Why don't we use parks

I cycle from Highgate to Victoria on a daily basis and can, when I wish to, to take a scenice route through Hampstead Heath, Primrose Hll, Regents Park and Hyde Park. Throughout these routes ony Hyde Park really welcomes cyclists, with specific cycle lanes throughout the park. 

I have been stopped by POLICE in Hampstead Heath and Primrose Hill and warned for cycling in the wrong place (they didn't warn as many people whilst the London Riots were taking place as they have me for riding a bike) and shouted at by people in Regents Park.

Surely, it makes all sorts of sense to widen the paths in ALL london parks by a few metres either side making cycle routes throughout. Encourage people to take a little diversion to use this facility and you would get a lot more people cycling safely.

It would be 

cheaper than shutting down roads to build cycle lanes

safer than having to compete with the no 43 bus or an ignorant black cab driver

healthier for the people that then have more confidence to cycle in London (less unfit people = cash saved in the NHS)

My list could go on and I'm sure you can also think about the many benefits surrounding this startegy.

Why has nobody done this????


  • By jmor2903 at 10:34am 12 November 2011

scenic, not scenice

  • By darditti at 1:15am 13 November 2011

I recently spoke to a my council's (Brent's) consultative forum on this, saying more cycling should be allowed in parks, and I got attacked and basically shouted down by a chorus of elderly folk who were all convinced that cyclists are a dangerous menace who should be totally banned from parks.

So I'm afraid the answer to your question is that there is a strange and irrational fear of cyclists in powerful parts of our community which prevents the common-sense course of action you suggest.

Having said that, LCC campaigns have made progress in places in getting some allowed routes in some parks, e.g. Kensington Gardens and Regents Park recently. So I suggest you get involved with this work. The LCC has a parks and canals working group.


Where are children expected to learn to ride a bike if not in the park?

  • By Austen at 8:36pm 13 November 2011

In Croydon we have had, for many years now, an unofficial Council policy of turning a blind eye to no cycling by-laws in local parks, with the exception of three - one comprising largely ornamental gardens, another mainly occupied by wildfowl and the last a Site of Special Scientific Interest.

I believe that this situation is now being changed to one of formal legalisation.

I can understand concerns about cyclists using parks as main thoroughfares, but think it really does depend on the extent of cycling and the size of the park.  For example, the shared-use paths in Hyde Park don't seem problematic to me - but would be wholly inappropriate in a much smaller setting, e.g. Soho Square.

Regarding anoopshah's point, I can remember my nephew learning to cycle in a park in Turin which had a specially designed layout to enable kids to have fun and gain a bit of road sense at the same time.  

I wonder if the police in Hampstead Heath have enough to do.  I doubt they bother checking that every dog owner picks up after their pooch craps on the grass, spreading Toxocara Canis - commonly known as roundworm - which has been linked to blindness, epilepsy and asthma.


In learning my way about town, I use the parks and various landmarks to help me position myself and navigate around. The parks which stand out as most useful (for me) are Hyde, Green, Regents, and Battersea Park.


Hyde Park is remarkably useful with its generous routes for cyclists which make travelling east and west a doddle, unfortunately there is little provided in the way of North and South. Nonetheless, one can get to South Kensington, Paddington, Nottinghill, or Marble Arch quite effortlessly come day or night.

Regents park has a nice circular route, and the sports cyclists often keep out of ones way.

Green Park, is not particularly useful unless the Mall and/or Piccadilly are clogged up (which is often the case), furthermore one doesn't feel particularly safe at night there.

Battersea park is fantastic during the day time, it is very peaceful and tranquil, but yet again, not one for night time pootling.

I have also cycled through Clapham Common at night once, it seemed Ok, but perhaps not the best place to have a puncture though.

As a walking older cyclist I am confronted by rational fears when a child approaches me on the pavement, suddenly and silently. (Worse still, a mobility cart at terminal velocity!)

They and I  are usually slow and thus can't change direction quckly, especially on a sharp blind bend, on a narrow stretch.

Older people are petrified; they can't see and hear as clearly as once they did, often live alone; there is real fear that the least sprain or bruise will dramatically change how they live their lives. Washing, cooking, eating, bathroom, already major strategic issues, become life threatening if an older person can't manage them. Lifes bumps and bounces have great consequences.

