Reality of cycling on Heath is not as green’ as it seems

Green councillor Maya De Souza (pictured) appears to have a blinkered view of cycling on Hampstead Heath. She seems to assume that cycling equals green, equals cycle paths on the Heath, and uses this assumption to justify her support for the Camden Cycling Campaign

Green councillor Maya De Souza appears to have a blinkered view of cycling on Hampstead Heath. She seems to assume that cycling equals green, equals cycle paths on the Heath, and uses this assumption to justify her support for the Camden Cycling Campaign's current efforts to increase the number of such paths. The reality on the Heath is very different.

Cllr De Souza should get her priorities right and realise that the greenness of Hampstead Heath is actually damaged by cyclists, whose use of the Heath as part of the local transportation network is at the expense of the vast majority.

The greenness of the Heath is far better catered for and preserved for future generations by pedestrians who, whether they walk, run or play, endanger nobody; pedestrians who stop and look and listen and love the Heath for itself, and do not regard it as the means to extend the local transportation network.

Cllr De Souza expresses the fear that "the powerful voice of walkers would swamp the pleas by cyclists expanding the bike network", but this is turning the argument on its head. It is the pedestrians who, when walking, are threatened and feel "swamped" when cyclists bear down on them, on and off the paths on the Heath.


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Bicycles are machines, and many of them appear as threatening to walkers as many car drivers appear to cyclists - unpredictable and dangerous.

As to the "swamping" numbers of pedestrians who oppose any increase in the number of cycle paths, this is hardly surprising when an estimated 95 per cent of Heath users are pedestrians - it is called democracy.

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Hampstead Heath does not exist to serve the needs of cyclists - it is too precious to be a commuter by-way, enabling increasing numbers of cyclists (if the CCC have their way) to criss-cross the Heath. And while cycling is certainly a greener method of transport than is motoring, the greenest method of all is walking.

The Heath is a small piece of hilly natural countryside, not a "park" as many of those who rarely or never use it insist on calling it, and this piece of countryside does not deserve to be carved up by more cycle paths.

The very idea of the Heath, this precious and unique space, being carved up to facilitate a cycling commuter network is appalling.

David Levy

Courthope Road, NW3

I write in support of the Heath for Feet Campagn. As I walked down the path from Kenwood, some boys were cycling (illegally) at high speed behind me.

Unable to stop, one of them crashed into me, knocking me to the ground at great force, injuring my wrist, cutting my hand and breaking my hip.

This has necessitated a full hip replacement. A child or an older person could have been killed.

My accident provides concrete evidence of the danger bicycles constitute for pedestrians on the Heath. Those who argue for the expansion of designated bicycle paths ignore the fact that, once on the Heath, cyclists inevitably stray from the paths.

Surely there should be a place in London where we can walk in peace and safety.

ROZSIKA PARKER

Archibald Road, N7

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