Support road.cc

Like this site? Help us to make it better.

news

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.

Add new comment

43 comments

Avatar
Disgusted of Tu... | 1 month ago
11 likes

I may be wrong (it happens) and haven't "Googled it" but I was under the impression that a public right of way is just that, as per byways and bridle paths which the public have a right to access unimpeded regardless of land ownership QED - "a public right of way?"

Surely the "near misses" involving vehicles could be due to the careless/reckless motor vehicle driver(s) and they should also be banned during the "review"?

They can still no doubt gain access/egress by helicopter or maybe just put some buses on for them?

Where are the Rambles Association when you need them!

Avatar
Rendel Harris | 1 month ago
9 likes

Ironically enough it's a road I tend to avoid because although it's closed to through traffic it has access for residents and there's a lot of crappy driving from people with diplomatic plates who know they can't get in trouble - and plenty of them have armed protection with them so you don't want to get into an altercation!

Just to be pedantic it's only Kensington Palace Gardens at the top (northern) end, it becomes Palace Green halfway down and that's the part with the Israeli embassy in it, near Kensington High Street.

Avatar
Dhill replied to Rendel Harris | 1 month ago
1 like

So the Israeli embassy and Russian embassy was mentioned. I can see why the residence are concerned. The house prices are likely to fall.

Avatar
mitsky | 1 month ago
21 likes

Imagine if a road (ANY ROAD) was closed simply due to complaints about NEAR MISSES with motorists.

There would be uproar.

And by closing the road to cyclists and pedestrians, have the elites created their own version of an LTN?

I don't know the road/area itself but I'm picturing it being literally just a road with no pavements and each property having it's own gate to a large driveway.
Thus no one walks outside the boundary of the property and the only way in and out of the properties is by motor vehicle.
Almost like some sort of prison...

Avatar
Oldfatgit | 1 month ago
9 likes

If pedestrians are banned, how are people to get to their on-street parked cars?

Avatar
mdavidford replied to Oldfatgit | 1 month ago
23 likes

Oldfatgit wrote:

If pedestrians are banned, how are people to get to their on-street parked cars?

(Obviously the servants don't count as people...)

Avatar
brooksby | 1 month ago
9 likes

And of course it's within the RBKC… (edit: yes, I know it's privately owned - Crown Estate - but still…).

I wonder if this will set a precedent for private roads to all start banning pedestrians and cyclists (who are all crooks, as we know from previous news items)?

Avatar
headingley | 1 month ago
15 likes

It will be interesting to see the outcome of the "safety review" - they will no doubt find no evidence of injuries from collisions between pedestrians and bikes. Residents complain of "high Council Tax" - who are they kidding, they live in one eof the most expensive streets in Europe and pay less than my local authority Council Tax here in Leeds (Band H, the highest, in Leeds is over £4,000 pa, Band H,the highest, in Kensington & Chelsea is little over £3,000 pa !)

Avatar
brooksby replied to headingley | 1 month ago
4 likes

headingley wrote:

It will be interesting to see the outcome of the "safety review" - they will no doubt find no evidence of injuries from collisions between pedestrians and bikes.

But they will make the temporary ban permanent anyway 

Avatar
wycombewheeler replied to headingley | 1 month ago
0 likes

headingley wrote:

It will be interesting to see the outcome of the "safety review" - they will no doubt find no evidence of injuries from collisions between pedestrians and bikes. Residents complain of "high Council Tax" - who are they kidding, they live in one eof the most expensive streets in Europe and pay less than my local authority Council Tax here in Leeds (Band H, the highest, in Leeds is over £4,000 pa, Band H,the highest, in Kensington & Chelsea is little over £3,000 pa !)

I bet you'll find there are far more band H properties in RBKC than there are in Leeds, so the burden of council tax is split between more residents.

Because for reasons that are not clear to me the bands are set nationally, and not as a percentile of operty values in each LA.

Not that the houses in this street shouldn't be band H, but there will be a lot of more modest homes which might be D or E elsewhere, pushed into band H in K&C. I doubt you could find a band H home in Hull.

Avatar
Hirsute replied to wycombewheeler | 1 month ago
0 likes

The bands are set nationally but what band you are in depends on local conditions, so a 3 bed house could be band A in one area and Band G say in another.

Council Tax is only one income source and govnernment grants seek to reflect differences in the council tax base by giving areas with a lower base more grants from Revenue support, Baseline and Settlement funding.

It used to be that if everyone spent at the average level, we'd all pay the same council tax per band.

 

Avatar
Milkfloat replied to Hirsute | 1 month ago
0 likes

Considering that the accommodation in Buckingham Palace pays less council tax than half the country, judging the exclusivity of a road by its council tax rates is not wise. 

Avatar
open_roads replied to headingley | 1 month ago
0 likes

That's down to the people elected to run your local authority then!

Pages

Latest Comments