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Controversial Richmond Park Code of Conduct for cyclists cannot address “real hazard” of motor traffic, says campaign group co-ordinator

Code drawn up by group representing riders who use the Royal Park has been criticised on social media

A Code of Conduct published by Richmond Park Cyclists (RPC) reflects mostly “the common sense and legal approach to cycling anywhere” according to one local campaigner, but cannot address the “real hazard” facing visitors to the Royal Park – namely, motor traffic.

> Richmond Park Cyclists’ co-founder responds to critics of controversial Code of Conduct

Drawn up over the past year but until recent weeks available only on the RPC website, as we reported on our live blog on Tuesday some elements of the code, such as advising cyclists that “Motorists can be frightened too” have attracted criticism on social media.

> Do not frighten drivers and keep the noise down: Richmond Park Cyclists’ new Code of Conduct

Responses to the code have included Twitter users highlighting examples of poor driving in the park, such as a close pass that we featured on the live blog yesterday.

> “More cyclists scaring drivers”: Richmond Park close pass shocker

Tim Lennon, co-ordinator of Richmond Cycling Campaign, the borough group affiliated to London Cycling Campaign, told road.cc that there should be a code of conduct for motorists using the park.

He said that the Code of Conduct for cyclists “is mostly the common sense and legal approach to cycling anywhere.

“The team at RPC have done a good job basically recording what most good riders will do automatically – taking care around others, giving priority to pedestrians, and so on.

“What the code can't do – because it is for cyclists – is address the real hazard in the park, motor traffic.

“We might argue over some of the rules – for example any large group is entitled to ride more than two abreast, and probably should do – but the sad reality is that most of the advice here is as much about the mud slung by intemperate cycle haters, who seek to use the poor behaviour of a small minority in order to restrict the enjoyment of the thousands of cyclists who visit the park every day,” he added.

Road safety and active travel campaigners have called for motor vehicles to be permanently banned from Richmond Park, but earlier this year, The Royal Parks extended its trial Movement Strategy there by 12 months to end in March 2022.

The trial, initiated last August when the park was reopened to motor vehicles, banned during the first national lockdown, aims to reduce through traffic and restricts some roads only to drivers seeking to access car parks.

Videos posted to social media regularly show traffic queueing in the park, and in February our Near Miss of the Day series included this compilation video of several similar incidents at the southwest London beauty spot.

The same month also saw a cyclist taken to hospital with facial injuries after being struck by a driver who subsequently crashed their car into a tree, as shown in the main picture above.

The Code of Conduct for cyclists using the park was drawn up by RPC, which describes itself as “an umbrella group representing all cyclists and para-cyclists who use Richmond Park.”

The group was founded several years ago “as a means of creating a dialogue with The Royal Parks (the body in charge of Richmond Park), the Metropolitan Police and key stakeholder groups.”

The code was finalised last year following several months of discussion with The Royal Parks, the park police unit, other stakeholders and subscribers to RPC’s monthly email newsletter.

Now, the full text can also be viewed on the group’s new noticeboard installed earlier this year close to the Roehampton Gate car park, and that wider advertising of the code appears to be what has sparked the attention it has received this week.

Credit card-sized summaries can also be found at the nearby Colicci Café in the park, as well as at Cycle Exchange in Kingston and Pearson Performance in East Sheen, and police officers who patrol the park also have a stock of them to hand out to cyclists.

Simon has been news editor at road.cc since 2009, reporting on 10 editions and counting of pro cycling’s biggest races such as the Tour de France, stories on issues including infrastructure and campaigning, and interviewing some of the biggest names in cycling. A law and languages graduate, published translator and former retail analyst, his background has proved invaluable in reporting on issues as diverse as cycling-related court cases, anti-doping investigations, and the bike industry. He splits his time between London and Cambridge, and loves taking his miniature schnauzer Elodie on adventures in the basket of her Elephant Bike.

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