CCC News Update


Paul Gasson <paulgasson@...>
 

Items in this bulletin:
Another cyclist dies... yet the battle for a safer cycling environment
continues to rage
Newsgroup migration complete
Cycling in the Local Papers
CCC Rides - 25th - 27th Aug (pre-booking required), 30th Sept.
Exceeding the speed limit still widespread
Chain Links
A Bicycling Mystery: Head Injuries Piling Up (despite increase in USA helmet
use)
Cycling in the local papers: Death, Heath, Seven Stations Link...

Paul Gasson
Camden Cycling Campaign Co-ordinator
[Campaign home page: http://www.greengas.u-net.com/home.html
Previous updates can be found on our latest news web page at
http://www.greengas.u-net.com/hotnews.htm
To send a message to everyone on this list, email to:
CamdenCyclingCampaign@yahoogroups.com ]


Another cyclist dies... yet the battle for a safer cycling environment
continues to rage
'Editorial'
This week's Ham & High reports that a 69 year old cyclist died after being
knocked off his bicycle 10 days ago in Church Row near the Heath Street
junction (see 'Cycling in the Local Papers' later in this update).
Whilst this is probably an unfortunate statistical 'blip', 3 cyclists have
been killed in Camden in the last 8 months. A cyclist was run over by a
'tipper truck' in Tavistock Square in late November, and an other died in
Dartmouth Park Hill in February. A further 28 cyclists suffered serious
injuries in our borough in 2000.

Meanwhile the debate is continuing in the local papers (9 articles and
letters this week) about cycling on the Heath (fuelled in part by the Heath
and Hampstead Society's anti-cycling campaign), and on the subject of the
high quality Seven Stations Link running past Coram's Fields in Guilford
Street (the trust running the Fields is worried about children being
squashed by cyclists). And the council's £400,000 scheme to reduce
rat-running through Covent Garden has been 'scrapped' after 4 weeks
following a rebellion led by taxi drivers. Given the relatively minor impact
of these changes, it seems highly probable that the soon to be implemented
right turn motorist ban at the top of Camden High Street will lead to
further sensationalist local press headlines and howls of outrage.

What a bizarre society we live in where our local government has a raft of
policies aimed at car restraint which is apparently supported by most
people, yet attempts to implement anything meaningful is fought tooth and
nail at every turn.
If we cannot implement effective policies in Camden with the chronic
problems we suffer as a result of our lives being dominated by the motor
car, what chance of success is there elsewhere in the UK?

Maybe this week's Camden New Journal letter writer who argues that 'cycling
needs a spin job' has got a point. Central and local government, and
campaigns such as ours, clearly have to work even harder on changing public
awareness and perceptions. More resources obviously need to be devoted to
promoting the benefits of getting people out of their cars and making
alternatives such as cycling and walking more attractive. And the social and
other consequences of failing to reverse increases in unnecessary car
ownership and use need to dramatically spelt out.
Otherwise the battles over improvements to our street environment will
continue to unneccessarily drain the public purse and divert council staff
from getting on and acheiving contructive & innovative change.

Whilst a staunch supporter of local democracy, I must confess to feeling
rather bored by the predictable nimbyistic protests we routinely encounter
in Camden. I hope that the council sticks to its policy principles and has
the guts to continue to push through pro-sustainable transport schemes even
if they do not have strong local support; this is essential if the borough
is to dam the tide of car users. Whilst accountability may weaken under
Camden Council's imminent new political cabinet system, with strong and
visionary leadership this change could prove a blessing in disguise if nimby
protests can be ignored.

Perhaps CCC should put up a few well placed candidates in next year's local
elections whose main theme is motor traffic & road danger reduction. Who
knows, we could sweep the board and before our electors knew it have an
ambitious programme of residential road closures in place. Whilst there
might be a bit of a fuss initially, home owners would see their properties
rise in value once rat running was stopped, rediscover the pleasures of
local shopping, watch their kids frolic in the street outside... only the
most addicted of car users would want to reverse the closures.
Paul Gasson, CCC Coordinator


Newsgroup migration complete
After 3 years with its former 'Listbot' server, all subscribers to CCC's
newsgroup should have now been migrated to a new Yahoo based group. You may
modify your newsgroup setting (eg to receive daily or weekly newsgroup
'digests') by visiting our newsgroup's home page.

