Monday, September 20, 2010

Richmond Park - Open Day

I decided to visit the Richmond Park Open Day on the 19th Sept. I elected to eschew the offer of car parking on the field adjacent to Holly Lodge, and cycle. An unconventional choice, I know, but Richmond Park had laid on secure cycle parking:

Unfortunately, this got rather full so some cyclists had to use the overspill parking:

Oh well. At least we didn't have to pay £5 a pop like the car drivers.

It's a measure of how car-centric the UK has become, that Richmond Park, which is a Site of Special Scientific Interest and a National Nature Reserve, feel they have to lay on special car parking when they hold an event, but there is little consideration given to the idea that people might cycle. For the people who work here, ecology is their day-job: you would think that sustainable transport would be of some interest to them.
What is also interesting is the amount of cycling that goes on in the park. I don't have any figures at this point, but my guess is there is probably more cycle traffic than motor traffic, thanks to the pleasant cycle paths. Well, I say 'cycle paths', but they are actually shared paths, so on a busy day, particularly near the car parks and gates, there is a high-density mix of adult cyclists, child cyclists, runners and walkers, all moving at different speeds, and many in their own little world unaware of other path users. You can cycle on the road, if you want to cycle faster, but the roads are never closed to motor traffic during daylight hours, except for the once-yearly London Duathlon. The constant presence of motor traffic, much of which is through-traffic, not only damages the ecology of the Park and the tranquility of it, it also presents a danger to people who want to use the Park for its intended purpose - leisure.
You could understand the Royal Parks Agency being leery of closing the Park to through motor traffic if there were no demand from cyclists, but it's clear that cyclists do want to use the Park. Would it hurt to stop through traffic at off-peak times, when drivers can find other routes? Maybe once a week, on Sunday morning?

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