So that is why we must make our roads safer. For all.

Bet TfL have given no thought to the impact of silent greenwashed cars on hard-of-hearing pedestrians and cyclists.

This content was deleted by snowballguru at 11:47pm 14 November 2011.

Why oh why, you might well ask that of all good ideas - it's politics dear!

Britain is so bound up in cyclist-hatred and wrong-headed about the benefits to all if cycling is increased. What we need is a campaign targetted at that, here are some ideas:

- Take cyclists off the road (and give them their own bit) and hey, more space for drivers, just like the old days - ahh!

- 10 more people riding bikes means 10 more seats/sweaty space on the bus/tube or more spaces for cars

- Fitter people cycling means fewer people to treat for heart disease/obesity - saving money on the NHS

- More people riding bikes means more people arriving at work on time - better for business

- you can go on...


Snowballguru, I don't think it is all that bad :)

Yes TfL have been far from enlightened with regards to safe and effective travel for all; and despite some inittial promise and achievements, 'our mayor' Boris Johnston is failing in his oft-promoted stance as a consciencious, progressive leader, and avid cyclist; prefering instead to indulge in egotism, claim credit for others ideas, and bodge the implementation of them. Which has resulted in / left us with:

  • Lethal cycle 'superhighways'
  • Dangerous cyclepaths
  • HGV speedways
  • Poor air quality
  • Lack of cycle facilities
  • Unreliable cycle hire
  • Reduced congestion charge
  • Reduced prices for congestion charge

We are still an aggressively car-dominated city with serious pollution issues (convieniently ignored). Marry that with the increasing costs of public transport (and the lack of security on them) and it is no wonder why many Londoners insist upon their cars as a right, in a similar manner to those Americans who claim their right to firearms, despite living in the largest and most densly populated city in the nation.

However, in spite of the mess, there is a marked change in the cities conscious, many people who would never have considered placing less than 4 wheels on Londons turf now cycle to and from work, the pub, and the shops on the cycle hire bikes - when they can get them. Many more people are buying their own bikes, and cycling is slowly entering into the mainstream as an option not just for frustrated Lance Armstrong wannabes, relegated to the 9 - 5.

Even our very own LCC has began to change, after finally deciding to stop catering to the latter and instead adopting an approach suited to real cyclists, serious cyclists: those that use their bicycle to get them from A to B, not to compensate for failings in life.

And therefore, I am optimistic about the direction that we are moving in, as poorly implemented as it has been our cycle hire scheme (or at least the idea of it) is an inspiration to many other cities, and with the inevitable rise in the cost of petrol, people may finally look towards more sustainable modes of transport and insist on getting value for money from our exhorbitantly priced (and often poor-quality) trains and other forms of public transport. This can only be a good thing for us cyclists.

This post was edited by ManAboutTown at 10:20pm 17 November 2011.

  • By Stily1 at 10:11am 26 November 2011

From a North American perspective, some observations.

Here you are more than a little mired down by your history. By law here a bicycle *is* a "carriage" just like a car, bus and HGV, so by law, of course you shouldn't be taking your carriage onto the footpath, park or otherwise. (Although, come to think of it, the fact that bicycles are not licensed contradicts this more than a little).

The point made about the potentially very negative impact on park users (particularly the fragile elderly and children) of "frantic" speeding cyclists, is entirely valid. If cyclists maintained a moderate speed, there probably wouldn't be a problem. Once again, it's the extremists who ruin things for the rest of us. In the motorcycling community the saying would be "take it to the track" in an effort to keep wannabe racers off the streets. In this case it would be "take it to the street" to keep selfish and irresponsible cyclists away from other sensitive receptors (in the parks). 

When I first moved to Edinburgh and started cycle-commuting there, on a lovely mixed-use path along the Water Leith, I was very pleasantly surprised that, for the most part, people do share and get along (yes, really). Cyclists, runners, walkers, prammists, dog crappers, all using the same, narrow path, mostly without trouble. In western North America cycles would probably be flat out forbidden, and dogs would have to be on leash, etc. etc. 

Enjoy the relative flexibility you enjoy! Whether you're aware of it or not!

This is a place where you're expected to watch where you step. How novel! Every day I step over many situations that would get somebody sued in a minute in America. 

What was my point? Oh well.

