Bushy Park – Will Common Sense Prevail?

Both Richmond Park and Bushy Parks should be havens for considerate cycling by all, yet the Royal Parks seem able to fix neither of them.

The latest mess involves Duke’s Head Passage in Bushy Park, where the Royal Parks appear to have decided without consultation that it should no longer be possible to ride along it.

Image by Jonathan Cardy via Wikimedia

Image by Jonathan Cardy via Wikimedia

You can see what the ride is like, courtesy of this simple video from one of our members. It clearly shows him proceeding happily down the path, and able to interact with dog walkers, children and other users.

Yet the Royal Parks, in correspondence with other members tell us:

“Our highlighted notification of the Regulations (… that have always been present though not enforced as the cause was previously not great enough) is done to carry out our responsibility serving everyone best.”

They carry on:

“No one is excluded from using the route. Walking a cycle for about ten minutes at the very most and keeping a dog on a lead are very small compromises …”

You can see other comments on the changes on the Richmond and Twickenham Times article and the Hampton Ning, and local MP Tania Matthias has weighed in, too, apparently very supportive of banning cycling here.

It’s probably no surprise that Richmond Cycling Campaign isn’t happy about another route for cycling being blocked, and it’s also no surprise that the changes seem to be being largely ignored by users of the route. We’ve already been contacted by a number of members. Things they’ve said include:

“I can now only walk with two sticks because of a back problem [a friend] has a blue badge and can definitely not walk that far… we can both cycle pain-free for 6-10 miles and enjoy getting our fresh air and exercise that way.”

“I have cycled along this passage hundreds of times since 1967, and it has been part of cycle route 168 ever since we started putting safe cycle routes on maps.”

“Dukes Head Passage is a very important and safe cycle route between Teddington and Hampton, used by commuters and school pupils during the week … ”

“I can’t see that pushing a bike is any better as that takes up more width … it is not a speedy thoroughfare … ”

“I have cycled in the passage for years to get into the park or to ride to Kingston. I cycle with care and consideration towards other users. In my experience, cyclists, dog walkers and runners have got along quite happily without this enforcement. Clearly there must have been ‘an incident’ but I am sure this was an exception rather than the rule. In fact the only raised voices I have ever heard was after the signs went up – and that was people complaining to each other of the unreasonableness of the enforcement! Are we to expect regular police patrols in this leafy little passage? What a waste of resources!”

“Before the ban I cycled with my 6 year old from Ham to Hampton Pool, and also to friends in Hampton. For a child, this extra walking distance makes a real difference. Even for adults this move does the opposite of making cycling a travel choice that is comfortable and easy.”

We’d like to see these signs removed, and the path made suitable for all users – clearly narrower paths like this require pedestrian priority, and we actively support this, but pedestrian priority does not mean making it useless for others.

If you feel like us about this, then write to the local MP, or to the Park manager, or local councillor Gareth Roberts. Feel free to copy us in (info@richmondlcc.co.uk) or drop us a line and we will collate all the responses.

Get yourself some on-street parking!

Richmond has its first BikeHangar installed, so we’ve put together a simple kit to help you ask for your own.

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This Dropbox folder contains:

  • A set of instructions on what to do, and what to expect. (MS Word – link)
  • A simple petition form (MS Word format – link) which you can add your road name to
  • An A5 leaflet (MS Word – link) which you can edit with your road details, for giving to interested neighbours

If you want to  get started, have a look at the instructions (link) and drop us an email – info@richmondlcc.co.uk) if you have any questions, or would like some help. .

Better cycling is a public health issue

We’ve written to the Directors of Public Health in Richmond. We think – and Public Health England agrees – that providing for cycling in our borough is a very important service that we expect our local Public Health representatives to support.

To the Director of Public Health, Richmond upon Thames

Dear Ms Bryden and Ms Raleigh,

It will not have escaped your notice that Public Health England have published a paper  “working together to promote active travel”.

As local cycle campaigners we clearly have an interest in the subject and have been frustrated that some councillors do not seem to be aware of the health implications of failing to prioritise walking and cycling. When we pointed out, for example, that even the Department of Transport advises that 20mph limits make people feel safer when cycling, the response was that they wouldn’t allow transport decisions to be made on health grounds unless their health experts made such a case.

Now Public Heath England has specifically called for Local Authorities to “support 20mph speed limits in residential areas” (p22), we hope that you will make it clear to councillors that public health considerations make it imperative that the council takes effective action, if only because “Evidence suggests that switching active travel for short motor vehicle trips could save £17bn in NHS costs over a 20-year period, with benefits being accrued within 2 years for some conditions.” (p11).

Some of the recommendations on p 22, e.g. the idea of a movement hierarchy,  may be uncomfortable to some Richmond councillors and would be dismissed when coming from an interest group.  We hope that you can make it clear that they represent informed scientific judgement.

As local cycling campaigners we have been trying to promote active travel in Richmond and we would be very happy to cooperate with you to achieve the Public Health England objectives.

