The following information has been issued by The Royal Parks charity and Richmond Council following the closure of Duke's Head Passage to cyclists in Bushy Park:
The Royal Parks closed Duke’s Head Passage to cyclists in May 2016 after park managers raised concerns about the behaviour of some cyclists and having been made aware of near misses with other park users.
Since then we have worked with Richmond Council, which commissioned the walking and cycling charity Sustrans to produce an independent report on the route. The Royal Parks has also taken into account the views of the local communities surrounding the park.
That report has concluded that while Duke’s Head Passage is an important link between Hampton Village and across Bushy Park, the more significant conflict issues occur where 'the pathway is constrained and the visibility of people approaching is most restricted'.
It has set out a number of recommendations stating that implementing them could provide a safe and attractive shared-use route for people on foot and on bicycles.
Following these recommendations, the route will be re-opened by the end of this week (w/c 17 July) to cyclists with signage advising that it is a pedestrian priority area, and where possible bushes and shrubs will be pruned and verges mown to improve visibility.
On our signage we’re making it clear that Duke’s Head Passage is a pedestrian priority area and that ‘considerate behaviour is welcome’.
Although we will be re-opening the pathway for cyclists to share, it must be stressed that we continue to have concerns about the behaviour of some cyclists, and we hope that cyclists will not give us cause to re-appraise our assessment of the risks posed to pedestrians in the future.
We mustn’t lose sight that across all the Royal Parks, wildlife and pedestrians are our priority, but we recognise there is a big juggling act to accommodate the huge range of visitors, and millions who enjoy the parks every year.
We welcome considerate cyclists in our parks, but it is essential we manage them in a way which also considers the needs of all park users.