CamdenNewJournal

The independent London newspaper

Cyclists push for more routes on Hampstead Heath

Should more paths be created for people visiting the Heath by bike?

08 February, 2018 — By Dan Carrier

Hampstead Heath [Pic: Dudley Miles]

CYCLISTS say new bike routes on Hampstead Heath would help ease traffic-congested roads.

The City of London, which manages the Heath, has said it will keep the request for more cycling routes under review after once again being asked to explore the idea. Heath superintendant Bob Warnock has already received a petition for a new cycle path leading to the Ladies’ Pond and is facing calls from Camden Cycling Campaign (CCC) to open up five new routes.

The pleas are the latest chapter in a long-running debate over whether more access should be granted to cyclists, who risk fines and court prosecution if they try to cross the Heath without following a designated route.

The Heath For Feet group has campaigned for cycling to be banned. Mr Warnock has told the Heath Consultative Committee, a panel which brings the management face to face with users and civic groups, that there were no plans for new pathways. Discussions, however, have taken place with the groups involved.

“We are continuing with our previous position, when it was suggested we create a new shared path to the Lido – we have no plans to extend them at this point in time,” Mr Warnock said. “Our emphasis is on maintaining the current paths we have and looking at better facilities for locking bikes up at entrances to the Heath. There is pressure from Camden Cycling Campaign, who want an additional five pathways on the Heath. Going forward, we will review the cycling issue.”

The City plans an overall policy review “between 2018 and 2020” into introducing new cycle ways on the Heath, which could see access limited to certain times of the day during the week and none at all over weekends. Many cyclists have told Heath managers that an existing path that takes bikes from Millfield Lane across to Hampstead, which is in many stretches made up of sand and gravel, is unsuitable for cycling.

CCC co-ordinator John Chamberlain said new routes could encourage children to cycle to school and help reduce the heavy traffic that clogs up roads around the edges of the Heath.

“We have been campaigning for 10 years to have some small, additional improved routes on the Heath,” he said. “These little routes would link up those that exist already and make them better connected for families and children to use.”

Cyclists would need to obey speed limits and act responsibly, he added. The routes could be policed to ensure there was no conflict with walkers. He said: “There are ways of designing routes to encourage people to cycle slowly.”

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