Intelligent road charging

Bulletin #4, November 2017

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.

Thank you to everyone who has forwarded our last bulletin to their cycling friends and acquaintances - and hello to those who have signed up as a result. It’s especially heartening to see a relatively high number of women joining our mailing list. Increasing the participation of female riders (as well as children, disabled cyclists and the elderly) is an idea that we would like to develop, so in the coming weeks we will try to reach out to as many women who have signed up as we can.

In the meantime, our talks on Intelligent Road Charging continue. Over the past month or so we have met with Richmond Park MP Zac Goldsmith and the Green Party as well as arranging meetings with local MPs Ed Davey and Vince Cable. We also hope to present to the leaders of three boroughs adjacent to the park.

Local councillors whose wards are already affected when the park’s gates are shut from dusk until dawn are understandably concerned about the effects of Intelligent Road Charging. We have stressed only motorists using the park as a through route would be targeted and these drivers would not be excluded - they would just pay a toll. Groups such as blue badge holders, park residents and park workers would have dispensation, hence our emphasis on Intelligent Road Charging. And overall, we anticipate a reduction in motor traffic, which we would say is the right thing to do.

We met with The Royal Parks prior to commencing consultations and anticipate contact again soon. Its engagement and, ultimately, willingness to take the idea forward is key to making the road ahead less challenging.

MEETING POINTS

We always want you to tell us about specific issues that would improve your experience of cycling in the park. With this in mind, we thought it would be useful to outline two important forums where we represent your interests.

The first is the Richmond Park Police Panel which meets quarterly and sets priorities for the Met Police team. The panel has recently reestablished a road safety sub-committee, and we represent cycling interests there, too.

The second is the biannual Stakeholders’ Breakfast Meeting where The Royal Parks and the Met Police provide reports, as do the various other groups which are represented.

Senior figures from the abovementioned authorities attend both sets of meetings. Other attendees include the Friends Of Richmond Park, Richmond Park Wildlife Group, councillors

from Kingston, Richmond and Wandsworth, the Holly Lodge Centre (an active charity in the park), the Royal Ballet School and Pembroke Lodge. Dog walkers, the Parkrun and similar groups also send representatives.

We are your eyes and ears, but more importantly we contribute to social, personal and environmental welfare in the park. 

TRAIL TRAVEL

Getting away from traffic is a something we all want to do from time to time - and going off-road is a great way to explore Richmond Park by bike.

The principal and best-known track is the Tamsin Trail which pretty much circumnavigates the park. There is also a designated Transport for London Quietway through the middle featuring raised crossings at the two points where it intersects with the ring road. This route is designed to appeal to less confident cyclists. Other cycle tracks run parallel with the road. 

To see all the routes, have a look at the map on our website. Remember that these are the only routes that cyclists are authorised to use and the police could give you a Fixed Penalty Notice if you cycle anywhere else. This rule is enforced to avoid soil erosion caused by tyres creating rivulets.

Bridleways are for horse riders only. Maybe they should be shared - let us know what you think.

Most cycle tracks in the park are shared with pedestrians, which includes their dogs (which may not always be on a lead) and children. There is also the occasional deer to contend with and, on the stretch from Ham Cross to the ballet school, the odd car or two. So keep your wits about you!

With so many different types of park users on these paths, tensions can rise. Here, we focus on the safest and most considerate way of riding off-road in Richmond Park - and, once again, we invite you to give your opinions or offer anything we may have missed.

THE BEST WAY TO SHARE OFF-ROAD

  • Stick to the authorised trails.

  • Remember that the speed limit is 10mph and pedestrians have priority.

  • Look ahead for potential hazards and slow down or adjust your riding to reflect the conditions. 

  • A cycle bell is a valuable off-road tool. Give it a ding to alert others to your presence, especially when approaching other park visitors from behind.

  • Overtaking should be performed as you would on the road - it is what’s likely to be expected and most obvious. Leave plenty of space.

  • Thank other park users for acknowledging you and giving you space to pass.

  • Some path users are vulnerable and easily frightened. You may judge your actions to be acceptably safe but others may not. So before making your manoeuvre, ask yourself if it could cause fright or be perceived as discourteous or disrespectful. If so, hold back and rethink.

  • If you need to stop, make sure you get off the path.

  • Riding in a group? Single out as you slow down when encountering traffic. There are no hard-and-fast rules governing group size, but four riders is a good, manageable number.

  • The courtesy crossings at Sheen Cross and Ham Cross are for pedestrians as well as cyclists. Be aware that road users do not have to stop to let you cross.

  • Be alert to dogs off leads and stray deer.

  • Apologise if you are in the wrong, show your appreciation when other users give way and always respect the Royal Parks Police.

