Should cycling be banned in parks & the countryside?
It was reported last year in my local newspaper that a cyclist had been prosecuted for cycling at 41 miles an hour in Richmond Park (the speed limit is 20). When the story first appeared one user of its website called for a ban on cycling in the Park (at more than 2500 acres it is the largest urban park in the UK and one of the largest in Europe), which made me wonder whether cycling should be banned in all parks and the open countryside. A controversial idea, I know, but let’s consider some of the pros and cons of cycling, shall we?
Obviously cycling is a healthy activity, working the leg muscles and probably improving balance and coordination (though not as healthy as walking or running, which help keep the heart in good condition); it causes no direct pollution (of course there is pollution from the manufacture and distribution of bicycles); in an accident with pedestrians bikes cause less severe injuries than cars; and if people cycle, it reduces the number of motor vehicles on the road, therefore decreasing congestion and traffic pollution.
That’s on the plus side. Now what about the downside?
In my experience – and I emphasise this is my personal experience over the last twenty-five years or so – there are a lot of selfish and aggressive cyclists around, especially in Richmond Park. In there they often ride where they are not allowed, cycle fast down narrow paths when there are people walking and often overtake cars or block the road by cycling side by side (the roads are not very wide), which, when it inconveniences other people, is illegal. In town, they routinely ride on pavements (again, illegal here), the wrong way down one-way streets and through red traffic lights; there have even been cases where they have assaulted people who dare to complain, in one case leading to the death of a 69-year-old (I think) television scriptwriter.
So, should the authorities ban cycling in parks and the open countryside? For once, I’m not going to take a stand on this. I simply ask my readers to consider it and, preferably, comment at the end of this post. However, I will say this. Last year a cyclist was killed riding down Broomfield Hill in the Park (where some cyclists race down the steep slope at reckless speeds. He was riding very fast, lost control and hit a tree.
Over to you, dear reader.