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Cycling speed monitors unveiled in London Fields telling riders not to go faster than 12mph

PUBLISHED: 18:14 24 November 2017 | UPDATED: 10:28 01 February 2018

Sinister: The smiley face displayed if cyclists ride below 12mph. Picture: Madeleine Saghir

Sinister: The smiley face displayed if cyclists ride below 12mph. Picture: Madeleine Saghir

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Hackney Council has unveiled what are thought to be the UK’s first public speed monitors for cyclists in an attempt to slow them down in London Fields.

The lights display a smiley face when cyclists keep to 12mph - but turns red when they exceed it. Picture: Madeleine SaghirThe lights display a smiley face when cyclists keep to 12mph - but turns red when they exceed it. Picture: Madeleine Saghir

The system is similar to the road signs that automatically tell cars to slow down when they exceed the speed limit.

Speed monitors at either end of the main north-to-south cycle route through the park use radar to determine a cyclist’s speed. The path goes from Broadway Market to Martello Terrace.

A green smiley face lights up if the rider is going at 12mph or slower, and warns him or her to slow down with a red angry face if the speed is any higher. That limit is set by park by-laws.

The monitors were brought in after complaints from pedestrians that riders were going too fast.

London Fields. Picture: Madeleine SaghirLondon Fields. Picture: Madeleine Saghir

But cyclists probably won’t be penalised if they do, the council said: “Our aim is just to encourage them to slow down and take their time in the park.

John, 40, who cycles every day, told the Gazette he believed it was a good thing, while cyclist Tess, 35, agreed. “I have a child so I think it’s a good idea,” she said. “I don’t know if it will make a big difference – maybe it’ll make people more aware that they need to be slow.”

Another cyclist, who asked not to be named, said: “So many kids are around here and they’re not always on the right side, so it’s dangerous if cyclists are going fast. There are also lots of dogs, and if a cyclist hit them it would kill it.”

But some were unsure. Dexter, 28, who works at a bakery, said he cycled for two hours every morning.

“I don’t think the speed limit for cycling is necessary,” he said. “Why is the focus on cyclists when people drive cars?”

Asked if he’d had any near misses riding through the park, he said: “Not so much. I have to dodge dogs and kids a lot, though.”

Yasmin, 29, who does not cycle but regularly visits London Fields, said: “I think it’s good because they come round really fast.

“I have got kids and sometimes I have to pull them out of the way.”

Lights for cyclists have been put up in London Fields. Picture: Madeleine SaghirLights for cyclists have been put up in London Fields. Picture: Madeleine Saghir

Cllr Feryal Demirci said: “We welcome safe cycling in our parks as they provide pleasant green routes away from motor vehicles.

“London Fields in particular is an established route for commuters, with around 4,000 people cycling through the park each day.

“However, London Fields is not a road – local residents walk, use wheelchairs, push buggies and exercise their dogs in the park every day.

“Green spaces are places to relax, breathe and take it easy, so we want people on bikes to drop their speed a little bit, look out for others and make sure everyone can enjoy the park.”

Bikes parked in London Fields. Picture: Madeleine SaghirBikes parked in London Fields. Picture: Madeleine Saghir

New measures also include brightly coloured crossings for kids and signs asking people to slow down.

Similar LED signs are already in use in Hyde Park.

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