Each month, we are emailing a bulletin to everyone who has signed up on this site. Below is the mailout that we sent in March. 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.
THAT’S ONE WAY TO SOLVE A PROBLEM
We all love riding in Richmond Park - although getting into it is another matter, with traffic levels around the entrances increasing over the past few years. The area by Kingston Gate has become an accident blackspot, so you may want to have your say about a proposal drawn up by the borough’s officials, prompted by a petition by local residents, to ease congestion around the area.
The central idea is a one-way system for motor vehicles on the east-west roads that connect Park Road with Queen’s Road, the latter of which which directly faces Kingston Gate. Cyclists would still be able to travel both ways.
The three east-west roads are King’s Road, which has Kingston Gate at its easternmost point, New Road and Tudor Road. The plan is to have no entry to motor vehicles at King’s Road and New Road’s west junctions with Park Road, and the eastern entry to Tudor Road (the junction with Queen’s Road). From what we can make out of the low-resolution images on the council’s website, there is a cycle lane sketched on King’s Road which appears to be a contraflow - west to east heading towards Kingston Gate, with motor traffic going the other way.
We believe that accessibility and cyclists’ safety would be improved if the scheme is implemented. If you would like to have your say, please fill in the questionnaire that the council is using to gauge public opinion. We’ll keep you posted on the progress of the plan.
KEEPING YOU IN THE LOOP
We’d like to extend a special hello and thank you to everyone who met us when we recently handed you one of our promotional postcards and subsequently signed up to our little monthly bulletin. One of the commonest queries we get on such occasions, and via our inbox, is about ideas to improve cyclists’ experience of the main loop. Why can’t there be specific infrastructure for cyclists, or a one-way system for motor traffic?
The truth is, most of the ideas suggested to us have already been considered by The Royal Parks following a public meeting held by Richmond’s MP Zac Goldsmith at the end of 2014. At this stage, the idea borne from that event that is most likely to gain traction is Intelligent Road Charging - setting a fee for shortcut journeys through the park made by motor vehicles - which is why we have been exploring the idea with stakeholders and local politicians.
But we thought it would be useful to outline why some of the ideas have not been adopted, so here is a brief explainer of each.
One-way for motor vehicles only: Cyclists would get one direction all to themselves - but emissions would increase due to the additional mileage, and it was felt that some visitors driving to the park would be deterred from coming. As a consequence, the income that The Royal Parks derive from tenant businesses (calculated as a proportion of their turnover) would fall.
Separate cycle paths parallel to road: A road engineer on the panel of Zac Goldsmith’s 2014 meeting suggested that a separate cycle lane could be placed next to the existing road on the climb of Broomfield Hill, thereby allowing motorists to overtake cyclists who, naturally, slow down as they go up. But in keeping with Richmond Park’s status as a National Nature Reserve and Site of Special Scientific Interest, The Royal Parks has a policy of not removing any more green space - which would be necessary if more tarmac was laid down.
Painted cycle lane on road: The circuit road varies in width, but in theory a cycle lane could be painted in one direction, at least, on the widest parts. The drawback is that it would encourage motorists to drive closer to the middle of the carriageway, even when not overtaking cyclists - which could endanger oncoming riders overtaking cars.
Close the roads to motor vehicles at regular, specific periods: At the 2014 public meeting, a vote put by Goldsmith to the attendees decided that The Royal Parks and interested stakeholders would look at the the possibility of barring cars from entering at certain times of day. Saturday mornings, for example, when cyclists flock to the park, could be completely free of motor traffic. But after discussion, it was felt that it would simply increase the number of cars left outside the gates to unmanageable levels, particularly in free parking zones. Also, the elderly, disabled visitors and families with young children would have their access restricted or made impossible during the specified periods, particularly if they had to travel long distances without the use of a car.
Even though all of the above are unlikely to be implemented, you can still tell us about other ideas you may have, and we will put them to the authorities to find out what they think.
KEEP ’EM PEELED
Cycle thefts in the park are rare - but sadly, as you will already know if you follow us on Twitter or Facebook, there have been three reported to the police in the past few weeks. We asked The Royal Parks to put up signs at Roehampton Gate Cafe warning cyclists to be aware that a miscreant or two might make off with your pride and joy if you are not too careful. TRP speedily acted on our suggestion, getting the signage up in time for the usual weekend influx of cyclists, and we thank them for doing so. Now we are doing our bit by spreading the word about the three incidents. All of them occurred outside the cafe.
The first took place in late January when a young white male, approximately 18 years old wearing grey tracksuit trousers and a black hooded coat, took a red ladies Trek Emonda which had been parked unsecured by the decking. He had an accomplice who appeared to be on his own bike. The owner of the Trek, who had been having a coffee with a friend, gave chase until the two disappeared out of Roehampton Gate.
The other two bikes - a Specialized and a Canyon - were taken on Sunday 17th February at approximately 10:15am. We do not have any more details about these two thefts.
The three cyclists who had their bikes stolen have our sympathy. Most of us find it impractical to bring a heavy lock to the park, but if you want to deter a thief you may want to consider popping a portable cafe lock into your pocket before heading out. Alternatively, if you are riding with a friend, wrap the straps of your helmets around the top tube of your frames and release the front wheels so the tyres are resting against the brake pads. If a thief can’t make a quick getaway, they are less likely to take your bike.
If you have any information about the stolen bikes or any other theft-related news, let us know and we’ll pass the information on to PC Paul Barber from Richmond Park’s police team.
SEE YOU NEXT MONTH
That’s all for this bulletin. As ever, please share this newsletter with your cycling friends - and if they like what they read, encourage them to sign up to our mailing list too.
All the best,
Richmond Park Cyclists