Our newsgroup home page is at:
http://groups.yahoo..com/group/CamdenCyclingCampaign
To send mails to the CCC newsgroup, the email address is:
CamdenCyclingCampaign@yahoogroups.com
All emails you receive from the newsgroup will have the subject header
preceeded by the text "[CCC]".

If you experience any difficulties as a result of our migration to Yahoo
please email me: paulgasson@greengas.u-net.com


CCC Rides

Saturday 25 August­Monday 27 August
East Anglia Bank Holiday Tour
About 100 miles over 3 days, staying in B&Bs. Moderate-pace ride in gentle
countryside on quiet roads with plenty to see, also taking in some ferries.
Starts and finishes at Liverpool Street Station. Necessary to book with
David by 10 August. David 020-7431-2964 david@darditti.com

Sunday 30 September
Kentish Hop 35 miles, figure of 8 ride, Camden to borders of Kent via
interesting byways, incorporating parts of Sustrans "Waterlink Way"
traffic-free path. Easy pace, return by train if tired. Meet Hampstead Old
Town Hall, Haverstock Hill at 11.30 am. David 020-7431-2964
david@darditti.com


Exceeding the speed limit still widespread
Government Press Release TR-013, 26 July 2001
Latest figures show that the percentage of vehicles exceeding the speed
limit remains high on all types of road.
The main features of new statistics are:
More than half of all cars on motorways and dual carriageways travelled
faster than the speed limit; 55 per cent of those surveyed on motorways
exceeded 70 mph and 17 per cent were travelling in excess of 80 mph.
On urban roads with a 30 mph speed limit, 66 per cent of cars exceeded that
limit, 32 per cent travelling faster than 35 mph. On 40 mph roads 25 per
cent of cars exceeded the limit, with 7 per cent exceeding 45 mph.
Motorcycles were the vehicles most likely to be speeding on 40 mph urban
roads; 36 per cent exceeded the speed limit, 21 per cent by more than 5 mph.
On 30 mph roads, 35 per cent of motorcycles were travelling at more than 35
mph.
The survey also reveals a high incidence of speeding by Heavy Goods
Vehicles. On urban 30 mph roads, 54 per cent of 2-axle HGVs exceeded the
speed limit, 19 per cent by more than 5 mph. On major, non-urban single
carriageway roads, 76 per cent of articulated HGVs were exceeding their 40
mph limit (27 per cent by more than 10 mph), and their average speed was
about the same as for cars (for which the limit on these roads is 60 mph).
The proportion of cars exceeding the speed limit in 30 mph zones has fallen
slightly in the last 4 years. But overall, average speeds have changed
little.


Chain Links

Bicycles chained to these railings will be removed
http://www.whatshouldiputonthefence.com/index.php
This web site site now has a cult following, and was started by a cyclist
who was taken aback when the railings in Marylebone where he regularly
locked his bike were defaced with a notice stating that 'bicycles chained to
these railings will be removed'.
Being of an imaginitive disposition he has experimented to see what happens
when other items are locked to the fence. The fridge door attracted much
interest, but many others including the teapot and Lucky the tiger
disappeared quickly.

The importance of wearing a cycle helmet in the bath.
http://www.guardianunlimited.co.uk/Archive/Article/0,4273,4010624,00.html

An article in the New Statesman suggests we should welcome traffic
congestion
http://www.consider.net/forum_new.php3?newTemplate=OpenObject&newTop=2001072
30017&newDisplayURN=200107230017


A Bicycling Mystery: Head Injuries Piling Up
New York Times Sun 29/7/01.
By JULIAN E. BARNES

Millions of parents take it as an article of faith that putting a
bicycle helmet on their children, or themselves, will help keep them
out of harm's way.

