More than Roses
Regents Park (RePa)is a hidden gem found in the heart of London. Famed for it’s rose gardens, food festivals and the wonderful outdoor theatre, it is enjoyed by both residents and visitor alike.
However, there exists a wider community of people who make use of this park of delights; for safety, freedom and success. These are the Regents Park Cyclists (RPC), a partnership of people and cycling clubs that work with the wider community, to promote all forms of cycling in the park. Since the very beginning of the club, we have used and gained from this urban haven, and as such, the London Baroudeurs (LBCC) are proud to partner with this growing and exciting community.
Make a Circle
Less known is the rich heritage of cycling greats that have rolled through Regents for both pleasure, and training. The likes of Sir Bradley Wiggins, and even Mark Cavendish have graced the outer-circle of this park because of it’s unique location and excellent course, especially during the early hours of the morning; when the gates are closed to motorised vehicles.
Imagine a smooth-unclutterd wide road that runs 6.2KM (3.8miles) flanked by fine trees and open spaces, grand buildings, a soft gradient that’s picks up just enough to make you notice it; then repeat. For runners, dog-walkers, residents, and visitors it is an ideal park. In terms of cycling this is a gift. From new members, to seasoned LBCC members, to our women and junior development team, and friends like Justin pictured above, this is a space we can celebrate both wellbeing and community-spirit in an open space, in the fresh air.
Stop Means Stop
The welcome expansion of the CS11 cycle super-highway will be going directly through RePa. As a result several groups need to consider how this will impact users. Clearly the park needs to be shared, and a sense of calm must be maintained to manage the increased burden, coming from all road users, it is expected to shoulder. Despite consulting with planning experts, as well as with representatives from RPC, there is now a real threat that there will be an introduction of potentially 15 raised platforms, or speed humps to the park.
Unfortunately, people who cycle are still being tainted with the same brush stroke.
“No matter what happens between a bicycle and a car, the car is always going to injure the cyclist. It will never be the other way around.” – Russell (driver and cyclist)
In negotiating with the different groups related to RePa, cyclists are often seen as not respecting the law. Naturally, our ability to negotiate is being undermined every time someone chooses to jump a red light in the park. In response, RPC continues to run a very successful programme of raising awareness through conversations and sharing materials that carry this important message.
The ‘Stop Means Stop’ campaign asks that if we are to continue to enjoying the outer circle of RePa, then we all have a responsibility to be respectful of the law. Let’s encourage our fellow cyclists not to spoil it for the rest, and not to give more reason for the ‘haters’ to ‘hate’. There is so much more that can be shared with enthusiasm, words of encouragement and a smile.
Open, Safe, and Free
For many, Regents Park is a place where families take their walks. Creating fond memories – feeding the birds; whilst sitting by the bandstand; watching the seasons change; lying in the grass and enjoying the delicious Cornish ice-cream; a place for worship; shooting hoops at the university; or learning to fall many times before getting back on your skates; and of course there is the amazing London Zoo!
With so much going on, it’s easy to not see the people that have made RePa their cycling home. Every park user from: Justin Levene, training for his next race and ultimately, the Paralympics; Jude aged 10, who has won 5 times in a row on the racing circuit; Eli aged 9, who climbed the might Alpe d’Huez with his best friend Jude; and for the many men, women and children who make RePa their home, changing the park and introducing raised platforms will be a disaster for both their safety and freedom to practice what they love.
It doesn’t have to be this way. If you value the social, riding and accessibility that Regents Park offers, then contact us or the RPC today. Much of the organisation and conversations have already been achieved, and you’ll be getting involved in a community that is very much up and running. There are projects that are giving back to the local the community, with further plans that will see the RPC continue exciting activities into the new year.