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Concrete steps are being taken to open up nature reserve to cyclists

PUBLISHED: 19:06 16 August 2007 | UPDATED: 14:36 07 September 2010

HARINGEY COUNCIL S proposals for the Parkland Walk continue to fascinate. Cllr Brian Haley, the council s head of environment and conservation, is quick to point out this week that there are no plans to concrete over what he cutely describes as the surf

HARINGEY COUNCIL'S proposals for the Parkland Walk continue to fascinate. Cllr Brian Haley, the council's head of environment and conservation, is quick to point out this week that there are no plans to concrete over what he cutely describes as ''the surface of the path''.

Maybe not, but paragraph two of the main design proposals published on the council's website and dated July 2007, state that ''the recommended material for the base layers is dark grey crushed concrete'', topped up with a surface dressing of rather less offensive crushed aggregate.

So while you may not be able to see the concrete, it will be there all right! Tut tut, Cllr Haley.

These arguments, however, are largely pedantic. What can't be disputed is that the resurfacing options that are being flagged up by the council, contain alternatives that are highly conducive to speedy cycling along a route that has been traditionally used by walkers and joggers.

One option pictured on the council's website is a smooth limestone dust surface, rolled onto a coarse sub-base, already used on a section of the walk near Muswell Hill. Another picture, taken alongside it, is of a wider path at Epping Forest but it has no accompanying description.

For the information of readers, the path in question consists of hoggin, the term given to a low-cost mixture of clays, sands and gravels to form a material that compacts into a stable and usable surface. Cyclists would love it.

Either of these options would achieve the 'improved surface' which is 'suitable for cyclists' and thus entitles the council to have the work paid for out of the mayor's budget for enhancing London's cycling network.

The council also insists that the proposals should reflect the hierarchy of nature reserve, pedestrians and joggers, and cyclists, in that order. If the council was really genuine about this, then it seems obvious that the walk should be left as is, since any disruption or significant increase in use wouldbe bound to adversely affect its natural balance.

It's also interesting that Cllr Haley claims that the whole process is about ''giving residents what they want''.

Perhaps he might tell us in next week's edition where the pressure to improve the Parkland Walk came from in the first place. He could shed light on which local groups were involved in lobbying for these improvements, and reveal exactly how many requests the council received to ''provide an improved surface and route for all users'', prior to it embarking on this highly questionable exercise.

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