Heath and Hampstead Society warn against more cycling on the Heath – but back ‘bold plans’ for routes around it
PUBLISHED: 18:15 30 June 2020
Complaints about cyclists not following the rules in place on Hampstead Heath during lockdown are growing, and community have also argued cycling infrastructure improvements around north London shouldn’t include encouraging more bikes onto the Heath itself.
This week the Heath and Hampstead Society intervened in the discussion by saying: “The Heath is not, and should not be made, part of London’s transport infrastructure”.
Criticising “at least six proposals” made by members of the public in response to Camden Council’s consultation on the issue, the society added: “There is simply not the space on the existing pathways for more cycling on the Heath.”
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The society’s Heath committee chair, John Beyer, told the Ham&High he was “absolutely in favour” of “bold” action to make cycling safer and easier in London, but said the Heath’s walkers and its delicate eco-system should be protected.
John told this newspaper; “My personal view is that it’s a really good time to be looking at it. It’s using the bad thing of Covid to bring some better things.”
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He added that while cycling routes around the Heath, such as along Spaniard’s Road, should be extended, “we have to be very careful” about increasing cycle traffic on the Heath.
Saying that the society had received a steady stream of complaints about cyclists during lockdown, he added: “We favour cycling, but not on the Heath. It’s for the boroughs to make cycling around the Heath more accessible.”
The Heath for Feet campaign, which successfully argued against an expansion of cycling on the Heath in the mid-2000s, is also anxious to ensure new cycle-routes across the Heath are not introduced.
The campaign’s Christine Fox told this newspaper she was worried for elderly walkers should the Heath “become a commuter route”.
In 2018, the Camden Cycling Campaign proposed increasing the number of shared-use paths for walkers and cyclists on the Heath, A spokesperson for the City of
London Corporation (CoLC) who manage the Heath reminded users cycling is only permitted on the four “shared use” paths on the Heath, and was not permitted elsewhere. They added: “Staff patrol these areas to engage with cyclists, and non-cycling signage is installed in areas such as Sandy Heath, where the local ecology is particularly vulnerable to this activity.”
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