Much of Hampstead Heath looks set to remain off limits for cyclists after one reader said it was "ridiculous" that bikes are not allowed across most of the iconic park.

The Ham&High asked its Facebook community where it would like to see more cycle lanes in Hampstead.

Responses went from 'Nowhere, cycling is for w.....s' to ' get around those slow moving shoppers' to 'Everywhere! Fitzjohn's and East Heath'.

One respondent, Jane Edwards, suggested Hampstead Heath would be safer than some roads.

She said: "Across the Heath. It’s ridiculous that there is no cycling allowed across the majority of the Heath…would be safer than using the cycle lanes on some roads where many motorists are anti-cyclists.

"A safer route for children who could cycle to school also."

Cycling on Hampstead Heath has been a contentious issue for many years.

John Chamberlain, of Camden Cycling Campaign, said the group has campaigned for many years for more cycling to be allowed on the Heath but it "wasn't getting anywhere".

With some cycle lanes not connected, direct journeys across the Heath are not always possible.

He said: "We've got some really short routes that could be joined up a bit better but in the past we've always found a lot of resistance to that from people who use the Heath for other purposes and not much support from the Heath consultation committee and other bodies so it's not something we've campaigned on recently."

In June 2020 Camden Council launched a Safe Travel online survey, in which most people said they favoured the Heath being for pedestrian enjoyment rather than cycling.

The Heath and Hampstead Society filed an objection to more cycle lanes during that survey and its position has not changed

John Beyer, chair of the society's heath committee, said: "If someone had come along 30/40 years ago asking for more cycling we'd probably be more relaxed but our main argument against it now is the sheer numbers of people on the Heath now."

He said this has gone from five million ten years ago, to 10 million and now 15 million since the pandemic.

He added: "It's lovely so many people use the heath, but the paths can get very busy.

"It's nice people can use the dual paths to cycle but we don't want to see any more."

Campaign group Heath for Feet was set up after a deaf walker was hit by a cyclist. 

Co-founder Maureen Clark-Darby said: "These shared paths don't work for everybody. People have impediments you can't see, like not being able hear, or see, or being old.

"We feel it's such a glorious place and it's lovely for people to be able to walk and meander without worrying about a vehicle and for children to run wild without worrying about a vehicle.

"We want to preserve areas that are just for walking."

Its other co-founder Christine Fox said there was an "argument for both sides".

She said: "Children cycling to school is a good idea but I'm not sure about ordinary commuters cycling at high speed. We need protection for walkers."

A spokesperson for the City of London Corporation, which manages Hampstead Heath, said: "The Heath is a very special natural environment that needs to be protected, and we aim to find the right balance between our different users and the site’s biodiversity".

They said the corporation continues to work with Camden Council "to maximise the Heath’s potential for its users, including Camden's transport planners".

They added: “In a recent public engagement for improvements at Parliament Hill, the vast majority of feedback from the community was to make sure the Heath is kept as natural as possible.”

They said feedback was sought for a draft Parliament Hill plan proposing improvements to facilities such as the playground, sports pitches, "and improvements to the natural environment" but is still "at a very early stage".

They added: “We are currently developing a funding strategy and if funding is secured more detailed plans will be developed and put to the public for their views.”