  • Ride a well-maintained bike and carry a spare inner tube, tyre levers and a pump or gas cartridge. If you see a fellow cyclist by the side of the trail who may need any of these, you could make his or her day by offering to help!

This is by no means an authoritative list, but we believe that promoting good behaviour will increase cyclists’ good reputation and standing in the park. Let us know what you think. 

PASS IT ON

Thanks for taking the time to read. Keep enjoying your riding in the park - even as the winter weather begins to creep in - and please feel free to forward this email to anyone you think may want to join our mailing list. Alternatively, direct them towards the Get Involved section of our website - richmondparkcyclists.org/get-involved/

All the best,

Richmond Park Cyclists

website: richmondparkcyclists.org

twitter: twitter.com/richmondpkcycle

facebook: facebook.com/richmondparkcyclists

Bulletin #1, July 2017

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 future bulletins a month before they appear here.    Hello, and welcome to Richmond Park Cyclists’ inaugural bulletin!     Firstly, thanks for your patience. As you are one of the scores of people who have signed up on our website, you have probably asked yourself what we have been up to. The answer is, quite a bit. We’ve set up a not-for-profit bank account with three of us as trustees, making our organisation a little bit more official. And following the publication of The Royal Parks’ draft report into traffic levels, and subsequent meetings with park stakeholders, we have decided to promote a clear, sensible idea to improve visitors’ experience of Richmond Park.    The idea is   Intelligent Road Charging  . We believe it will complement the park’s status as a National Nature Reserve, help promote it as a space for public recreation and sport (which are among the charitable objectives of The Royal Parks) and benefit every user. For all these reasons, we hope you will want to get behind it.    If you like the idea of Intelligent Road Charging, please forward this email to anyone - cyclists and non-cyclists - you think might be interested in supporting it. But before you do that, you will probably want to know more about the concept. So here’s some background to Richmond Park’s relationship with cyclists and the events that led to us forming Richmond Park Cyclists.    HOW WE BEGAN    Richmond Park is run by The Royal Parks. This charitable body regularly consults with stakeholder groups that represent the diverse types of park users and the Metropolitan Police. These meetings help shape the way The Royal Parks runs Richmond Park.    For years, The Royal Parks and the Met have sought ways of improving how they communicate with the cycling community. Reaching out to cycling clubs was only scratching the surface as most bike riders are not members of a club. So some of the cyclists who attend these meetings contacted a number of their cycling friends and acquaintances to form Richmond Park Cyclists.    In essence, we are a partnership that represents all types of cyclists - young and old, commuter or competitive, able-bodied or disabled - to the highest level of Richmond Park’s authorities and stakeholders.    This, for the moment, is our organising committee.     Paul Harknett – Former Chair, London Dynamo   Duncan Adamson – Slipstreamers' Coach   Peter Cunliffe – South Western Road Club   Derek Griffiths – Kingston Wheelers   Tim Lennon – Richmond Cycling Campaign   Justin Levene – Weir Archer Academy and Get Kids Going   Marina Lim – Commuter   Martin O'Sullivan – Deputy Head of Turing House School   Martin Winter – Twickenham Cycling Club    We welcome more support, so please get in touch if you would like to help out.    A WAY FORWARD    In December 2014, long before Richmond Park Cyclists formed, Zac Goldsmith MP held a public meeting in response to concerns he had received from constituents regarding the tensions between cyclists and motorists in the park. Such was the strength of opinion on both sides that the Richmond Park MP confessed to being nervous about the atmosphere that might have developed.     He needn’t have worried. The 250 attendees listened to the panel, which included representatives of the Royal Parks, Met Police, as well as councillors, stakeholders and traffic experts. And   the biggest applause of the evening - which came from cyclists and non-cyclists alike - was in response to the idea of charging drivers whenever they use the park as a shortcut.       Judging by the public’s reaction that night, implementing the concept of road charging in Richmond Park would be warmly welcomed by a good proportion of park users.    TOO MUCH TRAFFIC    Paul Harknett, who would later set up Richmond Park Cyclists, became part of the working group that Goldsmith convened on a number of occasions to pick through the various ideas proposed at the meeting.  Meanwhile, the Royal Parks carried out a traffic survey to gauge the level and types of motor traffic in Richmond Park.    A    draft report    from the Royal Parks published in March confirmed what you, as someone who visits the park, would probably have already suspected: there is too much unnecessary traffic.   Depending on the time of the week, between 68 and 91 percent of motor vehicles in Richmond Park are using it as a shortcut.    AN INTELLIGENT SOLUTION    Given the public support at the Goldsmith meeting for levying a fee against motor vehicles using the park as a shortcut, and the subsequent traffic statistics revealed in The Royal Parks’ report, it is clear to us that road charging is an idea worth exploring.     This is how we believe Intelligent Road Charging could work.    Drivers who have parked - either to have a walk, a run, a bike ride, a cup of tea or enjoy any other activity in Richmond Park - would pay nothing. But motorists simply passing through who enter and leave the park within a set time period would pay. They would not be excluded, but they might be deterred.    Details of motor vehicles that use this private road as a through route would be logged by Automatic Number Plate Recognition (ANPR) - a technology which is readily available to authorities these days. If the drivers of these vehicles do not register to pay, there would be a penalty charge. Displaced traffic - journeys that take place outside the park - is already accommodated when the gates are closed, including morning and evening peak periods in the winter, which shows there is capacity on these roads.    The London Congestion Charge has been running for more than 14 years. Transport for London has developed a sophisticated, cost-effective and easy-to-use model that, in our view, could be rolled out in Richmond Park. We will be engaging with The Royal Parks, park stakeholders, the three bordering London boroughs and Zac Goldsmith MP to explore how such a system could be most fairly deployed.    The advantages of Intelligent Road Charging are clear. It would:    *Reduce pollution and congestion in the park, which is an official National Nature Reserve    *Create a calmer atmosphere    *Make the roads safer to cross (for pedestrians and deer)    *Create an emptier road space that would be safer to enjoy by genuine park visitors     *Attract more people out of their cars and onto bikes. Women, children and disabled riders who are put off cycling by traffic and speeding cars (the draft report shows a significant number do this) would be offered a more welcoming environment     *Create revenue for the underfunded and overstretched Royal Parks which could be invested in the park and spent on its upkeep    THE NEXT STEPS    Intelligent Road Charging would take legislation to implement and could not be rolled out without proper consultation, so at this stage we are looking for as much support as possible. We believe the idea deserves broader consultation and support because it would improve the park for everyone - not just cyclists. So if you like what you have read, please   forward this email to your family, friends and acquaintances - regardless of whether they cycle or not - and encourage them to sign up to our mailing list so they can receive our updates.       There are many other more cycle-centric issues we would like to tackle, so if you can spare the time to help run our organisation, do get in touch by dropping us an email.     One of the areas we would like to have an impact upon is rider behaviour in the park. Unsafe and disrespectful cycling - even though it is practiced by a small minority - can create friction and hostility on the road and pathways that we all enjoy, so we aim to minimise such conflict by drafting advice for courteous riding. We hope all our supporters will see the value in following the advice, and that they will politely ask fellow cyclists to modify their behaviour if they see obvious transgressions. We know only too well that some motorists are prone to poor behaviour too, and as drivers ourselves we will also draft guidelines for driving in the park.    GET IN TOUCH    Thanks for reading. We welcome any feedback, so please email    richmondparkcyclists@gmail.com    with your comments - good and bad. We aim to get another update out in a month’s time. Until then, enjoy your cycling - and we’ll see you in the park!

