James May slams cyclist restrictions 'nonsense' as road safety debate rages

Former Top Gear presenter James May has said it would be “nonsense” to restrict cyclists in places such as Regent’s Park.

The TV presenter has condemned “disrespectful and irresponsible” cyclists who have been racing around the famous park, warning that doing so can lead to accidents.

His comments come as The Royal Parks called for a Regent’s Park cycling route to be removed from sports apps after an 81-year-old woman was killed by a speeding cyclist.

Cyclists on the Outer Circle in Regent’s Park
Cyclists on the Outer Circle in Regent’s Park

Addressing the case, and debates about speed restrictions for cyclists, May told TimesRadio: "I don't think people should try to achieve personal bests through places like London. And I don't think people should race around the park. I think that is disrespectful and irresponsible and can lead to accidents.

"The vast majority of people can't achieve even 20 miles an hour on a bicycle. I ride a lot in London, and I'm not particularly fit and I'm getting quite old.

“But even so, my average speed is usually ten to 12 miles an hour and I'm putting my back into it.

"Trying to cure the world's problems by adding more admin is pointless and expensive and makes life miserable.”

Referring to one debate on another radio station, he added: “There were some terrible things being said on that about regulating bicycles, and bicycles were being blamed for drivers speeding and people were saying insurance would make bicycles safer and all sorts of things that were, to my mind, nonsense."

The Royal Parks, which runs some of London’s most loved spaces, has written to GPS app companies requesting the Outer Circle be removed from their tracking devices.

Cyclists often use the apps to record training sessions or time trials over certain distances or routes.

The Royal Parks has also reached out to cycling clubs to remind them they must respect speed limits set for vehicles in the park, the Telegraph reported.

It comes after Hilda Griffiths was killed when she was hit by Brian Fitzgerald, a director at Credit Suisse, cycling at 29mph in the 20mph zone in June 2022.

He was completing timed laps using a Garmin device.

From the collision, the retired nursery teacher suffered bleeding in her brain, vomited blood and sustained several fractures. She died 59 days later.

Police were unable to prosecute the banker because speed limits do not apply to pedal bikes, an inquest heard.

A Royal Parks spokesman said: “We were extremely sorry to hear of the incident which resulted in the death of Hilda Griffiths.

“We take visitor safety extremely seriously. The speed limit for motor vehicles in Regent’s Park is 20mph and this is clearly signposted on both the Outer and Inner Circles.

“We are working closely with the police and other partners, notably the Crown Estate Paving Commission, to review if there are any additional measures we can put in place to encourage safe cycling in the park, as we have done in Richmond Park where we have introduced raised crossing points, improved signage and other road infrastructure.”