Trial ban on vehicles driving through six Royal Parks to begin this week

A trial ban on vehicles driving through a number of Royal parks will begin on Saturday, it was confirmed today.

The changes will affect six parks, including Hyde Park, Richmond Park and Greenwich Park, and will last for six months in the first instance.

They will result in Constitution Hill and The Mall being closed throughout the weekend, rather than just on Sundays, creating a traffic-free zone around The Green Park and St James’ Park.

Today’s announcement of the start date includes the first details of the new restrictions in Richmond Park, where there are high levels of through-traffic.

As revealed in the Standard last month, car parks will remain open but the restrictions in Richmond Park will prevent motorists from using some roads as a “rat-run”.

The restrictions will be eased during the week but applied in greater force at weekends.

Many of the restrictions have already been in place temporarily since the start of lockdown in March in an attempt to limit the spread of coronavirus.

In Hyde Park, North Carriage Drive will be closed full-time while South Carriage Drive will be closed on Saturdays, in addition to its existing Sunday closure.

In Greenwich Park, the Avenue will be closed full-time.

In Bushy Park, Chestnut Avenue between Teddington and Hampton Court Gates will be closed full-time.

In Richmond Park, access from Sheen Gate and from Robin Hood Gate to Broomfield Hill car park will be closed.

In addition, the road between Roehampton and Richmond gates will be closed at the weekend to create a “quiet zone” on the north side of the park.

But the decision to reopen the route between Richmond and Kingston gates in Richmond Park sparked a massive backlash from cyclists.

They said this was the busiest commuter “rat run” prior to the park being closed to vehicles at the start of lockdown, and said the Royal Parks had blundered in deciding to reopen the route.

Simon Munk, infrastructure campaigner at London Cycling Campaign, said it was a “hugely disappointing retrogressive step”.

He tweeted: This takes a currently amazing car free Richmond Park and reintroduces a huge ratrun through it. Small steps forward but one huge step backwards.”

Other cyclists described the move as a “pathetic cop-out” and “road openings not road [closures]”. Nick Price-Thompson tweeted: “Can’t believe Richmond Park isn’t staying cycles and pedestrians only. Bonkers.”

Richmond Cyclists said the move was “designed to placate local councils and take car pressure off Petersham Road”.

It said previous Royal Parks research had found that only 12 per cent of motorists entering the park during weekday mornings had done so to visit the park.

But the decision to reopen the route between Richmond and Kingston gates in Richmond Park sparked a massive backlash from cyclists.

They said this was the busiest commuter “rat run” prior to the park being closed to vehicles at the start of lockdown, and said the Royal Parks had blundered in deciding to reopen the route.

Simon Munk, infrastructure campaigner at London Cycling Campaign, said it was a “hugely disappointing retrogressive step”.

He tweeted: “This takes a currently amazing car free Richmond Park and reintroduces a huge ratrun through it. Small steps forward but one huge step backwards.”

Other cyclists described the move as a “pathetic cop-out” and “road openings not road [closures]”. Nick Price-Thompson tweeted: “Can’t believe Richmond Park isn’t staying cycles and pedestrians only. Bonkers.”

Richmond Cyclists said the move was “designed to placate local councils and take car pressure off Petersham Road”. It said previous Royal Parks research had found that only 12 per cent of motorists entering the park during weekday mornings had done so to visit the park.

A Royal Parks spokeswoman said in response to the complaints about Richmond Park: “We haven’t re-opened any roads to traffic that didn’t previous exist so we have not created any new vehicle routes.”

Mat Bonomi, head of transport for The Royal Parks, said: “Our visitors come to our parks to escape the busy city. These trials will help us create new, car-free spaces for Londoners to soak up the natural environment on their doorstep.

“The health and happiness of Londoners has never been more important. We hope that these important first steps will go a long way to enable increasing numbers of visitors to walk and cycle in the parks safely and peacefully.”

The trials will be monitored through visitor satisfaction surveys and feedback from stakeholders. A formal consultation will be launched in November.

Restrictions on traffic using Regent’s Park are likely to be brought forward at a later date.

Evening Standard – London