Memorandum by the Royal Parks (RTS 156)
I apologise for not replying earlier to the
Committee's inquiry into Road Traffic Speed and problems of speeding
on the roads in the Royal Parks.
The Royal Parks are owned by the Monarch in
right of the Crown. Under the 1851 Crown Lands Act the responsibility
for managing the Royal Parks was transferred to the Commissioners
for Works (now the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport).
The Secretary of State has delegated the day management of the
Royal Parks to the Chief Executive of the Royal Parks Agency.
The roads in the Royal Parks are not public
highways and are not maintained by local highway authorities as
part of the local road network. They are maintained by the Royal
Parks Agency and policed by the Royal Parks Constabulary. The
speed limit on park roads is 30 miles per hour.
The park roads were created for a variety of
purposes. Some, like The Mall, Constitution Hill in St James's
Park and South Carriage Drive in Hyde Park are ceremonial routes;
others such as Chestnut Avenue in Bushy Park and the Outer Circle
and Inner Circle in Regent's Park are landscape features. Most
of the rest were built to service people living, working in and
visiting the Royal Parks.
To emphasise the distinction between the park
and the public highway, we avoid where possible installing urban
signage and street furniture. We also avoid painting white lines
on the ceremonial routes and the traffic islands and traffic lights
on these routes are portable so that they can be removed for state
The principal legislation governing activities
in the Royal Parks is the Royal Parks and Other Open Spaces Regulations
1997. These are made under powers conferred on the Secretary of
State by the Parks Regulations (Amendment) Act 1926.
Some aspects of the Road Traffic Act 1972, the
Transport Act 1982 and the Road Traffic Regulation Act 1984 were
applied to park roads by the Crown Roads (Royal Parks) (Application
of Road Traffic Enactments) Order 1997.
Vehicles constructed, adapted or in use for
the purpose of a trade or business are not allowed in the Royal
Parks without prior permission and this is restricted to those
vehicles carrying out business with residents or businesses in
the parks. There are two exceptions: taxis, which may provide
a service for park visitors, and coaches which are allowed to
travel down The Mall and Constitution Hill to bring tourists to
see Buckingham Palace.
The problem of speeding is not necessarily more
acute in the Royal Parks than elsewhere on the capital's roads;
we prosecute approximately 3,000 motorists each year for speeding
in the Royal Parks and issue warnings to a further 1,500. It is
arguably more important, though, because the parks exist principally
for the enjoyment of people seeking to escape the pressures of
their urban surroundings, not least the traffic.
The increasing number of vehicles adversely
affect the visitors' enjoyment of the parks by creating a physical
and visual intrusion in the historic landscapes and hampering
the movement of pedestrians. The speed at which they travel constitutes
a danger to other park users.
Speeding is a problem chiefly on the ceremonial
roads, ie South Carriage Drive and North Carriage Drive (Hyde
Park), The Mall (St James's Park), Constitution Hill (Green Park).
These are long straight roads, wide enough in places to take three
cars in each direction, and they seem to invite drivers to speed.
The Outer Circle (Regent's Park) is another road which, though
not so wide, seems to encourage drivers to speed.
Speeding is difficult to control on these routes
because, as ceremonial routes, the usual armoury of speed restrainsspeed
humps, road narrowing schemesare not appropriate. There
are traffic lights at junctions on South Carriage Drive and The
Mall, but they do nothing to reduce the speed of traffic between
The challenge for the Agency is to find, over
time and as funds become available, effective ways to design out
the problem while maintainting the special character of the park
roads. Where that is not a viable option, less subtle but more
traditional measures may be necessary.
Head of Strategy
28 May 2002