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Britain’s “most expensive street” bans cyclists and pedestrians – after complaints about “dangerous” cyclists causing “near misses” and putting residents and diplomats “at risk”

“This decision has been made to prioritise safety and wellbeing,” the Crown Estate said of the Kensington Palace Gardens closure

Concerns about “speeding” cyclists using an exclusive London street as a cut-through, allegedly leading to several complaints of “near misses” with residents and diplomats, have led to the road being temporarily closed to both people on bikes and pedestrians while a safety review is held.

Kensington Palace Gardens, a half-mile-long tree-lined avenue dubbed Britian’s most expensive street and ‘Billionaires Row’ thanks to its £35 million average house price, connects Notting Hill Gate and Kensington High Street in the west of the capital, and is home to several foreign embassies, such as Russia and Israel, France’s ambassadorial residence, and notable private residents such as former Chelsea FC owner Roman Abramovich and Princess Haya of Jordan.

The street has long been closed to motorists, with pedestrians and cyclists until this week able to enter at any time through gates guarded by sentry boxes at either end of the avenue.

> Kensington Palace Gardens residents objected to Quietway because "the masses" would compromise their security

However, the Evening Standard has reported that people walking or cycling along Kensington Palace Gardens have been temporarily banned, after complaints were raised about cyclists using the street as a cut-through endangering pedestrians.

On Wednesday the Crown Estate, which owns and manages the avenue, closed the road to pedestrians and cyclists “due to safety concerns”, with members of the public now unable to use it until a review is completed.

“We have taken the decision to temporarily close Kensington Palace Gardens to pedestrians and cyclists due to safety concerns,” a Crown Estate spokesperson said this week.

“This decision has been made to prioritise safety and wellbeing, whilst we review a long-term solution.”

Sources have told the Evening Standard that there have been numerous complaints about the behaviour of cyclists on the street, which have allegedly put residents, diplomats, and visitors “at risk” and led to several near misses. The sources say that officials are currently exploring ways to make the road safer.

> Mayor fined €100 for riding on street where cycling is banned by the council, while shooting ‘cycle to work’ video to encourage cycling in Barcelona

The Standard has also reported that the ban on pedestrians as well as cyclists comes after fears were raised that security guards would be forced to deal with “disgruntled” cyclists who would instead wish to walk their bike down the street, or lead to those riding hire bikes to leave them outside the gate on the public path.

When asked why pedestrians were also subject to the temporary closure, the Crown Estate insisted that the road would be closed until the safety review is completed and a final decision is made on public access.

Rather notably, this isn’t the first time that residents of Britain’s most exclusive, well-heeled street have raised objections about cyclists encroaching on their turf.

> Locals block Quietway on exclusive London private road

Back in 2016, plans to make Kensington Palace Gardens one of London’s cycling Quietways – signposted routes on quiet back streets designed to offer a calmer and safer network for people on bikes – were scrapped after residents complained that the use of the road by “the masses” would compromise security and “cede its exclusivity”.

The Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea council and Transport for London (TfL) received 15 responses to the consultation on the proposed Quietway, including “several” respondents who claimed that it would “pose security risks, unspecified”.

One resident told the consultation: “The residents on this private road should not be responsible for the use of the masses. Open use of this private roadway by the masses will cede its exclusivity and surrender its security.”

“Those who already use the cut-through... are oblivious to the dismount notices and feel the right to pedal through, causing pedestrians to move and young mums with buggies to move out of the way,” another added.

“This is annoying to all, residents and visitors alike, we pay for the upkeep of this private road… in our high council tax and expect to keep the standards of privacy this brings us.”

In a premonition of what was to come eight years later, one letter writer argued that cyclists should be prevented from using the road entirely, while another wrote that there were “far too many cyclists on the roadway as it is” while calling for “a blanket ban”.

