Royal Parks says no to through motor traffic

The Royal Parks, custodians of eight of London’s most iconic green spaces has launched a public engagement exercise into its future long-term strategy on movement and transport. And the strategy contains several very exciting principles at present.

The Royal Parks manages Hyde Park, Kensington Gardens, St James’s Park, Green Park, Regent’s Park, Greenwich Park, Richmond Park and Bushy Park. It acts independently to the boroughs the parks are in, but as the strategy discussion paper launched today points out: “parliamentary approval is required to implement changes to speed restrictions and car parking charges within our parks”.

You can comment on the draft strategy here. Its main aim, according to the discussion paper is to “protect the park environments and enhance the park visitor experience”. To do that, the strategy proposes seven “movement principles”, as below.

The most interesting one on initial read is 4 – The Royal Parks wants to discourage through motor traffic from using park roads. This could have a massive impact on the parks, and on cycling and walking in and through them. Presently, there are clear and massive through motor vehicle routes (or “ratruns”) through Regent’s Park (with the Crown Estates Paving Commission continuing to reject closing its gates around the Outer Circle as was proposed, and supported by them, during the Cycle Superhighway CS11 consultation) most obviously, but also Richmond Park and others.

Removing through motor traffic from these parks would not only make them far far better for people walking, cycling, playing, lounging in them, but also vastly improve the parks as places to cycle in, to and through potentially. Roads inside parks simply shoudn't be alternatives to main roads for thousands of drivers heading for central London daily - if the only motor traffic in these parks were visitors, the roads would be far nicer places to cycle and walk along.

So far, these are just principles in a strategy - it remains to be seen how exactly proposals would evolve. But the potential to improve these iconic parks is huge.

LCC will be formulating a response and letting people know about it asap. You can feed into our thinking at our Cyclescape thread. But most importantly, if you want to feed in to the consultation before we’ve worked up a more full response, get online and support the principles here.

The Royal Parks’ draft movement principles:

  1. We will protect and conserve our parks’ special qualities: “Any changes or developments that affect the way visitors move within our parks should be sensitive to the heritage, character, biodiversity, wildlife and listed landscapes of the parks and must result in no net loss of trees or green space.”
  2. Our parks are for people: “Our parks are places that people visit for relaxation and recreation, and to escape the busy city. To make that possible, we will prioritise walking within our parks.”
  3. We will encourage the use of more sustainable ways to access our parks: “How visitors arrive at our parks plays a significant role in how they use and experience them. We will promote and encourage visitors to use active and sustainable modes of transport for park visits whenever they can.”
  4. Our park roads are not intended to be commuter through-routes for motor vehicles: “Park roads are primarily for the use of park visitors coming to the parks, not for commuters travelling through the parks. Over time, we will discourage the through-movement of motor vehicles within our parks.”
  5. We will achieve more by delivering key projects through partnership and collaboration: “The transport and movement decisions of our visitors do not begin and end at our park boundaries. To deliver positive change we will collaborate with key partners on projects, both within and outside of the parks, to achieve the best possible outcomes for the benefit of our visitors.”
  6. We will make evidence-based decisions: “To make appropriate decisions concerning movement, we will use all available and relevant evidence and data. We will monitor and report outcomes against objectives and embed continuous improvement into our approach.”
  7. We will be proactive in our approach to future transport challenges and opportunities: “The future of transport is quickly changing, and user-expectations play an ever-increasing role in influencing decisions and solutions. We will ensure that we are prepared for these changes and opportunities, so that we can anticipate and respond to change in an informed, considered and prompt way that aligns with our charitable objectives.