Oh, and one more random observation. Generally speaking pet dogs here are much better civilized than in America. American dogs are neurotic assholes by comparison to the dogs out for a walk here, that generally speaking, behave as if they have a job to do. The same cannot be said for the teenagers, however! Scottish teenagers are......neurotic assholes, on average.


The Park authorties seen to think as little of cyclists as every one else!

Again the cycle lanes of the North carriage way in Hyde park are closed, and turned into a staff car park/lorry park for the fair.

If there is one place in central London that any staff do NOT need to use their cars its in Hyde Park

Any other event in the Park,... close the North Carriage way and other cycle lanes.

I can't wait to see whhat is closed for the olympics.

Just to let people know that I just received a £60 fine for cycling through Primrose hill on a wet windswept wednesday with only one pedestrian using the path.

A police car followed me up the path and sounded his siren to alert me to his presence! The place was truely deserted apart from the one walker I mentioned.

I apologised to the officer but he was having none of it. I think perhaps he was responding to a brief to clamp down on cyclists, or else he was under his ticket quota for the month! Either way £60 seems a ridiculous fine for a cyclist and is usually the sort of fine handed out to motorists for speeding offences.

Rather than being fined for cycling through parks we should be encouraged with proper cycle lanes being provided. London has many fabulous parks and with a little planning you can navigate your way across the capital reducing the risk of injury on busy roads. 

So be warned anyone using Primrose Hill park as a cut through. It seems our local police have nothing better to do than spend time handing out ridiculous fines to cyclists.


  • By paul at 5:36pm 12 February 2014

An important point is that when cycling was legalised in Kensington Gardens ; cycling increased markedly but complaints about cycling decreased even more. Work out the sensible paths, mark them clearly and make them wide enough then fine anyone cycling irresponsibly.

michael - you should contest your fine if it's for 'pavement cycling' 


  • By phufbl at 1:37pm 13 February 2014

If it is unsafe to cycle on that path then how is it safe for the police to drive a car along it?

The Police car was on the pavement as (obeying his mission statement of 'Protect & Serve') he was in active pursuit as a dangerous criminal who clearly represented an unacceptable risk to life and limb. The only thing the officer did wrong was that he did not call up an armed responce unit to take out the cyclist.

A £60 fine is ridiculously lenient and I shall be writting to my MP and the Daily Mail forthwith.

All joking aside. Appeal, you have nothing to lose. The officer has clearly not used his judgement correctly. I could understand it if you were trying to bust a strava segment on a crowded footpath but not if you were riding considerately on a near empty path.

Best of luck.

You ask a very important question....and one i have often pondered myself.It seems that this common sense suggestion falls on deaf ears in this country where the thought process is that only those brave and fit enough to cycle should use the dangerous and intimidating road network which has barely little allocation to cyclists.

I would also point out that we have a superb canal network in London (Regents Canal) which also could be improved and used to a better level for cyclists.....instead this is completely overlooked by TFL and left in the hands of British Waterways who claim they have no money to invest in it.

I despair at the lack of insight our town planners have ! 

  • By lmjhoney at 1:57pm 28 February 2014

Better by far to make access only (for cars) routes rightt hrough London aspecially for cyclists.

Not doing so shows the governments lack of commitment to Cyclists, Climate Change, Pollution, Health and Safter and and and and and and and.

It seems that car manufactures and pollutors and far more important than cyclists or for that matter, the planet or the life it supports. It cant possibly be because there has been some large brown envelopes stuffed with used notes being placed into politicains sweaty palms, could it???

  • By iw84 at 7:52pm 9 March 2014

Parks are a great resource but cycling is often an afterthought which is where the issues arise. Dividing a 2m wide footpath into 1m for cyclists and 1m for pedestrians is a fudge. Small children and animals will wander wherever they want regardless of a white line and why shouldn't they? Parks are for recreation. I wouldn't want to get in their way.

I was walking through Hyde Park today and it was very busy; by and large the mix worked well. There were too many people to fit in the pedestrian side of the path so naturally people strayed. There were a minority of cyclists who took the cab driver approach to this situation but most were well mannered and patiently made their way through the crowds or used the grass.

It should be noted that next to the 2m wide path split equally between pedestrians and cyclists is a 10m wide horse track which no-one was using...

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