The reopening of roads through Richmond Park to cars prompted a furious online backlash on Tuesday (August 11), despite assurances from park management about their implementing of "car free" zones inside the park.

Councillors and cyclists in the area were among those voicing their disappointment with the decision, which sees cars return to the sprawling green space after they were banned in March amid the government's response to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.

The move to reintroduce cars in a limited way was announced on Tuesday by Royal Parks, who manage Richmond Park and a number of other London green spaces.

They said that the reopening of some roads to cars, to begin Saturday (August 15), would be mitigated by six-month trials of "car free spaces" in Richmond and Bushy Park.

The trial means that Bushy Park will see a full-time closure on Chestnut Avenue between Teddington and Hampton Court Gates to motor traffic.

Meanwhile a "weekday trial" at Richmond Park "will restrict all through-traffic between Broomfield Hill Car Park and Robin Hood Car Park and close the vehicle link between Sheen Gate and Sheen Cross."

Further restrictions on traffic will apply to Richmond Park at weekends, Royal Parks said.

Despite the announcement of car-free trial spaces, a furious online backlash hit Twitter on Tuesday afternoon, with residents slamming the reintroduction of cars to the park.

"Massively disappointed by @theroyalparks' decision to restore vehicle access between Richmond & Kingston Gates in Richmond Park," Norbiton Councillor Olly Wearing tweeted, describing the move as a "A totally wasted opportunity".

Many of those commenting were cyclists, who were themselves only recently readmitted to the parks on August 1 after Covid-19 restrictions were eased.

Pro-cycling group London Cycling Campaign described the Royal Parks decision on cars as "reckless and drastic" in a tweet posted Tuesday:

"Our parks are for people, not traffic. A park cannot be both a safe, accessible and enjoyable space for cycling and also a rat run. @theroyalparks must reconsider this reckless and drastic proposal..." A spokesperson said.

Barring a significant U-turn before Saturday, however, Royal Parks seemed set to reopen some spaces for car access through Richmond and Bushy Parks.

Their statement emphasized what seemed to be common goals between the park management and those lamenting Tuesday's decision.

"Richmond and Bushy Parks are much loved by local residents and those from further afield who are seeking to escape the hustle and bustle of the city for a breath of fresh air," Mat Bonomi, head of transport for the Royal Parks, said.

"The reduction of cut-through traffic in these parks has already dramatically changed them for the better, allowing visitors to experience their beauty without a backdrop of commuter traffic.

"Never before have we seen so many families and children walking, riding and playing on Chestnut Avenue," he added.

"We believe this project will go a long way to reducing the negative effects of cut-through traffic. The trial will ensure all car parks are still accessible for those who need them."

For full details on the proposed changes to traffic through Richmond and Bushy Parks, click here.