But new data on bicycle accidents raises questions about that. The
number of head injuries has increased 10 percent since 1991, even as
bicycle helmet use has risen sharply, according to figures compiled
by the Consumer Product Safety Commission. But given that ridership
has declined over the same period, the rate of head injuries per
active cyclist has increased 51 percent just as bicycle helmets have
become widespread.

What is going on here? No one is very sure, but safety experts stress
that while helmets do not prevent accidents from happening, they are
extremely effective at reducing the severity of head injuries when
they do occur. Almost no one suggests that riders should stop wearing
helmets, which researchers have found can reduce the severity of
brain injuries by as much as 88 percent.

Still, with fewer people riding bicycles, experts are mystified as to
why injuries are on the rise. "It's puzzling to me that we can't find
the benefit of bike helmets here," said Ronald L. Medford, the
assistant executive director of the safety commission's hazard
identification office.

Some cycling advocates contend that rising numbers of aggressive
drivers are at fault, while others suggest that many riders wear
helmets improperly and do not know the rules of the road. Some
transportation engineers say there are not enough safe places to ride.

Many specialists in risk analysis argue that something else is in
play. They believe that the increased use of bike helmets may have
had an unintended consequence: riders may feel an inflated sense of
security and take more risks.

In August 1999, Philip Dunham, then 15, was riding his mountain bike
in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park in North Carolina and went
over a jump on a trail. As he did, his back tire kicked up, the bike
flipped over and he landed on his head. The helmet he was wearing did
not protect his neck; he was paralyzed from the neck down.

Two years later, Philip has regained enough movement and strength in
his arms to use a manual wheelchair. He has also gained some
perspective. With the helmet he felt protected enough to ride
off-road on a challenging trail, in hindsight perhaps too safe.

"It didn't cross my mind that this could happen," said Philip, now
17. "I definitely felt safe. I wouldn't do something like that
without a helmet."

In the last nine years, 19 state legislatures have passed mandatory
helmet laws. Today, such statutes cover 49 percent of American
children under 15.

And even some professionals have embraced helmets. While a majority
of the riders in the Tour de France have worn helmets infrequently,
Lance Armstrong, the American cyclist favored to win the race today,
wore a helmet through most of the race.

Altogether, about half of all riders use bike helmets today, compared
with fewer than 18 percent a decade ago, the first year the safety
commission examined helmet use.

During the same period, overall bicycle use has declined about 21
percent as participation in in-line skating, skateboarding and other
sports has increased, according to the National Sporting Goods
Association, which conducts an annual survey of participation in
different sports. Off-road mountain biking is often considered more
risky than ordinary bicycling, but it is unlikely to account for the
recent increase in bicyclists' head injuries. Participation in
off-road mountain biking has declined 18 percent since 1998, the
association said.

Even so, bicyclists suffered 73,750 head injuries last year, compared
with 66,820 in 1991, according to the safety commission's national
injury surveillance system, with the sharpest increase coming in the
last three years. Children's head injuries declined until the
mid-1990's, but they have risen sharply since then and now stand near
their 1991 levels even with fewer children riding bikes.

The safety commission is now investigating why head injuries have
been increasing. Officials hope that by examining emergency room
reports more closely and interviewing crash victims, they can find
out if more of the injuries are relatively minor, and how many people
suffered head injuries while wearing helmets. Some bicycling
advocates have questioned the statistics on participation in
bicycling, and the commission plans to re-examine those as well.

Dr. Richard A. Schieber, a childhood injury prevention specialist at
the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the leader of a
national bicycle safety initiative, said public health officials were
realizing that in addition to promoting helmet use, safety officials
must teach good riding skills, promote good driving practices and
create safer places for people to ride.

"We have moved the conversation from bicycle helmet use to bicycle
safety," Dr. Schieber said. "Thank God that the public health world
is understanding there is more to bicycle safety than helmets."

Promoting bicycle helmets without teaching riders about traffic laws
or safe riding practices can encourage a false sense of security,
according to several risk experts. Helmets may create a sort of
daredevil effect, making cyclists feel so safe that they ride faster
and take more chances, said Mayer Hillman, a senior fellow emeritus
at the Policy Studies Institute in London.

