Alexandra Palace in North London, often known as Ally Pally or 'The People’s Palace', is as beautiful as it is iconic, and I never tire of admiring it - the views and the way sunlight hits the building first thing in the morning are stunning.

Opened in 1873, Ally Pally’s original purpose was the same as it is now, to serve as a public centre for recreation, education and entertainment. I’m currently training for a four-day cycle ride in the Alps, so pedalling up to Ally Pally has become part of my training regime. But there’s one problem. The cars. And not just any cars - it is cars that are speeding and even racing.

One weekday evening I made my way up the hill, only to be overtaken at a very high speed by two drivers who looked to be racing each other. I saw the terror on the face of the person cycling ahead of me as he turned around and realised they were about to roar past him.

Ham & High: Carla Francome has narrowly missed being hit by a car while cycling around Alexandra PalaceCarla Francome has narrowly missed being hit by a car while cycling around Alexandra Palace (Image: Carla Francome)

I did another lap of the hill, but the same thing happened again - the same two cars. I got to the top and tried to stop my hands from shaking. If they’d made one wrong move overtaking me at that speed I’d have been dead.

Local friends told me this is very common and has been happening for decades, and the car park attendants said they see it all the time - particularly as there’s a roundabout at the top and bottom of the hill so it’s easy to turn around.

I’m completely flummoxed as to why this is allowed to continue. The road leading up to Alexandra Palace is private - if the trust wanted to, they could close the road and put in a bus gate. A shuttle bus could nip up and down and take people to the venue.

The road was recently closed for the venue’s 150th birthday. Families spilled over the street normally taken up with cars, playing football or pushing prams. It was blissful, and thousands of people managed to get there with the road closed.

Ham & High: People safely walking around Ally Pally with the road shut (Image: Carla Francome)

Alexandra Palace can not be The People’s Palace when it allows this racing, speeding and endless driving on the road through Alexandra Park. Those in charge need to understand the damage it’s doing to the venue and take action fast, before someone gets seriously injured.

It should be the People’s Palace. Not a training ground for those thinking they’re at the Grand Prix.

  •  Carla Francome is a cycle campaigner and patron of the London Cycling Campaign.