Ryan joined road.cc in December 2021 and since then has kept the site’s readers and listeners informed and enthralled (well at least occasionally) on news, the live blog, and the road.cc Podcast. After boarding a wrong bus at the world championships and ruining a good pair of jeans at the cyclocross, he now serves as road.cc’s senior news writer. Before his foray into cycling journalism, he wallowed in the equally pitiless world of academia, where he wrote a book about Victorian politics and droned on about cycling and bikes to classes of bored students (while taking every chance he could get to talk about cycling in print or on the radio). He can be found riding his bike very slowly around the narrow, scenic country lanes of Co. Down.

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43 comments

Avatar
Rendel Harris | 4 days ago
4 likes

Unsurprising shittake in the headline from the appalling Evening Standard, which is of course owned by a Russian oligarch who is doubtless chums with many of the billionaires who have their mansions on the street: "Speeding cyclists force closure of ‘Billionaires’ Row’ close to Kensington Palace to public". Note that it is cyclists who have forced the closure, not our fault squire, we'd love to keep our exclusive security-patrolled rich man's playground open to all but the cyclists have forced us to shut you all out.

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velobetty | 4 days ago
3 likes

As others have said if they actually cared about pedestrian safety they'd not also ban pedestrians too. They just don't want proles on their street.

It's time to get these billionaires out of London.

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eburtthebike | 5 days ago
4 likes

".........after complaints were raised about cyclists  plebs using the street as a cut-through endangering pedestrians rich people."

FTFY.

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Marky Legs | 5 days ago
0 likes

Looks like one very exoensive car park which detracts from the area.  Surely, they should also ban parking on the street!!!

 

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mattw | 6 days ago
3 likes

Weird one.

I can't find anything except half a dozen Slight injuries in 25 years.

Someone is a bullshit-artist.

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Rendel Harris replied to mattw | 5 days ago
3 likes

mattw wrote:

Weird one.

I can't find anything except half a dozen Slight injuries in 25 years.

Someone is a bullshit-artist.

The very nature of the road, only 800m long with cobbled sections and gates at both ends with the whole road in full view of armed police both at each end and outside the various embassies, would mean you'd have to be an absolute lemon to try any "dangerous and furious" riding down there, and I've never seen any. For some people the presence of a moving cyclist anywhere within fifty metres appears to go down in their book as a "near miss".

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Rendel Harris | 6 days ago
13 likes

.

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Dhill | 6 days ago
1 like

It's a private road, hard to argue against the request to band people, unless they are in cars and reside on that street.

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Rendel Harris replied to Dhill | 6 days ago
11 likes

Dhill wrote:

It's a private road, hard to argue against the request to band people, unless they are in cars and reside on that street.

It may be a private road but as far as I understand it is a public right of way (if it wasn't I'm sure they would have banned the proles long ago); I'm not sure whether the owner of a private road has a right to ban cycling but I'd think that in banning all members of the public, even pedestrians, from a public right of way Crown Estates are on pretty dubious legal ground. Far from being "hard to argue against the request" I'd say that if this were taken to court Crown Estates would find it hard to justify their actions.

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林伊德 | 6 days ago
12 likes

"the masses"...

They don't even bother to hide their contempt. The enduring human tendency to mistake wealth for worth is just staggering. I'd like to airdrop in a pubfull of Mansfield lads to instantly start screaming, "Are you looking at my pint?" and "D'you think you're better than me?"

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lio | 6 days ago
7 likes

One rule for me and another rule for thee.

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Stephankernow replied to lio | 6 days ago
0 likes
lio wrote:

One rule for me and another rule for thee.

Sadly we have two private roads near us 1 has access and 1 doesn't. They pay for all the road maintenance and if its private thats it im afraid.
Their are gated communities in this country no difference

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Rendel Harris replied to Stephankernow | 6 days ago
12 likes

Stephankernow wrote:

if its private thats it im afraid

Lots of private land, including private roads, has public rights-of-way that can't be removed arbitrarily, owners can't just say "closed, that's it" as they wish.

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Mark Skinner | 6 days ago
7 likes

Whenever there's nearly a crash don't forget to call the nearly police.

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john_smith | 6 days ago
15 likes

Diplomats being renowned for their exemplary motoring behaviour.

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Hirsute | 6 days ago
4 likes

If it's a private road, why would council tax payers be paying anything towards its upkeep ?

