Dear Ms Buck
Thank you for your email about cyclists in Kensington Gardens. I have spoken to colleagues across the organisation, and hope this email addresses your points.
I am sorry to hear of the concerns raised by your constituents about the behaviour of some cyclists in the park. Although most cyclists are law abiding and respectful of other park users, a selfish minority are not and act in an irresponsible and sometimes dangerous manner.
Thank you for enclosing suggestions for possible ways to make improvements. Although, as you rightly note, there are capacity challenges in terms of police resource, officers do run targeted initiatives focussing on a range of Park Regulations offences including illegal cycling. In tandem The Royal Parks (TRP) has organised its open safe cycling open days in Kensington Gardens and we hope to do more of these in future.
It was TRP that asked for the removal of two Santander stations in Hyde Park following reports that they were associated with crime. This measure has had a positive impact. We have no plans to remove other bike hire stations as there is no current evidence of the same link to crime and they offer a valuable service to visitors and encourage more people to visit parks in a sustainable way. That is not to say there are not challenges especially from overseas visitors who are not necessarily familiar with Park Regulations and sometimes cycle off permitted routes.
We agree that there is a case for improved messaging at the hire stations and we will be taking this up with TfL. More generally we have reviewed and enhanced our cycle signage. The challenge, however, is installing signage that is appropriate for a Grade 1 listed landscape and does not result in visual littering of messages. We have recently undertaken works to re-draw the white writing on the ground around Hyde Park and Kensington Gardens, and to install new strike-through no-cycling paragon slabs at every entrance into the parks. These make very clear on which routes cycling is and is not permitted. In addition, the park teams regularly put up temporary A-Board signage at problem areas at the request of the Metropolitan Police Service (MPS), further helping to support enforcement. The MPS is comfortable with The Royal Parks’ approach.
Dockless bikes are beginning to have having an impact in London. A small number of boroughs have welcomed them but most have yet to decide their approach. TRP has not licensed any dockless bike companies to operate in the park and is looking at measures to effectively manage these new companies in future. We aim to take an enlightened approach to supporting sustainable transport but in a way that does not interfere with the safety and comfort of other visitors. GPS may be part of the solution but these are complex issues.
In terms of cycle couriers, they are not permitted in the Royal Parks without permission. The police do stop them and other commercial motor vehicles but some do still take the risk and knowingly come through. If they do this, they could be subject to a fine.
We have spoken to the Dedicated Police Officer (DPO) for Hyde Park, PC Steve Barnes, and he would be happy to take you through the police taskings for dealing with cycling in Kensington Gardens, perhaps at an on-site visit. Do let me know if you would like to do this.
It is very important that we hear the views of park users and we are grateful to both you and your constituents for taking the time and trouble to write.
Georgina Dixon | Communications Officer - Stakeholder Lead