"You would be well advised to wear a helmet provided you could
persuade yourself it is of little use," Dr. Hillman said.

One parallel, risk experts said, is anti-lock brakes. When they were
introduced in the 1980's, they were supposed to reduce accidents, but
government and industry studies in the mid-1990's showed that as
drivers realized their brakes were more effective they started
driving faster, and some accident rates rose.

Insurance companies have long been familiar with the phenomenon,
which they call moral hazard. Once someone is covered by an insurance
policy there is a natural tendency for that person to take more
risks. Companies with workers' compensation insurance, for instance,
have little incentive to make their workplaces safer. To counter such
moral hazard, insurers may give discounts to companies that reduce
hazardous conditions in their factories, said Robert Hartwig, chief
economist for the Insurance Information Institute.

"People tend to engage in risky behavior when they are protected," he
said. "It's a ubiquitous human trait."

Even cyclists who discount the daredevil effect admit that they may
ride faster on more dangerous streets when they are wearing their
helmets.

On May 5, Noah Budnick, a 24- year-old New York resident, was wearing
a helmet and cycling on Avenue B in Manhattan when he had to pull out
from the side of the street to avoid a double-parked car and a
taxicab idling behind it. As he moved to the left, the cab pulled
out, striking Mr. Budnick. He broke his fall with his hands and did
not hit his head on the ground, but the accident left him with a deep
cut on his leg and a badly strained knee.

Although the cab was at fault for the accident, Mr. Budnick said, if
he had been riding more slowly he might not have had the accident.

"I probably would have ridden more cautiously and less aggressively
without the helmet," he said. "I don't know if I would ride in
Manhattan at the speed I was going."

Still, many cycling advocates contend that it is not bicyclists but
drivers who are more reckless. Distractions like cell phones have
made drivers less attentive, they say, and congestion is making roads
more dangerous for cyclists. They also believe that some drivers of
sport utility vehicles and other trucks simply drive too close to
cyclists.

Brendan Batson, a 16-year-old high school sophomore in central Maine,
had been knocked off the road twice by drivers, so as he entered the
home stretch of a 60-mile ride on May 26, he was wearing his helmet.
But as he passed through Norridgewock, Me., riding along the shoulder
of a rural highway, a pickup truck struck him from behind. It hit
Brendan with enough force to rip the helmet from his head, the straps
gouging his face before tearing off. Brendan was dragged along the
road, past a friend he was cycling with, then thrown to the side. He
was killed instantly.

It is difficult to show statistically that drivers have become more
reckless in the last decade. The percentage of fatal bicycle
accidents that involved cars has declined, falling from 87 percent in
1991 to 83 percent in 1998, according to the C.D.C.

Thom Parks, a vice president in charge of safety for the helmet maker
Bell Sports, said safety standards could be upgraded and helmets
could be designed to meet them. But that would make helmets heavier,
bulkier and less comfortable. "There are limits to what a consumer
would accept," Mr. Parks said, adding that if helmets became bigger,
fewer people might wear them.

Dr. James P. Kelly, a neurologist and a concussion expert at
Northwestern University Medical School, said that even as helmets
were currently designed, patients who were wearing them when they
were injured were much better off than those who were not.

"Bicycle helmet technology is the best we have for protecting the
brain," Dr. Kelly said. "The helmets serve the function of an air
bag."

But the most effective way to reduce severe head injuries may be to
decrease the number of accidents in the first place.

"Over the past several decades, society has come to equate safety
with helmets," said Charles Komanoff, the co-founder of Right of Way,
an organization that promotes the rights of cyclists and pedestrians.
"But wearing a helmet does not prevent crashes."


