Dear Royal Parks,
Please find below the official response from Richmond Cycling Campaign to the consultation on the Richmond Park quiet way section.
RCC represents over 1,000 local members of London Cycling Campaign, as well as thousands of others who cycle in our borough, and this response has been arrived at in discussion with a number of these stakeholders.
Borough Coordinator, Richmond Cycling.
RCC recognises that extensive effort has gone into this consultation, and we welcome the clear interest, in Royal Parks staff we have engaged with, in making the parks better for walking and cycling. We also welcome the interest Royal Parks shows in supporting the idea of a proper, attractive quiet way through Richmond Park. However, we have a number of concerns with the proposal as it stands, and these are elaborated below.
In general, this proposal seems somewhat nuclear on a number of major issues:
1. There’s already a nice clear tarmac network through the park, but it is not suitable for use for the quietway because of the high volume of motor traffic.
2. This seems to have resulted in proposals which imply that the central section of the proposed quiet way should be accessed via the Tamsin Trail / partly made paths from the gates.
3. These paths are not appropriate for cycling, because of their width, their shared nature, and their surfacing. The introduce conflict with pedestrians and provide uncomfortable riding conditions.
4. The central part of the route is too narrow – not only is the path of variable quality all along the sides, rendering the effective width less, but in this part of the route, it is virtually impossible for any volume of walking and cycling to interact comfortably.
5. The proposed route is already a signed cycle route. None of the changes proposed – using cycling money – are actually going to provide any material improvements to cycling in the park. It might even be argued that they are increasing the chance of conflict with pedestrians.
6. A wide range of parties have made it very clear that the most effective single change in Richmond Park, both for cycling and for the park itself, would be to curtail the volumes of motor traffic. Yet nothing is proposed for this.
7. Richmond Park could immediately be made better for walking and cycling by the limiting of through motor traffic, yet this proposal seems not to mention it. Most of the things discussed here are unlikely ever to be needed, if only we could make cycling attractive on the perfectly appropriate main ring.
Taking the consultation points in order:
If this is a pedestrian and cyclist crossing, it implies that cycling should be using the Tamsin Trail / walkways here to access the park.This should not be the case: there is a perfectly good road, and the Royal Parks should not be proposing a ‘dual provision’ solution.
The proposal about surface texture is worrying – we know that poor and jarring surfaces are not pleasant for riders with disabilities, handcycles, etc. There’s no defined reason why this needs to be here. All sightlines are clear and unobstructed, so it isn’t clear how someone could be unaware of potential conflict.
Again, the crossing and design implies that cycling is being asked to use the pedestrian path / shared use path here. This really needs to be made very clear, because it is not a suitable surface for cycling, nor is it suitable for the volume, either. As with other sections like this, the priority should be to calm motor traffic in order to make cycling better.
Again, this design seems to focus on cyclists using the paths and not the road. The paths are not of a standard – width or surface – to usefully accommodate cycling, meaning that it’s another attempt at dual provision.
If, in fact, the crossing is about making it nicer to walk across this crossing, with the assumption that cyclists will be on the road, then the question becomes: “Why are we spending cycling money on something that isn’t for cycling?” Because if this crossing is a problem, it’s hard to believe that the problem is caused by cycling …”
This is altogether too narrow, and is effectively designed conflict with pedestrians because it is so narrow. This route is unlikely to work unless it is widened, how ever much we spend on ‘pedestrian priority’ warnings.
Pen Ponds entrance
This appears to be more money being spent for a problem that hasn’t been shown. This route has hundreds of pedestrian and cycling interactions a day, yet doesn’t seem to be a problem at the moment.
If this is pedestrian priority, why is there no signage for horse riding?
Again, it isn’t clear what the problem is here with cycling: it looks like more signage with little value, and little effort to actually make this – as proposed – a proper quiet way.
It is somewhat perplexing that the pathways under discussion apparently need extensive signage and design in order to ‘educate’ those on bicycles. Yet on the roads through the park, where almost every single KSI incident happens, there is no change at all. The clear implication is that Royal Parks believe park users (and animals) to be more at risk from people on bicycles than people in cars, despite all the countervailing evidence.