Richmond Park entrance from Sawyers Hill. Picture: Google Streetview
October 4, 2023
Female drivers in Richmond Park have reported “frightening harassment” from angry male cyclists who incorrectly believe they’re not allowed to be there, including banging on and spraying water over their cars. The Met Police said the alleged incidents of abuse and harassment had caused “upset, anxiety and fear”.
Although some roads in the park are closed to general traffic, certain vehicles are authorised to use them – including park staff, volunteers, students, residents and service vehicles. The police said the alleged incidents followed male cyclists incorrectly believing the female drivers were not allowed to travel on the roads.
Royal Parks Police tweeted on 2 October, “We have had several reports from female motorists who are authorised to drive on the closed roads in Richmond Park of abuse and harassment, including banging on the vehicle and throwing water over the car, by male cyclists, as they believe incorrectly that they are not authorised.
“This behaviour is not acceptable and has caused upset, anxiety and fear. Please be aware that permit holders are authorised to use the closed roads. We conduct regular checks on vehicles to ensure the drivers are authorised.”
Paul Richards, Richmond Park’s manager, said, “While Sawyers Hill is closed to public motor vehicles at the weekend, to provide a welcoming environment for all visitors, a small number of vehicles are authorised to use the roads – including park staff, parents dropping children off at the Ballet School and visitors accessing the stables.
“We are extremely concerned that female drivers, including those driving alone or with children, have reported frightening harassment by a small number of males on cycles, such as shouting and banging on their car, and spraying the car with water. Harassment is a crime, and it is not tolerated. The incidents have been reported to the police.”
The Royal Parks made measures that were previously introduced to reduce traffic in Richmond Park permanent last year, including closing the road between Broomfield Hill Car Park and Robin Hood Car Park and the road between Sheen Gate and Sheen Cross to vehicles. Sawyers Hill is also closed to vehicles at weekends and public holidays between Richmond Gate and Roehampton Gate.
Charlotte Lilywhite - Local Democracy Reporter
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