Cycling in the Local Papers

OAP paperboy, 69, dies from bike crash
Ham & High 3/8/01
A PENSIONER who was knocked off his bicycle while delivering newspapers has
died in hospital.
Dennis Howard, 69, who lived in Lyndhurst Road, Hampstead, suffered serious
head injuries when he collided with a parked Vauxhall van on Tuesday last
week.
The accident happened in Church Row at the junction with Heath Street while
Mr Howard, a former motorbike racer and author, was out on his regular
morning paper round.
It is thought that he may have been thrown from his bicycle by an open door
on the van. He was discovered shortly afterwards by an off-duty policeman.
Mr Howard, who had lived with his wife, Laura, in Old Conduit House for more
than 40 years, was taken to the Royal Free Hospital, in Hampstead where he
died on Tuesday.
Staff at the Hampstead newsagents where he worked yesterday paid tribute to
the much-loved newspaper delivery man.
Naimesh Patel, who runs Hampstead Newsagents in Holly Hill with his brother,
Jaymie, said that Mr Howard had completed his paper round every morning on
his bicycle for more than 25 years "like clockwork".
He said: "Everyone here is really shocked and cut up. He was a real
character - a very funny man and a real friend."
Police have appealed for witnesses to the accident, which happened at about
6.50am. Anyone with information is urged to call 020-7321 9943.


Cyclists 'could take over the Heath'
Camden Chronicle 2/8/01
CYCLISTS could dominate Hampstead Heath if they're given more paths,
community leaders warn.
Plans by the Corporatlon of London to increase cycle paths, maaang it easier
for cyclists to cross the heath, have sparked uproar from residents who say
it could become a new commuter network.
Brian Seddon of the Heath and Hampstead Society, said:
"I personally am very concerned about the prospect of more cyclists on the
heath. The whole point of Hampstead Heath is that it's supposed to be a
little piece of countryside. But if people start using it as a short cut to
get to work it'll become just another urban park.
"So far the cyclists have not shown sufficient responsibility to be given
these extra paths. They are very disobedient and there is a hard core group
who don't stick to the paths and break the speed limit. This presents a big
danger to pedestrians and it can be a real worry for little old ladies going
for a stroll to have a cyclist speeding towards them"
David Arditti of the Camden Cychng Campaign, said: "We suspect that the
Heath and Hampstead Society want to ban cycling from the heath altogether.
"What were proposing isn't a major change - its some cycle paths linking the
current ones to make it easier to cross the heath. We think the heath should
be a place where families can teach their children how to ride. Because the
paths are so hilly we don't think any commuters will be using them to get to
work.
"The campaign does not condone irresponsible cycling behaviour and we would
like to set up education programmes to help prevent this. We think the heath
is big enough for the both of us - cyclists and pedestrians."
A Corporation of London spokesman said: "Our consultation document on the
plans was sent out to 2000 different heath users and the process ended this
week. We will be considering the views of everyone who takes part when we
put together our proposals."


Give us a day that is really car-free
Camden New Journal Letters 2/8/01
I WAS disappointed to read that Camden Councii has given up plans to close
streets in Highgate for the European Car Free Day on Saturday, September 22.
Last year's event at Seven Dials in Covent Garden was a great success and
deserved to be followed by a much larger event. A car-free day must be a day
where a whole community gives up the use of the car for at least a few
hours.
I believe that only a relative small percentage of Camden residents were
aware that something was happening at Seven Dials last year.
Last year's event probably did not dissuade a single person from using the
car. It is interesting that Camden is actually organising one of the major
events for London 'matched' only by Ken Livingstone's plan to close Tower
Bridge. In the meantime, other European town centres will be enjoying a real
carfree day.
This year Camden Cycling Campaign will again have a stall at Seven Dials and
will begin a campaign for a Real Car Free Day for Sunday, September 22,
2002. I hope all CNJ readers will resolve not to drive this September 22.
STEFANO CASALOTTI BeIsize Avenue


Bikes are a danger
Camden New Journal Letters 2/8/01
I FIND it difficult to imagine a more spurious, dangerous and deceptive
argument than Mr David Arditti's last week, for a commuters' cycling "rat
run" per se along the pathway that runs from Nassington Road to Highgate
Road (Making best use of Heath's
paths, July 19). He uses the emotive ploy of schoolchildren being forced to
cycle on to various busy high roads. But a different picture emerges if
seasonal and weather changes plus school holidays are taken into account -
that the pathway is little used during weekday mornings.
He has also overlooked the adjacent children's playground where toddlers of
unpredictable reactions enter and exit all day, every day.
To state the obvious, a bicycle cannot be heard! It is this fact, that
creates the danger to any walker, of whatever age, who unexpectedly makes
the wrong movement at the wrong time!
RONALD SHEPHERD, Mansfield Road.


