The Royal Parks has released the results of its initial engagement survey on the principles of its draft Movement Strategy, and Londoners have overwhelmingly supported these and the Parks’ intention to begin to reclaim parks from cars, for people, walking and cycling.
The Royal Parks are eight iconic and large green spaces scattered across London, including Regent’s Park, Hyde Park and Richmond Park. Nearly all of them feature large roads through them that mean the parks are widely used as cut-throughs for motor traffic. And while many of the parks have gates that are shut at night, or restrictions on commercial traffic, the traffic in the parks is resulting in high levels of road danger to both those walking and cycling, and high levels of pollution.
Schemes in the past to reduce the through traffic, such as Cycle Superhighway CS11 have been stymied. And even enforcement of existing commercial vehicle bans and against clear road dangers have been routinely opposed. And indeed, until recently, The Royal Parks has been fairly resistant itself to enabling cycling in and through its parks, and in reducing motor traffic. But that now seems set to change, for the better.
The survey was filled out by nearly 7,000 respondents. Overall: 85% agreed “changes or developments within… parks should seek to protect, conserve and enhance” the parks; 73% agreed that the Parks should “prioritise walking” over other modes; 79% agreed walking, cycling and using public transport to reach the parks should be prioritised over other modes; and the biggie: 78% agreed park roads should “not be used as commuter routes for motor vehicles”.
Broken down by the modes of those answering, there was far lower support for promoting reaching the park by sustainable modes, and for removing motor traffic through routes among those who said they were drivers: 41 and 44% respectively.
The Royal Parks officer in charge of the strategy, Mat Bonomi, subsequently confirmed on twitter that results were also “broadly the same across all the parks.” And that next The Royal Parks will “develop a whole of estate strategy and then step that down to the individual park level”. The overall strategy is due to be made public, consulted on and signed off by The Royal Parks in the new year. We should then expect to start to see schemes coming forward on a park by park basis to start to enact the finished strategy.
With such large and iconic spaces, we can’t wait to see The Royal Parks begin to tackle the through motor traffic and returning parks to the people for walking, cycling, strolling, breathing, pootling and enjoying, for sport, leisure and indeed to commute through in safety – that’s why LCC is part of the Parks for People coalition alongside organisations including London Living Streets, CPRE London and Regent’s Park Cyclists, and has been campaigning around this issue for some time.
As and when the Parks do start removing the cut-through motor traffic, it will be vital that the boroughs around the parks work to ensure displaced traffic doesn’t worsen residents’ lives and air quality on roads outside the parks. Councils should be deploying both “low traffic neighbourhoods” to stop nearby residential roads turning into nightmare ratruns, and main road solutions such as cycle tracks, pavement widening and/or bus lanes to ensure they also don’t get far worse. This may involve some short-term disruption, but it’s a vital and massive opportunity in London to systemically cut out a lot of unnecessary car journeys and switch them to more sustainable modes – cutting air pollution, carbon emission and congestion. After all, if the roads are a lot quieter and calmer, many more people will choose to cycle.
Londoners support making Royal Parks for people, not cars – LCC
The Royal Parks has released the results of its initial engagement survey on the principles of its draft Movement Strategy, and Londoners have overwhelmingly supported these and the Parks’ intention to begin to reclaim parks from cars, for people, walking and cycling. The Royal Parks are eight iconic and large green spaces scattered across London,… [Read More]