Regards

Paul Luton

Cycling UK http://www.cyclinguk.org/

Richmond Cycling Campaign. http://www.richmondlcc.co.uk/

 

What the paper says …

Key tasks – policies:

  • active travel should be enshrined in transport policies
  • ensure that safe, convenient, inclusive access for pedestrians, cyclists, and public transport users is maximised and is prioritised over private car use in the movement hierarchy
  • focus on converting short car trips to active travel and public transport
  • ensure that policies and budgets demonstrate how maximising active travel can benefit health, the economy and the environment
  • encourage new developments (and retrofits) to maximise opportunities for active travel with appropriate infrastructure (eg cycle lanes, cycle parking)
  • ensure that travel plans for new developments (including schools) prioritise and support active travel over car transport as part of designing safe and attractive neighbourhoods

Key tasks – implementation:

  • consider how to minimise car parking as a way both to support local economies (eg local high streets) and to promote sustainable modes of transport
  • ensure that new developments don’t adversely affect capacity and safety of surrounding cycling networks
  • support 20mph speed limits in residential areas, and promote road safety in urban and rural settlements to complement school policies on safe and active travel
  • promote local ‘street play’ initiatives
  • ensure monitoring and evaluating the use of travel plans

 

Hampton Court Palace would prefer you to drive, rather than cycle.

While the rest of London is making real efforts to be nicer for cycling, Hampton Court Palace seems to think that cycling is more of a danger to its visitors than driving.

One of our members has asked why it is possible to drive into the palace (to access the car park), and yet if you arrive by bicycle, you’re forced to dismount at the gates. We were very surprised to learn that:

As cars can be heard they are considered less of a risk to the general public than cyclists.

You might be asking ‘It’s not a hardship to push your bike, is it?” and for many people, it’s fine. But if you’re a small child, or if you have any sort of mobility impairment, or if your bike is heavy or unwieldy, then you definitely don’t want to be pushing that bike.

So we also asked why cycling might not be permitted on the paved areas where driving is allowed, they responded:

[that cyclists] could potentially damage the grass and garden areas.

If this were a completely pedestrianised area, with no motor traffic, then we might have some sympathy for the view of Historic Royal Palaces on this one, but they’ve not even put cycle racks anywhere near the entrance, nor made any other particular concessions to encourage people to cycle instead of drive, so we’re asking them to fix this bizarre policy pronouncement.

You can drive a ton of motor car in, but please don't endanger us with your bicycle.

You can drive a ton of motor car in, but please don’t endanger us with your bicycle.

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A big car park … no cycling. Can you see any irony here?

Rides for Everybody – 21st May – Palaces of West London

Meet Richmond Little Green by theatre at 10.00am.

We Cross the Thames and pass through the grounds of Sion House before heading up the Grand Union Canal to Norwood Green. A country lane takes us into the wide spaces of Osterley Park where we enjoy coffee in the stables before passing the mansion on the way home. About 10 miles, quiet with some slopes. Should be back around 12 ish.

Route

osterley 002Six signed up but only two of us met up at Richmond on a cloudy morning. We managed the change of path at Ranelagh Drive and the ride up the canal was pleasant as always – we even got a glimpse of the sun.

Rides for Everyone – Coffee at the Palace – Saturday 16th April

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Meet Mortlake Green by the Station 10.15

We cycle by the Thames all the way down to Putney Bridge which we cross to Bishop’s Park and a break at the cafe in Fulham Palace. Return via the Wetland Centre and a glimpse at the “Arab tent” tomb of the explorer Richard Burton. 8 miles and flat so definitely a ride for everyone. – back about 12.

No takers – maybe just as well as the towpath would have been muddy after the previous day’s rain. There does seem to be a pattern that easy rides are not attractive ?

 

Route

Please let me know if you are thinking of coming – all welcome. Paul – rides@richmondlcc.co.uk

Ride for Explorers – Olympic Park via the new CSHs. Sunday 8th May

Meet Barnes Green by the pond 10.30.

We head over Hammersmith Bridge and make our way to Hyde Park the Mall and probably the Strand to join the updated Cycle Superhighway 2 towards Bow before diverting through Victoria Park to to Olympic Park for lunch – probably in the velodrome.

On the way home we cut across to the improved CSH 3 to Tower Gateway where we get onto the East-West superhighway to Westminster and so back to Barnes.

Just 2 of us met up at Barnes. The Superhigways are now open and reasonably well used on a Sunday – lots of “Boris Bikes”.  Pity we don’t get to see one in Richmond. The velodrome cafe does provide sandwiches.

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Rides for Explorers – Off Road in Surrey to Norbury Park – 3rd July

NorburyMeet Twickenham riverside 10.15

We head South via Kingston and Tolworth before heading away from the traffic along the Hogsmill and then through Horton Country Park and Ashstead Common. Emerging in Leatherhead we pass through the Mole gap before climbing to Norbury Park – Southern England’s best approximation to an alpine meadow. A Track takes us to Brockets Farm for lunch and our return journey features a foot/cycle bridge across the Mole , Oxstead Common and Claygate woods. 37 miles with a serious hill. This has been done on a fixer but not-over-narrow tyres would be comfortable.

Route

Six of us met up on a sunny morning.  We tried a slightly different route along the Hogsmill (shorter but busier main road section ) and the path into Horton Park was very muddy. The surface improved and the all-weather path across Ashstead Common lived up to its name ( some engineers know what they are about). By public request we stopped for coffee in Leatherhead High Street (pity about the litter of parked cars) which fortified us for the climb to Norbury Park. An efficient lunch service at Brockets farm saw us moving to a table with umbrella to keep off the sun  .

After lunch back to mud for a cut-across and then to a delightful footbridge across the Mole , a muddy track into Claygate and a luxury cycle track on the Portsmouth Rd into Kingston. Back in Twickenham at 16.05 after an enjoyable and scenic day mostly well away from traffic.