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 future bulletins a month before they appear here.

Hello, and welcome to Richmond Park Cyclists’ inaugural bulletin!

Firstly, thanks for your patience. As you are one of the scores of people who have signed up on our website, you have probably asked yourself what we have been up to. The answer is, quite a bit. We’ve set up a not-for-profit bank account with three of us as trustees, making our organisation a little bit more official. And following the publication of The Royal Parks’ draft report into traffic levels, and subsequent meetings with park stakeholders, we have decided to promote a clear, sensible idea to improve visitors’ experience of Richmond Park.

The idea is Intelligent Road Charging. We believe it will complement the park’s status as a National Nature Reserve, help promote it as a space for public recreation and sport (which are among the charitable objectives of The Royal Parks) and benefit every user. For all these reasons, we hope you will want to get behind it.

If you like the idea of Intelligent Road Charging, please forward this email to anyone - cyclists and non-cyclists - you think might be interested in supporting it. But before you do that, you will probably want to know more about the concept. So here’s some background to Richmond Park’s relationship with cyclists and the events that led to us forming Richmond Park Cyclists.

HOW WE BEGAN

Richmond Park is run by The Royal Parks. This charitable body regularly consults with stakeholder groups that represent the diverse types of park users and the Metropolitan Police. These meetings help shape the way The Royal Parks runs Richmond Park.

For years, The Royal Parks and the Met have sought ways of improving how they communicate with the cycling community. Reaching out to cycling clubs was only scratching the surface as most bike riders are not members of a club. So some of the cyclists who attend these meetings contacted a number of their cycling friends and acquaintances to form Richmond Park Cyclists.

In essence, we are a partnership that represents all types of cyclists - young and old, commuter or competitive, able-bodied or disabled - to the highest level of Richmond Park’s authorities and stakeholders.

This, for the moment, is our organising committee.