Cycling needs a spin job
Camden New Journal Letters 2/8/01
I AM writing to thank Katherine Watts Harvey for her letter (Cyclists are
not Heath vandals, CNJ,July26).
Having followed arguments on this topic for the past few weeks, my
conclusion is that there seems to be a phobia where cyclists are concerned.
This is interesting, as I am the one who has been knocked off my bike by
cars and pedestrians quite a few times in the last 24 years. Could it be
because there are never any advertisements - on TV, radio, magazines or
newspapers - about the benefits of cycling? Apart from lip service, how much
support has the Department of Transport given to cyclists?
Why is it that only Camden Council positively acknowledges the need for
cycle lanes? Why couldn't all the London boroughs get together and link up
substantial lanes?
JAMILA B. Y. BERNAT Malda Vale


Can't report accident with a no-licence-plate cyclist
Camden New Journal Letters 2/8/01
I WAS very distressed to read the letters about the proposed cycle track in
Guilford Street (Cycle track is no danger to kids, There have been no
crashes between cars and people, CNJ, July 26). Both were excruciatingly
cavalier about the safety of children using the safest and most popular
playground for children in south Camden.
Both cyclists and children have a poor sense of the relative speed of the
other party. In addition, children are unpredictable and often risk-takers.
The whole venture seems to be predicated on Camden's attempts to gain green
credentials. It has invested in what must have been a very expensive
programme of cycle tracks that would be admirable were it not for the
congestion and pollution that arises from traffic having either to take
circuitous routes or to wait in line spewing out fumes in the resulting
single lane routes.
As for the self-satisfied boasting about the low rates of accidents
involving cycles, does nobody know how difficult it is to report such an
accident? I have been knocked down three times by bicycles, once badly
enough to go to hospital. No identification is required and no insurance is
available.
I would like Camden to tell us the cost of the prograrnme and give us
comparative costs of investments to make our roads safer for our children.
J A ROBERTS, Coram Street

This sport of speed a danger for the Heath
Tough to control mountain biking
Camden New Journal Letters 2/8/01
WHEN we speak of the cycling on the Heath I wonder how many of you really
understand the problem? I speak as a lifelong cyclist and onetime serious
mountain biker.
Are you aware that mountain bikes are more than capable of reaching speeds
of 60mph going downhill off-noad? And are near silent when doing so?
Mountain bikes typically have 21 gears, which take time to master, which in
turn will involve a lot of looking down at the chain wheels to see what they
are doing (rather than on what lies ahead). Riding a mountain bike with any
degree of skill is far harder than, for instance, a road bike.
The majority of riders are hopelessly inexperienced, have no idea of the
limitations of their brakes in the whole range of situations diiferent
weather can create, aren't especially interested in any other Heath users,
and will not easily be able to comprehend the concept of allowing for other
people's mistakes.
Think for a moment about blind spots, the long meadow grass, the tangled
undergrowth and trees. Sunbathers, bird watchers, nature lovers, the
elderly, children, dogs as well as walkers are often invisible until you are
right on top of them, and by then it's too late. Dogs are not the only
creatures to freeze or jump the wrong way when confronted with 90 kilos of
mountain biker travelling at 40mph appearing out of nowhere - people behave
this way too.
How many mountain bikers do you suppose will be happy with, say, a 15mph
speed limit? And who do you suggest will enforce it? You do realise we are
talking about a sport where speed is paramount. How many will be insured
against any damage they may do and, again, how will you enforce that?
How will you decide which areas are permitted and which are not - the Heath
is a very, very small area of land to a mountain biker - for many of them,
nothing less than unlimited and unrestricted access will do. This is real
thin-end-of-the wedge stuff.
Mountain bikers already range about the Heath, although in relatively
limited numbers at present. This could change. Is this, in the same way that
the area behind Jack Straw's Castle is for male homosexuals, going to be yet
another fait accompli? In other words, they are there and can't be stopped;
so we'll have to live with it?
As many have said in your letters page of late: the Heath is for everybody.
It is lamentable that there are not more places in and around London where
mountain biking can take place (although Epping Forest is one option), and
it is a fact that not all bikers are vandals, but as with the
gay-sex-in-public places problem, this idea, if it goes forward, will result
in the majority not only being made miserable, but also being placed in
considerable danger of the very real, and not the imagined, variety. I
strongly counsel against it.
TARQUIN KYLE Oppidans Road, NW3


