PLANETSKI’S LOCAL PARK NOW CLOSED TO CYCLISTS
24th March 2020
Last modified on May 15th, 2021
It was inevitable given the behaviour of a small number of people on their bikes as they sped round the park in groups and some crowded round the gates.
What is wrong with some people?
The instructions are quite clear and the warnings repeated throughout the week.
The new UK rules announced on Monday night mean we are allowed out and into parks once a day in the UK for the purposes of exercise.
But to prevent the spread of coronavirus, restrictions were imposed on how we do it, including not riding our bikes in groups and keeping our distance from others out exercising.
Here at PlanetSKI, we urged you to follow the rules.
If not we feared the parks would be closed.
Earlier today we reported that the head of British Cycling had warned we might be banned from riding altogether (see lower down this article).
Despite all this, a very small percentage flouted the rules in Richmond Park in south-west London.
They were usually males, kitted out in lycra and bombing round the road on their expensive bikes as if they were in training for the Tour de France.
Mostly too close to each other and too close as they overtook, thus potentially helping to spread Covid-19.
They showed the same tendencies as the panic buyers, those that headed to the pub for a final few pints once the government announced they were closing and the people that headed off to the Highlands in Scotland and other beauty spots in their camper vans.
There were also crowds developing at the park gates with a small handful of people not keeping the 2m distance rule.
And so they have ruined it for the rest of us, who were practising the correct social distancing.
The Park, though, is open for cycling for key workers.
Here is the official information:
Cycling suspended in Richmond Park:
Cycling in Richmond Park will be suspended until further notice from Saturday 28th March to support the government’s social distancing guidelines to stay two metres apart from others.
This measure is designed to prevent crowds at park gates, which have recently become hugely congested with visitors taking their daily exercise.
Key workers can continue to cycle through the park to work if they show their staff pass.
Those aged 12 years and under can also continue to cycle in the park, though any adult with them has to walk.
It seemed the younger ones on wheels probably enjoyed the new state of affairs.
I gave up riding on the road in the park several days ago due to the selfish minority and instead took to the off- road cycle tracks to avoid the minority coming into my space.
Fortunately Wimbledon Common is also a local park and remains open for off road cycling, so I have relocated to there.
I look forward to exploring its back paths away from the crowds.
While I still can.
I saw my first bluebells of spring on the way back
Let’s hope people can behave better in Wimbledon.
SATURDAY 28th MARCH – AM
KEEP YOUR DISTANCE – PLEASE!
Cyclists in the UK have been warned to stop riding in groups this weekend and keep their distance from others.
“People on bikes were not the only culprits in last weekend’s mass dash to the outdoors but, despite strong guidance from ourselves and others, too many chose to ignore the prime minister’s instructions on social distancing, continuing to ride in groups and meet in cafes for a mid-ride chat,” says the CEO of British Cycling, Julie Harrington.
“This isn’t just irresponsible, it is putting people’s lives at risk.
“A repeat of that this weekend risks further Government measures to take away the privilege of riding a bike for all of us and now more than ever, it is not one we can afford to lose.”
PlanetSKI is currently pounding the pedals once a day in Richmond Park in London to get some exercise and have made our observations below across the past few days.
This was the scene on Friday in the park.
“95% of people were behaving responsibly but there were a few who were not,” said our editor, James Cove.
“More often than not it was the people, usually male, dressed up in all their lycra on their expensive bikes riding right beside each other which chatting/shouting away to each other and cutting closely through groups as they sped on.”
They will be stopping the rest of us enjoying views like this if the park is closed.
UPDATE – TUESDAY 24th MARCH
So far, so good.
Generally, the vast majority in Richmond Park are observing all social distancing – keeping 2m apart and not having groups of three or more.
A notice on the gate makes it quite clear.
The police are on hand acting as a deterrent and making their own observations.
Let’s keep it going folks.
It allows us to have views like this to lift the spirits.
RICHMOND PARK AT THE WEEKEND
I had heard they had closed it to traffic and restrictions were in place, so I expected people to be treating it like some sort of Bank Holiday.
As expected, the gates were locked to traffic.
The main gate even had a police presence.
However inside, in the main, I found people observing social distancing.
But there were exceptions.
Two lycra clad men on their expensive racing bikes sped past me.
“Yeah I may not do the group ride on Saturday with all the lads but doing this is fi…”
The end of the word was lost in the wind as they sped past potentially breathing out the virus.
I assume it was ‘fine’.
To my eye they were well under the recommended distance apart, breathing heavily and shouting to each other as they sped along in their invincible style.
I assume they rode like that round the whole park (especially as there were no cars), so I’d say that would be a pretty ideal way to spread the virus between them if one of them was carrying it.
Similar people in lycra were going in a single line in each other’s slipstream, so one person breathes out or coughs, and several others would be travelling through that air within seconds.
They probably thought they were fit and healthy and the cycling was doing them some good.
I saw similar bravado in Chamonix before I left, three days before all the resorts in France closed.
I had an invitation to ski the Vallee Blanche but I had decided to stop skiing a couple of days earlier.
Getting to the slopes put me in danger of contracting the virus: lift queues, gondolas, chair lifts and people packed into cable cars.
Perfect places for transmission.
Most people thought me slightly bonkers.
“Come on James, you’ll be fine it’s only Italy that’s got it,” was what most people said to me.
Well, I had come from Northern Italy and saw what was happening with my own eyes.
Fled is a more appropriate word as I left most of my stuff behind once I decided it was time to get out, and quick.
I think I am reasonably aware of how it spreads, and how quickly.
I decided that my skiing was over, and I left the Alps days before all the resorts closed often in a chaotic fashion that helped spread the virus rather than contain it.
Prior to leaving I had been taking all the precautions necessary and had been social-distancing well before it became an order.
And now we have further restrictions in the UK.
The majority that I saw in Richmond Park were behaving responsibly – just a few weren’t.
Our household has taken the precaution of buying a special device that lifts the back wheel of a bike off the ground.
Thus turning a bike into an exercise bike.
I am certain we will be using it, but if people behave responsibly in parks then not for a while.
It will be a shame for me, my family and others not to see similar views.
It is only a matter of time before myself and many others, won’t be able to as the minority will break the guidelines of the government.
Please, please prove me wrong folks.