Bicycles in Kensington Gardens

This article is written by a member of the public who wants to share his story of his daily commute. Jay is a Bayswater resident and daily user of Kensington Gardens with his two small dogs. After the third incident in which he had to jump in front of a reckless, speeding cyclist on a pedestrian-only footpath in the park to yet again save one of his dogs from injury of worse, he began a campaign to keep cyclists off such paths. In the year since this started, he’s learned that most every pedestrian park user with whom he’s spoken is highly frustrated and wants something done about this dangerous problem. This can also affect our children.

The story goes that Queen Caroline gave Kensington Gardens to the public as a safe space for children and pets to enjoy nature. The park is a safe space no more, due to cyclists illegally using the pedestrian-only footpaths. It is true that many of them ride along at a slow pace, but others rocket along as if they’re competing in the Tour de France. Regardless of speed, no cyclist over the age of 10 should be cycling along such footpaths.

Ten years ago four dogs, to include a puppy, were killed over a few months time by cyclists using these paths. That caused an uproar and led to a safety campaign headed by the actresses Jenny Seagrove and Felicity Kendall. In the time since, more dogs have been hit and either injured or killed. Pedestrians have been hit and knocked down, to include a woman in her 60’s walking along a pedestrian-only footpath. In fact, even a police-officer was hit and knocked down, causing a chipped tooth and a broken collar bone…!

Over the last year, I’ve had more than 100 conversations with parents of small children, elderly people, and other dog owners who are highly frustrated with the illegal and dangerous cycling activity. There are two shared, pedestrian-priority paths through the park, and these are the only paths that cyclists should be using, yet we continue to get heavy cycling activity along the pedestrian-only North Walk (parallels Bayswater Road), the Lancaster Walk (runs north/south from Lancaster Gate to the Albert Memorial, past the Horse Statue), along the Diana Memorial Walk (just north of the Round Pond), and at the Marlborough Gate (nearest the Italian Gardens).

The problem is bad enough now due to riders on their own bikes, combined with those using one of the 11,500 Boris Bikes, (properly known as Santander Bikes), using the footpaths at will. It’s going to get much, much worse if TfL approve even just one of the four proposed ‘dockless’ bike hire schemes. Of the four companies in contention to deploy dockless bikes around the capital, just one is proposing up to 150,000 cycles for Greater London…! If you are not familiar with these schemes, please click here to read about them.

To be completely clear, we are NOT anti-cycling. Not at all. In fact, many of us involved in this current campaign, yours truly included, are avid cyclists. I have two bikes hanging in our flat, and I use them often. But, I am also a dog owner, and would be devastated should one of my dogs be hit and injured, or worse, by some reckless cyclist careening along a pedestrian-only footpath. And all the worse should this happen to a child. If you are not familiar with the recent ‘bike vs. four-year old child’ incident in Windsor, click here. THIS is exactly what we are trying to prevent.

If this issue is of concern to you, please join our Facebook Group. We need your help…!