Published: 16 August, 2012
by ALICE HUTTON
A “ROGUE” cyclist spent a night in the cells for refusing to give police his name after they stopped him for using a no-cycle lane on Hampstead Heath.
The man re-ignited a 80-year-old controversy between pedestrians and pedal cyclists co-existing in the ancient park when he was pulled over by Heath officers on Bull Path, near Parliament Hill, last Thursday evening.
The biker, believed to be in his 40s, was asked to provide details for a formal warning for breaking Byelaw 13, a rule in place since 1933 which forbids using a bike, as well as other vehicles, in a sign-posted no-cycle zone.
After refusing to provide any personal information, the man, who was carrying no formal identification, was arrested and taken into custody at Kentish Town police station before being put on trial the next day at Highbury Corner Magistrates’ Court in Islington.
Although the case was dropped after the district judge said that a night in a police cell was sufficient punishment, cyclist and pedestrian campaigners have clashed, alternately branding the news “ridiculous” and “a good victory”.
Jean Dollimore, spokeswoman for Camden Cycling Campaign, said it was “extreme” to arrest a cyclist using an empty path when “there are not nearly enough cycle paths on the Heath”.
She added: “I imagine this man wasn’t trying to be a rogue cyclist, he just thought it was 8pm, no one was around, and it was safe to do so.
“There is no way to cycle all the way across the Heath on a network of paths without having to get off and walk some of the way, and that needs to change.”
However, Maureen Clark-Darby, founder of campaign group Heath for Feet, praised the officers for taking it “very seriously”.
Mrs Clark-Darby, of South End Green, continued: “It is clear that the reason the police banged him up was not for cycling but for not giving his ID.
“But the fact that they are taking cycling on the wrong paths very seriously is a good victory as it is illegal.
“For us pedestrians I feel that it makes it safer for us if these laws are enforced.”
Richard Gentry, constabulary manager for the City of London Corporation which has run the Heath since 1989, said Bull Path, also known as Ball Path, was a non-cycle zone because it was narrow, and one of the busiest routes on and off the park as well as being close to William Ellis School.
He added: “There are very clear areas on the Heath where cycling is permitted and where it is not. Those who flout these rules endanger the safety of other Heath users and we will continue to take legal proceedings against them.”
Cyclist Eddison Joseph, 50, from Kentish Town, called for “common sense” after he was fined £330 by magistrates in March last year for riding on a no-cycle path on Hampstead Heath, as reported in the New Journal.