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Victory for walkers keen to banish bikes from Heath

PUBLISHED: 13:11 04 April 2008 | UPDATED: 14:55 07 September 2010

WALKERS were celebrating this week after taking another step towards seeing cycling curbed on Hampstead Heath. Heath bosses have put the brakes on proposals for further cycle paths on the Heath after top level talks on Monday.

Marc Mullen

WALKERS were celebrating this week after taking another step towards seeing cycling curbed on Hampstead Heath.

Heath bosses have put the brakes on proposals for further cycle paths on the Heath after top level talks on Monday.

The Hampstead Heath Management Committee voted on Camden Cycling Campaign's proposals for eight new shared pedestrian and cycle paths. It completely ruled out six of the shared paths, and gave no guarantee the other two would be approved after further investigations.

Members of the Heath for Feet group, set up two years ago to fight the proposals, are celebrating."I am very pleased that the majority of Heath users is being heard," said founding member Maureen Clark Darby.

"I love to think that children can run wild on the Heath, without fear. That is sacrosanct. People can walk and meander and get lost in conversation on the Heath and that would change with more cycling. One member of the Heath management said, 'It's a heath and that is at the very heart of the matter - it is a heath, not a park."

Last summer a consultation and investigation into the proposed routes was carried out for the City of London Corporation by Intelligent Space Atkins. The process has so far cost £50,000.

The two routes that are being investigated further are a path from the Parliament Hill cafe to the Gospel Oak lido entrance, and a short link across the railway bridge to Savernake Road.

Committee member Rodney FitzGerald told the Monday meeting: "I don't want to see Hampstead Heath divided up into more cycle lanes. It's a place I always understood to be for pleasure, where people can wander across without cycles flying around."

Referring to how additional cycle lanes would be demarcated, committee member Maureen Kellett said: "I hate the thought of the Heath with more signs and flashing lights. It's unbelievable."

At the meeting Heath Superintendent Simon Lee revealed the results of a survey of cycle speeds taken on the Heath last week with video cameras and speed guns.

One cyclist was recorded travelling at 33mph, with the majority travelling between 15mph and 30mph despite the speed limit for cyclists being 12mph.

Mr Lee said: "The results are that speed is an issue that we have to address. Unfortunately at the moment we cannot use the legislation for fixed penalty notices, but we are looking into it."

Jeremy Wright, from the Heath and Hampstead Society, said: ""With more cycle paths we would have been throwing away what has been our birthright for the last 130 years."

marc.mullen@hamhigh.co.uk

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