Wednesday 4 September 2013

Creating pleasant routes for cycling takes time

On Monday thousands of cyclists seeking clear 'Space for Cycling' attended a protest ride around Parliament, where MPs were discussing how to 'Get Britain Cycling'. 

There is cross-party consensus that getting people riding their bikes is to be encouraged with regards to health, environment, pollution, congestion and economy. It's also recognised that people prefer to cycle away from motor traffic and that it is safer to do so.

It is important, however, that those seeking change do not set their expectations too high. As an indication, expect that it will take over a year and half, with a few reminders, to have 'except cycles' added to 'No Entry' signs in a place where cycling is already legal.

12/03/2012 Me to Park Manager: The Mall closure on Sundays
Can you please let me know why there is not an exemption permitting cyclists to cycle along the Mall and Marlborough Road on a Sunday when the road is closed? It would seem an excellent opportunity for families to cycle there, especially as it is part of a recommended cycle route. Do you have plans to permit cycling on these roads on Sundays in the future?

19/03/12 Park Manager Reply
Your e-mail regarding not being able to cycle on the Mall on Sundays comes as a surprise to me, and to our police inspector also, in that we do permit such exemptions! I certainly am passed by many cyclists on the Mall when I am doing my rounds on a Sunday.  The only time this is not the case is if we have a specific event on - such as this coming weekend when we host the Sport Relief Mile - or whilst Changing the Guard is taking place.

If you have been prevented from doing so I suspect it may have been by officers tasked from other areas who may not be especially familiar with the park?

I do apologise if this has been the case and my Inspector has reminded his officers that this is something we do permit, on the consideration of course that the activity being conducted is in such a manner that it is not discourteous or a danger to others.

19/03/12 Me to Park Manager:
Given the Royal Parks' intent that people can cycle on the Mall and Marlborough Road on a Sunday can you please arrange to replace the temporary 'No Entry' signs you currently use (photo attached) which the law states applies to vehicular traffic, including pedal cycles, at the entrance to the Mall and Marlborough Road with the 'No Motor Vehicles' sign (flying motorcycle over car) or have the recently permitted 'Except Cycles' added beneath the 'No Entry' signs?

19/03/12 Park Manager reply:
Thank you for your suggestion. We will give this some consideration.

19/03/12 Me:
It'll be great if these can be corrected. I teach cycling to pupils in Westminster schools, including not only the meaning of 'No Entry' signs, but also of course the importance of obeying signage including the 'No Cycling' and 'Considerate Cycling Permitted' signs in the Royal Parks (normally Kensington Gdns/Hyde Park/Regents Park) that we visit on Fridays! 

19/03/12 Park Manager:
...and of course you are absolutely right! I am just surprised that it has taken over 20 years for anyone to raise this with us or even for ourselves to notice!!

I need to look at my budget and at what signs are available. If we are unable to replace outright it may be a phased introduction as and when other signs get damaged.

14/05/2013 Me:
You may remember we had an exchange of emails a little over a year ago concerning the incorrect signage for the Mall etc. on Sundays when cycling is permitted but 'No Entry' signs are used, which apply to cycles also.

On Sunday a pedestrian took great exception to me pootling on my bike on the Mall and, unsurprisingly, wouldn't accept my statement that cycling is permitted but the signage is wrong. A policeman by the 'No Entry' sign at the entrance to Horse Guards Road confirmed that cycling is in fact permitted.

Can you please let me know when you will be changing the signage?

14/05/2013 Park Manager 
I'm sorry to learn that you have been harangued.  We did start looking for off the shelf signage but could not find suppliers, and did not have funds available at the time to commission bespoke signage. With your reminder we shall again explore the possibility of doing so.

14/05/2013 Me riveted,superglued or similar over your existing signs should do it I reckon.

15/05/2013 Park Manager:
Thank you. However I was thinking along the lines of 'Road closed except for cyclists' but will ask our H and S manager and police for their view also.

01/09/2013 Me:
Now it's September and the 'No Entry' signs still haven't been corrected. When will the correct signs arrive?

03/09/2013 Park Manager:
We hope to have the new signs on site in October 2013. To save on cost we are looking at purchasing a few different bespoke signs at the same time from a supplier. There has been an exchange in correspondence regarding the images on these signs which are both appropriate and legal for use in St. James's Park.

We are nearly there with our procurement of these signs.

UPDATE 15/12/2013
The signs have not been replaced.