Sunday, May 20, 2012

The Mall Closure - Why?

The Mall and Constitution Hill are currently closed to motor vehicle traffic. Something to do with some jubilee or olympics or something.

Unfortunately, despite this being a very wide road by London standards, not content with declaring war on the motorist, they've also banned cycling. Which is a bit of a shame because this forms part of a continuous segregated cycle path that runs from Kensington nearly all the way to Admiralty Arch.

I guess the powers that be must have thought: with all the disruption to motoring and public transport, why should cyclists get off scot free? Let them share the pain. And there were a lot of unhappy cyclists when I visited.

There's no other obvious reason to ban cycling. Below you can see there's not shortage of space, so much of it in fact that there's a VIP lane for privileged cars:

It's not cost either. Lots of money for big signs saying "NO CYCLING ALLOWED" and platoons of officials in orange jackets to enforce it:

It can't be security or safety either. Lots of pedestrians milling around, with bags capable of holding as much ordnance as a cyclist could.

Below you can see the VIP "site access" lane on Constitution Hill. There's clearly plenty of room to move the VIP lane 2 metres to one side to provide a cycle lane.

It's not even as if anything much was going on the two days I visited - certainly not enough to justify excluding cyclists.

Luckily, this won't be lasting long because Boris and TfL has declared war on crap roadworks:

"The standards state that all roadworks sites should:
  • Be tidy and safe for pedestrians, cyclists and other road users
  • Have clear and consistent signage explaining what's happening including any diversions
  • Be worked on or have an explanation as to why not (eg if concrete is drying)
  • Take up as little road/pavement space as possible
In addition, companies should help keep London moving by scheduling work outside peak hours, re-opening the road at peak times and, where possible, working 24-hours-a-day or extended hours.
The Mayor said: 'We are now putting in place better ways to empower Londoners to name and shame those who blight our city with disruptive or badly managed roadworks.
'These reports will be followed-up with swift action by the relevant authority to help unclog roads suffering from unnecessary delays."

You can make a report at this website just in case they don't get the message.


  1. This is sad - I used to be taken to the Mall on Sundays when traffic was closed as it was the best place for children to ride a bike

  2. I encountered it myself and not one, but FOUR orange officials enforcing the no cycling ban two of which were having much fun yelling at us as soon as they saw us approaching from the round about.

  3. I filed a report. As usual a bit laborious but not complicated to do. When you click on Constitution Hill on the map, just ignore the suggested roadworks at Picadilly, 287 metres etc, and go for the "None of the above" radio button at the bottom of the list, and describe the location, eg "Constitution Hill" After that it is quite straightforward.

  4. I made a report. This is the only bicycle friendly route west from central London. It is absurd to close it and send cyclists on a long detour through traffic snarled streets.

  5. May be they're worried that if they continue to allow cycling here when they've banned motor vehicles they'll unwittingly create another 'Sky ride' with people flocking to enjoy fear-free cycling?

    I missed my train as a result of this ban - I'm so used to being able to time my cycle journeys to the nearest minute or two I didn't have enough spare!

  6. Roadworks problem 1469560

    This is an automated email to update you on the current status of the above case:
    Investigation completed
    Thank you for your enquiry. Constitution Hill does not come under the authority of Westminster City Council and is a street owned by The Royal Parks. To discuss this closure, please contact The Royal Parks customer service line on 0300 061 2000.

  7. This annoyed me very much too! Seems crazy to spend so much time, money and effort in preventing bikes passing through, when a little thought would have made it possible without hassle.

    The Royal Parks seem to be a law unto themselves sometimes. On this page:
    we're instructed to email comments to

  8. Apart from a different serial number, I got a verbatim identical response. Perhaps I should write to my MP, Secretary of State for Culture, Media & Sport (at the moment) Jeremy Hunt, as the Jubilee is managed by the DCMS.

  9. The report filed on Westminster's roadworks site eventualy promted this reply from the Royal Parks:

    "Hi Paul,

    Thank you for your e-mail. I am forwarding this on to the appropriate person who will be in touch with you in due course.

    Kind Regards,

    Chloe Whyatt (on behalf of the cycle mailbox)

    It was copied to a chap called Dave Ellis (dellis@etc) who I assume to the person she referred to as the forwardee.

    Not a substantive response, but at least it is on their radar.

  10. Dave Ellis (referred to above) tried to call me at work but unfortunately I didn't get round to calling him back. I received an email from him today.

    Credit where credit is due, he had gone back and looked at the situation and spoken to the jobsworths - sorry, I meant officials - who made this decision, to get their explanation.

    It's not really what I would call an explanation as such, more a fob-off, but the fact that he tried is appreciated.

    My final word on the subject was to raise an eyebrow at the notion that a body promoting cycling would do something so damaging to the interests of thousands of - cyclists!

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