Paul Harknett – Former Chair, London Dynamo
Duncan Adamson – Slipstreamers' Coach
Peter Cunliffe – South Western Road Club
Derek Griffiths – Kingston Wheelers
Tim Lennon – Richmond Cycling Campaign
Justin Levene – Weir Archer Academy and Get Kids Going
Marina Lim – Commuter
Martin O'Sullivan – Deputy Head of Turing House School
Martin Winter – Twickenham Cycling Club

We welcome more support, so please get in touch if you would like to help out.

A WAY FORWARD

In December 2014, long before Richmond Park Cyclists formed, Zac Goldsmith MP held a public meeting in response to concerns he had received from constituents regarding the tensions between cyclists and motorists in the park. Such was the strength of opinion on both sides that the Richmond Park MP confessed to being nervous about the atmosphere that might have developed.

He needn’t have worried. The 250 attendees listened to the panel, which included representatives of the Royal Parks, Met Police, as well as councillors, stakeholders and traffic experts. And the biggest applause of the evening - which came from cyclists and non-cyclists alike - was in response to the idea of charging drivers whenever they use the park as a shortcut.

Judging by the public’s reaction that night, implementing the concept of road charging in Richmond Park would be warmly welcomed by a good proportion of park users.

TOO MUCH TRAFFIC

Paul Harknett, who would later set up Richmond Park Cyclists, became part of the working group that Goldsmith convened on a number of occasions to pick through the various ideas proposed at the meeting.  Meanwhile, the Royal Parks carried out a traffic survey to gauge the level and types of motor traffic in Richmond Park.

A draft report from the Royal Parks published in March confirmed what you, as someone who visits the park, would probably have already suspected: there is too much unnecessary traffic. Depending on the time of the week, between 68 and 91 percent of motor vehicles in Richmond Park are using it as a shortcut.

AN INTELLIGENT SOLUTION

Given the public support at the Goldsmith meeting for levying a fee against motor vehicles using the park as a shortcut, and the subsequent traffic statistics revealed in The Royal Parks’ report, it is clear to us that road charging is an idea worth exploring.

This is how we believe Intelligent Road Charging could work.

Drivers who have parked - either to have a walk, a run, a bike ride, a cup of tea or enjoy any other activity in Richmond Park - would pay nothing. But motorists simply passing through who enter and leave the park within a set time period would pay. They would not be excluded, but they might be deterred.

Details of motor vehicles that use this private road as a through route would be logged by Automatic Number Plate Recognition (ANPR) - a technology which is readily available to authorities these days. If the drivers of these vehicles do not register to pay, there would be a penalty charge. Displaced traffic - journeys that take place outside the park - is already accommodated when the gates are closed, including morning and evening peak periods in the winter, which shows there is capacity on these roads.

The London Congestion Charge has been running for more than 14 years. Transport for London has developed a sophisticated, cost-effective and easy-to-use model that, in our view, could be rolled out in Richmond Park. We will be engaging with The Royal Parks, park stakeholders, the three bordering London boroughs and Zac Goldsmith MP to explore how such a system could be most fairly deployed.

The advantages of Intelligent Road Charging are clear. It would:

*Reduce pollution and congestion in the park, which is an official National Nature Reserve

*Create a calmer atmosphere

*Make the roads safer to cross (for pedestrians and deer)

*Create an emptier road space that would be safer to enjoy by genuine park visitors

*Attract more people out of their cars and onto bikes. Women, children and disabled riders who are put off cycling by traffic and speeding cars (the draft report shows a significant number do this) would be offered a more welcoming environment

*Create revenue for the underfunded and overstretched Royal Parks which could be invested in the park and spent on its upkeep

THE NEXT STEPS

Intelligent Road Charging would take legislation to implement and could not be rolled out without proper consultation, so at this stage we are looking for as much support as possible. We believe the idea deserves broader consultation and support because it would improve the park for everyone - not just cyclists. So if you like what you have read, please forward this email to your family, friends and acquaintances - regardless of whether they cycle or not - and encourage them to sign up to our mailing list so they can receive our updates.

There are many other more cycle-centric issues we would like to tackle, so if you can spare the time to help run our organisation, do get in touch by dropping us an email.

One of the areas we would like to have an impact upon is rider behaviour in the park. Unsafe and disrespectful cycling - even though it is practiced by a small minority - can create friction and hostility on the road and pathways that we all enjoy, so we aim to minimise such conflict by drafting advice for courteous riding. We hope all our supporters will see the value in following the advice, and that they will politely ask fellow cyclists to modify their behaviour if they see obvious transgressions. We know only too well that some motorists are prone to poor behaviour too, and as drivers ourselves we will also draft guidelines for driving in the park.

GET IN TOUCH

Thanks for reading. We welcome any feedback, so please email richmondparkcyclists@gmail.com with your comments - good and bad. We aim to get another update out in a month’s time. Until then, enjoy your cycling - and we’ll see you in the park!


Headline photography provided by
Andrew Robertson