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Moist von Lipwig replied to Hirsute | 6 days ago
3 likes

That ^^

If its also an unadopted road there'd be nothing to stop the local authority blocking off the junctions at both ends to motor vehicles within their highway boundary provided they gop through the correct TRO process.   Right of access doesn't mean by motorised vehicle.

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Dz1 replied to Hirsute | 6 days ago
0 likes

If your taxes are going towards its upkeep then you have the right to use it no matter what these elites say and there is nothing they can do about it.

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Rendel Harris replied to Dz1 | 6 days ago
5 likes

Dz1 wrote:

If your taxes are going towards its upkeep then you have the right to use it no matter what these elites say and there is nothing they can do about it.

Not sure about that, my taxes go towards the upkeep of Buckingham Palace but I'm fairly sure if I tried to have a stroll through the state apartments there would be some objection.

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hawkinspeter replied to Rendel Harris | 6 days ago
3 likes

Rendel Harris wrote:

Dz1 wrote:

If your taxes are going towards its upkeep then you have the right to use it no matter what these elites say and there is nothing they can do about it.

Not sure about that, my taxes go towards the upkeep of Buckingham Palace but I'm fairly sure if I tried to have a stroll through the state apartments there would be some objection.

Also, plenty of military sites wouldn't be enthused about the public wandering around to see where their tax money is being spent.

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mattw replied to Dz1 | 6 days ago
2 likes

Dz1 wrote:

If your taxes are going towards its upkeep then you have the right to use it no matter what these elites say and there is nothing they can do about it.

I'm not aware of any legal basis for that.

Can you cite, please?

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Stephankernow replied to Hirsute | 6 days ago
0 likes
Hirsute wrote:

If it's a private road, why would council tax payers be paying anything towards its upkeep ?

Here the 2 private roads pay for their own maintenance, You make a valid points!

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AReadman | 6 days ago
1 like

Reeks of 'scam'.

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Wheelywheelygood | 1 week ago
1 like

If they can safer by closing the street to  bikers why can't we all be safer and close all roads to cyclists especially the  2 separate parents i've seen this week riding down a busy road with small kids sitting on the crossbar , and the very clever man who decided it would be ok to ride down the wrong side of a main road alongside of his child on a small bike . I often wonder is it compulsory when you buy a bike to have all your commonsense removed 

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chrisonabike replied to Wheelywheelygood | 6 days ago
3 likes

Ah, they got that from road.cc! There was a post here complaining about yoof riding carelessly but being invulnerable. Someone responded suggesting they would attach an urchin to their handlebars to protect themselves.

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mark1a replied to Wheelywheelygood | 6 days ago
9 likes

Didn't happen. 

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john_smith replied to Wheelywheelygood | 6 days ago
6 likes

In the Netherlands I once saw three cyclists riding side by side carrying a sofa, which was balanced across their rear luggage racks. It's also not uncommon there for people to carry two or three small children with them on a bike. It's absolutely disgusting. They're savages with no respect for human life. So glad we got our country back.

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perce replied to Wheelywheelygood | 6 days ago
10 likes

I need some help. Do you know which band recorded these songs?

A. Poison Arrow

B. The Look of Love

C. When Smokey Sings

It's on the tip of my tongue - for the life of me I just can't remember.

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polainm replied to Wheelywheelygood | 6 days ago
8 likes

Being the RCC troll, is it a requirement to never check your facts or just make it up as you go along? I'm asking because I saw nearly 1 million drivers last week driving without insurance/VED/MoT and KSI'ing hundreds of people, especially pedestrians while on the pavement. If only we could ban everyone who drives with such disregard for other people using the public highway, it would save many £millions a year. 
 

I haven't bothered to fact check this either. But cyclists....Lycra...tax....helmets...

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wycombewheeler | 1 week ago
5 likes

Looks like a very wide road should be no issue with cyclists using it as a low traffic cut through, I supect the issues are

1) because it is effectively gated some oh so important people don't check properly before exiting their drives.

2) because it is low traffic pedestrians are choosing to wander down the wide road and not use the pavements. They are they shocked when cyclists pass them (which may or may not be dangerous)

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