Route: Richmond Park Gate to Richmond Bridge

A perennial complaint has been about cyclists using the footway to descend Richmond Hill against the one-way system. We have argued that the legitimate route which has the benefit of filtered permeability P1010453a

has lost many of its signposts so cyclists are using the obvious route for fear of getting lost. Many of the signs have now been restored (Thank you Richmond Council)

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However, in the process, the Castle Yard cut through has been deleted so that cyclists are sent right down to congested Paradise Rd which we are not happy about. The RCC rides rep had a meeting with a council engineer discussing where signing is still not clear and we came up with a route using a contra-flow in Ormond Rd. To avoid head-to-head confrontations the engineer suggested that the carriageway should be raised level with the footway allowing cyclists to move to the side should they meet a (rare) vehicle coming the other way. NIce to get imaginative ideas from the other side – we are so used to “can’t do that”.

Can Zac help fix Richmond Park?

Dear Mr. Goldsmith,

(Image by “The Cycling Dutchman”) http://thecyclingdutchman.blogspot.co.uk/2013/09/london-by-bike-in-three-days-east-west.html

Thank you for organising the meeting about Richmond Park, before Christmas. Richmond Cycling Campaign is really keen to help make the park a great place for everyone, so we’d like to share some thoughts and feedback.

The park is for everyone

This was a big theme at the meeting, although there seemed to be some element of consensus that Richmond Park is not merely a through-route for people moving around different parts of the borough. But we’d like to emphasise something else, here. Perhaps because the most visible cycling in the park is club or competitive or sport cycling, little thought was given to other forms of cycling. Whenever you talk to the Royal Parks, or indeed your working group, we’d like to remind you that not only is there an off-road trail which is consistent source of conflict, but that the park also needs to be accessible to everyone on a bike. This means that children need to be able to ride round, as does anyone else who is powering themselves – handcycles, trikes, people with shopping, etc.

Codes of conduct

Much was made by some panelists about having a code of conduct for park users, and indeed there’s one that was circulated at the meeting. Aside from the basic point that there’s already a perfectly usable set of legislation to govern use of the park, we would be concerned about issuing a code of conduct unless strenuous efforts were made to ensure that it is circulated to all users in the park, and not just those on cycles.

Some Data would be good

As Andrew Gilligan and a number of people observed, the whole conversation needs some actual data. The only data we’ve seen – the STATS19 data, and the Friends’ traffic survey – show that cycling is the most vulnerable thing to do in the park, yet can also provide a very significant majority of traffic at some points during the week. Unfortunately, as Gilligan also noted, cycling attracts a large volume of complaints despite causing virtually no danger to cars, and significantly less danger to pedestrians. We aren’t arguing for cycling to be treated differently, but just to be treated fairly.

Let’s try some things

In the last few years, New York has been very successful with ‘trying things out’ – using low cost trials which can be easily reversed. Recently, the borough of Camden has done the same. The outcome of these experiments is that for small investments, it is possible to get a good idea of what possible solutions might actually work. We think the same could be done in Richmond Park – your advisory panel could consider simple, limited ideas which run for a short period, in order to establish what longer term solutions could be good for the park.

Finally, cycling needs to be safe, and feel safe

Our biggest message though, is that thousands of people in the borough don’t cycle or cycle rarely, because they don’t think it’s safe to do so. And the Space for Cycling guidelines – which echo best Dutch practice – make it very clear that Richmond Park’s roads are simply not of a sufficient standard to make getting on a bicycle of any type an attractive option for many of the people who should – by rights – see the park as a great place to visit by bike, or to use as a safe way to get from Richmond to Kingston, Roehampton, etc. So if you believe that cycling is a good thing which benefits not just those who cycle but society generally – as we do – then you’ll support the Royal Parks in trying to make Richmond Park a place for everyone.

We welcome the opportunity to engage with your working group on the Park.

 

Yours sincerely,

Richmond Cycling Campaign.

Greening the Infrastructure Bill – Urgent

It’s been described by George Monbiot as “the Climate Change Act’s evil twin”. The Infrastructure Bill is entering a crucial stage in Parliament today, and we need your help to get your MP voting for important changes to what it will do. Both the local MPs have Green aspirations so they should be susceptible to public pressure.

With £15 billion being set aside in the Bill for road investment, and a new ‘Strategic Highways Company’ being created, your MP’s vote will be needed to pass a range of vital amendments that will make the company:

  • Protect the environment and communities from problems like noise and air pollution
  • Work with local authorities when it makes new plans, so it doesn’t just focus on widening main roads
  • Stop the new ‘watchdog’ only sticking up for motorists and make it stick up for people living near main roads too

Sixteen health, environment and transport charities  are also asking for a whole new Cycling and Walking Investment Strategy to be added to the Bill. This will guarantee long-term national investment in cycling and walking, in the same way that rail and roads will be funded if the Bill passes.

Please use our quick and easy tool to write to your MP now and ask them to vote the right way when the Infrastructure Bill comes to the House of Commons in the next few days.

Tell your MP to help sort out the Infrastructure Bill

Bike Marking – from Fulwell Police SNG.

