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Richmond Park Critical Mass, Saturday June 14th 2003
(By Ben aka 'corporate whore')
Such a fantastic day for a ride in the park. The sun is shining, the weather is a sweet 30 degrees. At one with nature, nothing to hear but the siren songs of the the local wildlife. Ah, how beautiful it sounds.
"Why don't you get out of the way? You don't pay for the roads!" Experts among you will recognise that as the call of the greater-spotted Blue Rinse, native to these parts.
Here's another. Quiet, or you might miss it...
"You fucking cunts are only making things worse!"
That, of course, is the common or garden Foulmouth Parkwalker, or vulgaris richmondus , teaching its' in-two offspring how to charm park users with its distinctive, varied vocabulary.
And I thought a Critical Mass in Richmond Park would be a gentle affair, far removed from the hustle of the traditional end-of-month central London beano....
The brainchild of pressure group Friends of Richmond Park, the June 14 CM was designed to highlight the huge amount of traffic that uses the medieval deer park as a convenient short-cut. Indeed, the cyclists, probably numbering around 60, found that out for themselves, with one grumpy car-bound person grumping about how late he was going to be for a party.
After about half an hour of backed-up traffic and irate drivers, the police - car at the front, car at the back, surly looks - decided it was best to let us get on with it in splendid isolation and began diverting the traffic away from behind the CM.
Thus we ambled gently around three-quarters of the park unhindered and unhindering.
So was it a success, in that for a couple of hours less traffic passed through the park, or a failure, in that too few motorists saw and understood (and some do, y'know) what went on? I'd go for the former.
An interview on LBC for the organiser, some new converts for the monthly CM and appreciative looks from the wonderful deer. And it's their opinion that counts, 'cos it's their park.
Who's up for Regents Park next, then?
FORP blurb: Friends of Richmond Park estimates 96% of weekday motor traffic is using it as a short-cut. On Sundays it is 80%. The group is supporting a proposal to shut the park to traffic during rush-hour.
For their part, The Royal Parks Agency is putting forward a consultation document containing that option, along with traffic calming measures, a 20mph speed limit (currently 30), road charging and providing public transport within the park.
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