Dirt bikers we saw did not cause damage
Cyclists are not Heath vandals
Camden New Journal Letters 2/8/01
AS the wife of an American ex-professional cyclist living on Parliament
Hill, I have followed the issue of off-road cycling on Hampstead Heath with
genuine interest.
WAWaugh (Keep those bikes in line, July 19) said one shouldn't "negotiate
with vandals". My husband and I recently met some of these "vandals" while
walking withour children through Sandy Heath. They were polite, motivated
and provided a group of onlookers, including our family, with several hours
of exciting entertainment. Their 'jumps' were hardly damaging to the woods,
as the
cyclists had piled up loose dirt from which to launch their bicycles into
the air.
We could not believe that they risked being arrested for simply riding their
bicycles in the wood - one young boy made a valid point about the gay
community being given free reign to partake in open sexual activity in the
woods. Our family has unfortunately witnessed this type of activity on the
Heath and it is most unpleasant.
The authorities need to get some perspective on this issue, before
criminalising any more young people for bicycle riding.
In the States, the NORBA organisation has made great inroads by working with
park authorities to provide proper bicycle taails in park space.
We were appalled at the state of Sandy Heath last week, after seeing a large
group of school children running riot. The following day we were very
surprised to see the off-road "vandals" collecting these sweet wrappers with
their trash-bags.
And there is the issue of local residents breaking glass at the top of cycle
trails - on Thursday we saw an old man smashing milk boffles over bicycle
jumps.
How much damage did the park rangers do by driving a mechanised digger
through Sandy Heath to knock down the bicycle jumps? Who are the real
vandals here?
WA Waugh, please get this issue into perspective, before you lose sight of
the importance of supporting young peoplc's sporting endeavours.
We're continually told via the media that boredom and the lack of leisure
activities are critical reasons for young people getting into trouble with
drugs and petty crime.
So why not support these young people, instead of seeking to ban them?
KATHERINE WATTS HARVEY Parliament Hill,


We should support youths
Camden New Journal Letters 2/8/01
IN a recent letter about off road cycling on Sandy Heath, Martin Humphery of
the Heath and Hampstead Society said it was unacceptable for any group to
have any part of the Heath "set aside" for their exclusive use.
So, it's acceptable for the gay community to use a large area (including a
bathing lake) for cottaging; with a yearly cleanup bill of £100,000? But
it's unacceptable for young people to ride bicycles off-road? For trying to
exercise and have fun we risk being arrested and getting criminal records.
Double standards perhaps?
Very few people walk through the area where we cycle. Do not confuse us with
the idiots who speed down the main cycle path in Hampstead Heath itself. As
for Sandy Heath being "sensitive", until 200 years ago it was a sand mine.
We have uncovered broken glass, litter and tin cans - hardly a sensitive
natural area!
Hampstead Heath is an important leisure resource for all Londoners,
including cyclists; it simply needs proper management. At a time when many
young people are involved in drug abuse and petty crime, authorities are
recognising the importance of supporting young people's sporting activities.
So Mr Humphery, where exactly are we supposed to ride our bicycles?
There's a great green space in north London called Sandy Heath - sorry
that's your backyard!
ROB COLE London Dirt Jumping Association


