Update on Olympics trial, Sunday August 14

On August 1 the FRP met with the various bodies involved in organising the Test Run of the Olympics cycling road race (the trial is being called the “London-Surrey Cycle Classic”) to discuss their detailed plans.

In summary, there will be considerable protection of the sensitive ecology of the Park. The route (Roehampton to Richmond Gate on the outward leg, Kingston to Richmond and then Roehampton Gate on the return leg) will have crowd control barriers on either side of the road to separate the riders from the crowds and much of it will have a second barrier set back from the road to protect the acid grassland and veteran trees from the crowds (creating a corridor for spectators which they get into from a few locations).

There will also be fencing stretching back from the road around very sensitive areas (Barn Wood, Sheen Cross Wood and the area of acid grassland and ant hills on the slopes of Saw Pit Plantation and at the top of Sawyer’s Hill); all veteran trees along the route will have barriers around them.

There will be professional stewards along the route (people who are used to stewarding events) and at the gates. We are told they had a day’s training, including a briefing on the sensitive areas and park regulations; those at the gates will in theory be telling people entering the park to treat it properly, including keeping dogs on a lead. There will also be signs on the fencing at the sensitive areas. Extra litter bins are being provided at crossing points and the Park’s normal litter pickers will be working overtime.

All the wildlife officers (and some experienced landscape maintenance contractors who know the deer herds) will be monitoring the deer. Both Park management and staff from Natural England will be there at various points to monitor things.

At least 40 Friends’ volunteers will also be monitoring things at pre-assigned points, with a notepad and camera, and we will be feeding back our work to TRP and LOCOG, the race organisers.

The Friends will also be staffing an information stall at Richmond Gate, to explain to visitors about the Park. We would like to thank all of you who have volunteered. It should be an interesting day!