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Richmond Park – the new South Circular

The draft report on how we use the park makes chilling reading.

The 2015 traffic survey shows a number of worrying aspects – though primarily the one raised by the majority of the attendees at the meeting held a few years ago by Zac Goldsmith: there is too much traffic in the park, and most of it is using the park just like it might use the South Circular or the A316.

Credit is due to the Royal Parks for the thoroughness and detail which the traffic survey provides us – not only do we find out where people enter the park, but where they leave, the times, the speeds, the original sources and destinations, and the relative volumes.

The report hasn’t been officially released but it’s been shared in its draft form, and if we take the data as it appears, there’s a lot to see:

  • On a typical week (‘neutral’) week just 12% of morning (8am-9am) traffic and 9% of afternoon (5pm to 6pm) traffic is actually people coming to Richmond Park to visit it.
  • Even on Saturdays and Sundays the percentage of cars coming to the park was just 31% and 41%
  • Summer sees a significant fall in traffic into the park, suggesting that local school and business journeys are part of the volumes here: the morning volumes fall by 40.3% and the afternoon volumes fall by 29.4%..
  • Traffic flows in the typical week show very clear preferences for moving back and forth between specific gates, with Richmond and Kingston gates showing the highest volumes.
  • There’s a lot of speeding, especially on particular sections of road: between Kingston and Roehampton Gate every car speeds, with a significant number reaching 30mph..
  • Traffic on Broomfield Hill (on average) never manages to keep to the speed limit.
  • Lots of people get around the park by bike, with thousands of visitors every week arriving on wheels they’ve powered themselves.
  • Summer is a lot more popular to be in the park on a bike!
  • On weekdays, less than 20% of visitors who filled in response cards reported that they came to the park to actually visit it.
  • A quarter of typical weekday traffic is using the park for the school run
  • There is no day when the majority of people who drive through Richmond Park describe the purpose of their visit as ‘visiting Richmond Park’. (Although including ‘Leisure’ does finally tip the balance on some occasions.)
  • Around three quarters of the trips through the park on a typical weekday morning begin and end in one of the boroughs bordering the park.
  • Even though there still seem to be high volumes of traffic in the park at the moment, the volumes have slowly fallen more or less consistently since 1998.

If the final report confirms this analysis, then we think there’s a good case for the Royal Parks either closing Richmond Park to through traffic or introducing Congestion Charge style pricing to discourage through traffic.

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