained by environmental concerns. As Richmond Park is a National Nature Reserve, TRP tries to avoid adding salt unnecessarily, which can have an effect on the ecology and landscape. The other factor is unpredictable weather: residual water can freeze in isolated areas even if the overall temperature is above freezing, and when the roads are gritted, overnight rain can sometimes wash it away.
So bear in mind that TRP staff do check for ice, sometimes as early as 3am, and they will often lay salt and grit. But there are also steps you can take to make sure you cycle safely.
Check the weather forecast before you set out - and remember the air temperature in the park can be 3C colder than the surrounding areas.
Look at the notice boards at the entrance gates. If TRP are concerned that conditions may be sketchy, it will put up “Caution: Ice” signs.
Consider switching to winter tyres with a softer compound when the temperature drops. The grip will help you stay upright, as will reducing the tyre pressure. Tyres with a grip tread typically used on mountain bikes will assist on snow and have a limited benefit on ice.
The off-road Tamsin Trail might be a grippier alternative to slippery tarmac. But if in doubt, dismount. Walking may take you longer - but you’ll get to your destination in one piece!
We happened to meet women’s cycling advocate Belinda Scott by chance at an event in Sigma Sport bike shop. We subsequently had a successful meeting with her where we explained the aims and purpose of Richmond Park Cyclists. Belinda runs a Facebook group for women cyclists called Bellavelo and we hope to work with her in the future.
Increasing the number of women cyclists using the park - as well as children, the disabled and the elderly - is an important aim for RPC. As we mentioned last month, we have had an unexpectedly high number of women signing up to our mailing list, and we’ll be reaching out to as many of them as possible. So if you are one of them, keep an eye on your inbox!
WE’RE MAKING A LIST…
Next year, we’re aiming to keep you informed about everything bike-related going on in the park as well as anything that may impact your cycling there, such as the gate closures for the annual deer cull. We’ll put together a calendar of events - and as usual, our wonderful subscribers will be the first to know what’s happening in the month ahead. Another great reason to encourage your cycling friends to sign up!
We also want to keep RPC a free service. To this end, we have begun speaking to local clubs and businesses about the possibility of a little financial support.
In the meantime, you can help us by forwarding this email to anyone you think may want to receive our bulletins. The bigger our mailing list, the more people we can represent when speaking to the park’s authorities and stakeholder groups.
Have a great Christmas and New Year, wrap up warm and enjoy your cycling in the park.
All the best,
Richmond Park Cyclists