Pedestrians' protection an added advantage
Cycle track is no danger to kids
Camden New Journal Letters 26/7/01
The new cycle track planned for Guilford Street or Sidmouth Street is one of
the most important short-term Solutions to London's desperate transport
crisis.
Although cycling is not for everyone, there is an overwhelming case for
ensuring that people who do want to cycle can do so in reasonable safety,
which is the aim of this cycle track. Improving public transport will take
many years; perhaps decades in the case of the Tube. But cycling and walking
can be promoted very easily by providing the right facilities. Camden
Council deserves congratulations for being the first borough in London to
adopt a serious strategy for making cycling attractive to more people by
building high-quality, continuous routes with separation from fast-moving
motor traffic where appropriate. This type of track is commonly seen on the
continent and is much more effective than the painted lines loved by so many
local councils in Britain.
A short experimental cycle track on Royal College Street has proved to be an
immense success and has tripled the number of cyclists using that route.
Camden Council is currently building a much longer cycle track through the
Fitzrovia and Bloomsbury areas. Eventually it should be possible for the
track to form a circular route around Central London with links to
residential areas as other boroughs follow Camden's lead. It is the
eastwards section of this track that has attracted concerns from Frank
Dobson MP on behalf of Coram's Field playground.
Camden Cycling Campaign understands the concerns expressed and has outlined
a number of potential solutions to the problem of ensuring better safety on
pedestrian crossings outside the entrance to Coram's Fields. Mr Dobson's
main concern, as he expressed to us in our meeting with him last week, was
an outline design drawing from Camden's consultants which showed the
crossing without the present central pedestrian 'refuge'. We fully agree
with Mr Dobson that the refuge should remain.
Clearly it would be difficult to sustain a serious case that having a cycle
track next to the pavement is more dangerous than having motor vehicles
passing right by the pavement edge.
Far from being a threat to Coram's Fields and its users, the proposed cycle
track will bring major benefits to the children of the area and deserves the
support of the board of Coram's Fields.
PAUL GANNON Camden Cycling Campaign


There have been no crashes between cars and people
This headline clearly should have read 'There have been no crashes between
cyclists & pedestrians'
Camden New Journal Letters 26/7/01
I FOUND the piece by Catherine Etoe (MP slams 'dangerous' cycle plans, July
19) to be well balanced, representing both sides of the debate.
I would, however, like to clarity the last statement: "Eight cyclists and
seven pedestrians have been injured in Guilford Street in the last three
years". Of the seven pedestrian casualties, six were in collision with a
car, taxi or goods vehicle, and one was in collision
with a motorcycle. All eight pedal cycle casualties were the result of a
collision with a car, taxi or goods vehicle.
There are no reported accidents involving a collision between pedestrians
and pedal cyclists.
ALEX DJAN, Transport Engineering Team Manager Environment Department, Camden
Council


Hundreds of crimes take place on Heath
Ham & High 27th July 2001
A TOTAL of 331 crimes were reported on Hampstead Heath last year, according
to new figures compiled by the Corporation of London.
A further 589 bye-law offences were recorded by the Heath Constabulary
between April 2000 and March 2001. Four hundred and seven were cycling
offences.
Two cyclists were prosecuted for bye-law breaches and six were given written
warnings.
Figures reported to the Hampstead Heath Management Committee on Monday
showed that 50 of the 331 crimes reported to the Met police were for public
order offences.
Forty missing persons were reported, together with 35 vehicle crimes and 32
thefts.
Seventeen arrests were made - five for vehicle crime and four for robbery.
Two people were given formal warnings for sex acts and one person was warned
for breaching the peace.
Twenty-five members of the public reported injuries and emergency
helicopters landed on the Heath 10 times to take patients to the Royal Free
Hospital, in Pond Street.
Jenny Adams, Corporation director of open spaces, has asked for a review of
security and patrol arrangements to be carried out.
The management committee asked Corporation officers to compare the figures
with previous years and to provide more detailed statistics.