Thursday, 13 September 2012

Around the Royal Parks on a Boris bike - part 3

Endangered species - docks at London Zoo
We've only waited a year since part 2, but off we cycle to the Regent's Park for our final instalment. And we're in for a disappointment.

I started my trip around the park by entering through Hanover Gate and turning left onto Outer Circle. This large road runs right round the park. It is wide and doesn't carry too much traffic. However, the cars on it are quite fast-moving, and there is no continuous cycle lane. You'd think, being the main route round the park, there would be many docking stations. In fact the only one is in the carpark of London Zoo, with another a little off the Circle in Gloucester Slips carpark.
The Broad Walk

Regent's Park contains one cycle route. Yes, just one. It's a shared pedestrian/cycle route running north-south, the Broad Walk. So I took it, and a few minutes later you're done. What should I do now, go back again? To give it a bit of credit, Broad Walk is very pleasant, but it hardly represents a network of cycle routes through the park. I turn right onto Chester Road then left onto Inner Circle, which is like Outer Circle, only smaller. There are no docking stations on Inner Circle.

To avoid circling endlessly, I turned south towards the only docking station which is actually fairly centrally located, in the carpark of the Tennis Centre. The entrance to this carpark is quite hidden, so many a Boris biker I'm sure has sailed past the dock. Continuing past the tennis courts and over York Bridge, we're back onto Outer Circle. I turned left and exited the park.

The cycling infrastructure for Boris bikers in the Regent's Park is dreadful. The Royal Parks website tells you that 4.5 miles of park roads are available for cycling. Yes indeed, but these aren't really in the park, they are roads bordered by hedges, and are mainly two large circles.

I would like to see at least one more cycle route through the park, probably across the large open green area of sports pitches to the north of the boating lake. Outer Circle deserves at least two large docking stations, and one on Inner Circle, probably close to the Broad Walk cycling route, would be useful.

Since I wrote about the other parks back in 2011 the Royal Parks have done almost nothing to improve conditions for cyclists. No new docks, no new routes. The crossing from Wellington Arch into Hyde Park has been remodelled so that the conflict between cyclists and pedestrians is possibly worse than before. Triangle carpark dock in Hyde Park has been removed for the Olympics for most of the year, I believe it will be back by next month. There is a new docking station at Green Park station, but you cannot access the park itself from here because there is no cycle route in.

Political will is needed to make the Royal Parks better for cycling. If you're bringing your family or friends to London to cycle, take them to Hyde Park, the other parks have a long way to go before they're fit for cycling.

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