Please be advised and make aware as many residents as possible about future bike marking events on Fulwell and Hampton Hill beat:

14/01/2015 16:00-17:00 – Fulwell Rail Station

17/01/2015 14:30-15:30 – Bushy Park gate (end of the High Street Hampton Hill – opposite to The Rising Sun Pub)

26/02/2015 17:00-18:00 – Fulwell Rail Station

As you may know theft of bikes from sheds is a concern across the London; often expensive bikes are left unsecure or locked with very cheap lock in poorly secured sheds.

These events will give the opportunity to mark & register your bikes, and learn how to secure your property.

Ham to Richmond – January 2015 update

Progress on the Ham & Petersham & Richmond Riverside Ward Ask – to create a safe properly surfaced route for walking and cycling between Ham and Richmond.

Latest Developments – Cut Throat Alley improvements

Councillors Frost and Loveland have been on the case and addressed one part of the route: Cut Throat Alley – with excellent results. Here are before and after photos. cutthroatalleyfeb 2014 IMG_0558 This is a real success for all. LCC’s Election campaign combined with local group campaigning, and the persistence and dedication of Councillors Loveland and Frost has made this happen. The work carried out in December immediately turned a slippery and uninviting quagmire into a pleasant attractive path. The addition of the dropped curbs and surfaced path across the green makes it easy for people with buggies, scooters and bikes to cross from Riverside Drive. IMG_0563 Cut Throat Alley is an important link partly because it is a route that can be used when the riverside path floods, but it is also an off road shortcut to the Russell, Strathmore and German Schools. The mud put many people off walking or cycling with their kids to school. The path is officially for walking only but because it is narrow and winding, those with bikes either dismount or cycle very cautiously, giving pedestrians priority – the new surface does not seem to have changed this behaviour. Now this route just needs to be included in the Council’s leaf clearing and maintenance schedule. Another much needed repair was carried out in November on the previously muddiest section of the path next to Petersham Field, where it meets Buccleuch Gardens. Photos show before and after. petersham meadow mud Feb 2014   petersham meadow repaired Dec 14 Now the worst part of the path is the least bad! This repair is not a long term solution but is still a valuable improvement to the route. It also shows that it is worth logging repair complaints on the LBRuT website.  I have seen how this can produce results as long as it counts as a repair rather than a change to the infrastructure. It helps if you can detail why the current state of affairs is dangerous.  http://www.richmond.gov.uk/streets_fault_reporting

Going Forward

There is still much to be done to make the whole route between Ham and Richmond safe and inviting. See http://www.richmondlcc.co.uk/2014/11/02/ham-to-richmond-reconnaissance-ride-12-july-2014/ for more details. In November myself and another local resident spoke at a meeting for the recently established Ham & Petersham Forum.  We put this project forward as one that the Forum could support, in order to help create a healthy, sustainable transport link for the community. This was met with a positive reception from the 150 local people present. This could lead to funding or at least wider local support for the project. All three elected Councillors in the Ward of Ham & Petersham & Richmond Riverside signed up to this LCC Ward Ask, so I hope and expect that they will continue to push for improvements to the rest of the route. The question remains why so many people would still rather choose this route on the Petersham Road jampetershamrddark rather than this one, along the riverside Richmondbridgeview There are aspects that make the off road routes unsafe, difficult or impossible for people on foot, or with kids buggies, or with bikes, bikes with kids trailers, or in wheelchairs, to use this route, such as :

  • mud

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  • flooding

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  • gates that are difficult to negotiate

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We wish to push the Council to explore potential ways to improve the quality of the paths, without losing the semi-rural quality of the routes, and without creating conflict between different path users. The more people who are able to walk and cycle along this route, the less congested Petersham Road will be, and the more space there will be for those who have no choice but to drive.

Rides for Everyone – Sunday 15th February – Park and Riverside

Meet Strawberry Hill station 10.15.

We go through Bushy Park to Hampton Court – watch out for Snowdrops and then follow the Thames back to Strawberry Hill. More than half the ride off-road but decent surfaces. Coffee break en-route. Flat 10 miles so back by 12ish depending on how long we spend over coffee.

Route

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Please contact me if you are thinking of coming Paul : – rides@richmondlcc.co.uk

Have your say on Cycling in Richmond Park

On December 17th, Zac Goldsmith is hosting a meeting about Richmond Park. We don’t want this to be another “cyclists ate my hamster” session, so we’ve got together with Kingston Wheelers, London Dynamo, Twickenham Cycling Club, Barnes Cycling Club, Chevaliers, Kingston Juniors, and Kingston’s own LCC branch, to make the case for why cycling in the park is a good thing, and why the Royal Parks need to be doing more for it.

Here’s our view, and you can find the meeting details here. Come along and support cycling for all in one of the finest natural reserves we have access to.

Richmond Park is there for everyone, and we want it to stay that way. The present situation, where cycling can comprise up to 75% of all the traffic in the park, is clearly objectionable to some users.

However, the usual reaction – especially in the letters page of the local papers, and in frequent conversations even at the Police Liaison Group – is that cycling, and people who choose to cycle, are the villains in this piece. None of the groups representing cycling will tell you ‘All cyclists are angels’, because breaking the law on a bicycle is almost as endemic as breaking the law in a car. That makes it neither right nor acceptable, but we believe that it is time proper consideration were given to making sure Richmond Park can continue to be a recreational space for the thousands of people who flock there, week in, week out.

There are a number of issues that any proposed solution needs to address:

  1. The park is a wildlife haven and Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI). It is home to a huge variety of wildlife, large and small.
  2. The park is used by large volumes of traffic during the day which is avoiding roads outside, or ‘rat-running’.
  3. It’s a recreational space for walking and hiking, with the current road effectively acting as a continuous pedestrian crossing. The Tamsin Trail is also used extensively for walking.
  4. It is also a recreational space for cycling, with cyclists tending to use either the main circular route, or the Tamsin Trail.
  5. A number of businesses operate in the park, and require access for themselves and their customers.
  6. This is a park, and therefore street furniture such as posts, signage, etc. is not very desirable. (Although there is clear value in some signage to support safety needs.).
  7. So far as possible, the park needs to be accessible to everyone - whether able-bodied, or with some form of disability.

And there have been quite a few ideas previously floated for how to deal with this combination of issues. But what we think that The Royal Parks needs to consider is this:

What is the purpose of the park, and how can that best be fulfilled?

We think the park is a resource that everyone should be able to enjoy, however they visit it.

Of the proposals we’re aware of, we think there are pros and cons for each of them.

One way traffic

One way traffic will basically encourage the park to be used as a race track one way, and will encourage commuting / rat-running in the given direction, as well as actually requiring more driving (wasted time and pollution) round the park as people have to circumnavigate it in order to get to a particular place.

Congestion charging in the park

Charging people to enter the park if they don’t stay beyond a specific time (for example, charging those who stay for 20 minutes or less), will discourage through traffic.

More pedestrian crossings

Although pedestrians can (and should be able to) cross anywhere in the park, there’s a good case for providing clear places for crossing especially around the car parks. and particularly busy areas. It should not be necessary for a zabra crossing to have the full DfT-mandated paraphernalia of zig zags, Belisha Beacons, etc., as evidence from other 20mph locations indicates good compliance where the crossing is clear.

A new cycle-only route round the park

In the Netherlands, the usual guidance is to build separate provision for cycling when motor traffic is above a particular volume, and or a particular speed. We believe that while the speed of traffic in the park – where the limits are observed – might not require segregation, the volumes certainly do.

Through traffic bans

The park is an area for recreation and for nature, yet there is a significant volume of traffic which uses it as a cut-through to various locations. Especially given the sensitive nature of the park environment, and the very real danger that is posed to wildlife and to other park users by high volumes of traffic which is keener to get somewhere than to enjoy the surroundings.

And a possibly contentious point to make …

If we accept the premise of the public meeting that there is very real conflict in the park, experienced by all users, then we should follow the logic of many such conversations, which come round to “Well, whose fault is it?

On a fundamental level, the conflict which is experienced in the park reflects the day to day experience of driving, walking and cycling in London generally. Many conversations that we’ve heard tend to pick out ‘cyclists’, and often ‘club cyclists’ as significant offenders, and anecdotal evidence is usually called upon to demonstrate how cyclists ‘intimidate’ other road users, including the slightly bizarre assertion in the last Friends of the Royal Park newsletter, that cyclists are a danger to wildlife. (We’ve yet to find someone who wouldn’t stop their bike to avoid hitting a deer …)

At the same time, we hear stories of intimidation, dangerous driving and actual assaults from people who cycle in the park. (As well as stories of dogs causing riders to fall off on the Tamsin Trail, and cyclists intimidating pedestrians there.)

Our response to all of these is simple. Firstly, what does the data say? An investigation of the STATS19 data shows that bicycles are overwhelmingly the victims in Richmond Park incidents, with the other party invariably motor vehicles. Secondly, we argue that no amount of discussion around sharing, mutual consideration or other such proposals is going to resolve the problems in the park, because there is simply too much traffic on the small area allocated to it. .

And this is, very simply, because it is inappropriate to have this volume of cycling and driving traffic in the same place. People who drive, walk and cycle through the park are no more or less lawless than anyone else in London. The solution to this problem is the same as the solution which is about to be implemented in central London – proper and safe separation of the modes, so that both can be done without conflict.

Sustrans campaign to get cycling and walking added to Infrastructure Bill

I had had an email from Sustrans in association with other cycling groups :

The Infrastructure Bill has proposed a five year investment plan for strategic roads whilst rail already has such a plan in place. However, there is no similar framework in place for cycling and walking.

 We would like MPs to back an amendment to the Infrastructure Bill to guarantee long-term ambition and funding for cycling and walking, including local road maintenance.

We are now at a critical stage as MPs will get the chance to propose amendments and debate the need for such a proposal in December and January.

 We need your help. Please write to your MP and ask them to support an amendment to the Infrastructure Bill.

Write to you MP now

Both our local MPs should be sympathetic but having constituents letters helps their backbones !