Both the original Heath campaign in 2002 and the newer one in 2007 suggested new links adjacent to the Heath.
In particular, we asked for a Path along the footway between Jack Straw’s Castle and Spaniards End.
Camden Council obtained TfL Greenway funding for 2007-8 to implement this path.
They produced a design and carried out a consultation in December 2007.
Apart from suggestions regarding a lay-by for crossing the road, we were very pleased with this design.
Unfortunately although they had always said they would support paths around the Heath, the Heath and Hampstead Society (represented by Jeremy Wright)interfered in such a way that the path would no longer be 2-way end to end.
Karl Baxter reported (at a meeting with Dave Stewart Jan 2008) on meeting with Jeremy Wright, Simon Lee and 2 members of Heath Consultative Committee. Main problem – JW wants to retain grass verge and fence even at two ends where the path is too narrow, causing path to be cut short at both ends. CCC rejected such a solution as useless. We also wrote this in our response to the consultation.
Unfortunately Camden Council ignored our response and have implemented the path with one-way sections at each end. Thus, westbound cyclist have to join the path about 40 metres west of Spaniards End (see photo on right) and leave it before the way on to the Heath cycleway C (see photo on left).
Danger due to badly designed kerb
August 2008, CCC report to Karl Baxter a problem with the kerb at the eastern end. The photo shows the granite setts at the edge of the road at the eastern end of the Spaniards cycle track. TWe told him: “there’s a good chance that some people may try to join the track at that point even if it is not intended. To ride up the step created by these setts at an angle would quite likely throw the rider. I think that the edge should be made smooth as it is by the pedestrian crossing”.
Post implementation audit by CCC points out danger at eastern end. Cyclists have had problems with kerb. Audit reported at meeting with Dave Stewart Minutes of meeting Dec 2008. JD to contact KB/ DS (tactfully) urging him to get the kerb altered. By this time, a cyclist had been injured and we wrote as follows:
- Last night I received an email from Mayer Hillman (who is copied here). He was thrown off his bike by the kerb when riding up it in the dark a few days ago. He is a very experienced and careful cyclist and if he suffered that way, I think others will do so as well. When I contacted you in August I already knew of one cyclist who had suffered that way (before the path was constructed).
- Please would you arrange to have the kerb modified so as to be safe for those cyclists who do ride up that way. It’s not possible to get in a position to turn at a right angle when motor vehicles are following close behind. It is also unlikely that cyclists will wait to get on the track at the place you designed – some may not even realise that the track becomes one way at the ends.
- It is unfortunate for you that Camden Council allowed the Heath and Hampstead Society to ruin the design by refusing to allow the track to be located on the grassy verge at the two ends. But having reached that stage, it is essential to make the track safe for the way that people use it.
Response from Karl Baxter 9 Jan 2009.
- As you are aware, the idea of constructing a cycle lane along Spaniards Road was a contentious issue. Spaniards Road, going through Hampstead Heath, has a rural quality that is very important to many people. Camden designed the cycle path to cater for cyclists in a safe manner while keeping the rural aspect of Spaniards Road intact as far as possible.
- The cycle lane has been designed to address safe access on to and off of the facility. It has not been designed to allow cyclists to enter the cycle lane at the the zebra crossing nearest the Spaniards Inn. The entrance on to the cycle lane for south bound cyclists is 125m further down the road. Markings have been laid to indicate where cyclists should enter the cycle lane and provisions made with a smooth entry, without a gap between the carriageway and the cycle lane at that point.
- Due to the narrow width of the existing pavement, it was not possible to accomodate a cycle lane in both directions between the south bound entrance to the cycle lane and the zebra crossing nearest the Spaniards Inn. Therefore the cycle lane was made north bound only between those points. The cycle lane has been clearly marked to show that this section is north bound only. As such, if a cyclist chooses to travel down that section in the wrong direction they do so at their own risk.
- The Council’s reluctance to remove the gap between the pavement and the carriageway at the northern end of the cycle lane is twofold;
Firstly, removing that gap would encourage southbound cyclists to enter the cycle lane at the northern end and use the northbound cycle lane or the footpath. There is insufficient width for southbound cyclists to do this without potential conflict with northbound cyclists or, more importantly, pedestrians;
- Secondly, removing the gap would encourage northbound cyclists to come off the cycle lane and enter into oncoming traffic on the carriageway without dismounting. By leaving a gap between the pavement and the footway, northbound cyclists are encouraged to dismount and cross the road at the zebra crossing before continuing along the other side of the road. This was considered in consultaion with CCC and we acknowledge the issue was raised at this time.
- I agree that it would have been nice to have been able to construct a two way cycle lane for the entire length of Spaniards Road. However, for various reasons this wasn’t possible and now that it has been built, I think it much better that the cycle lane be used as it was designed to be used rather than to encourage cyclist to use the lane in an unsafe manner by removing the gap between the carriageway and footway at the northern end of the cycle lane.
Email from CCC to Dave Stewart 6 Jan 2009
- I am astonished by Karl’s reply to my email. I would have expected someone to go to site and fix the problem after someone had been injured.
- Karl knows that cyclists (and other road users) don’t always exhibit the exact behaviour described in the design drawings. Also, John and I distinctly remember a conversation with Karl where we said that cyclists would make this manoeuvre and he agreed.
- The point is that the
gap between the roadway and pavementis not only a step up but also is constructed of granite setts, which are very slippery at times.
- This is obviously a serious hazard to cyclists and Camden Council has now been warned more than once. If another cyclist is thrown off (which is highly likely to happen), they may be more seriously injured and Camden Council runs risk of litigation if they knowingly leave the hazard in place. It is no defence to say that cyclists shouldn’t make this manoeuvre and so if they are injured it is their own fault. There are many examples of situations where a pragmatic approach has to be taken to what people will be tempted to do, rather than what they are supposed to do. In law, there is the concept of an
attractive nuisance, i.e. something that people will do even though it is technically forbidden. The classic example is an unfenced swimming pool where there may be young children present.
- So, as I said to Karl in my previous email, it is essential that Camden Council makes the cycle track safe for the way that many people use it.
Email from CCC to Dave Stewart (copied to Sam Monck and others) 19 Jan 2009
- I wrote to you on 9th January (see below) about my worries concerning the Spaniards Cycle path, but have had no reply.
- At the time when we discussed the modification of the consultation design, in which there would be a short section of one-way path at each end, we all acknowledged that many cyclists would use the western end two-way because they would want to get off the road as soon as they are through the gap by the Spaniards Inn.
- I think that we should all accept the reality of the situation and make it safe for those cyclists that do try to turn off the road by the driveway with the granite setts. This isn’t encouraging them to do this, just accepting that they will do so. In addition, cyclists they are aware of the dangers of entering at the driveway are quite likely to use the zebra crossing.
- I am anxious to have a reply from you to pass on to Mayer Hillman who was hurt by being thrown off his bike when he mounted the granite step in the dark.
- I am copying Sam Monck and Julian Fulbrook this time because I plan to put the matter on the next WCRSAG agenda if the problem isn’t solved before the Feb meeting.
Reply from Dave Stewart 27th Jan 2009
- I have noted the comments you’ve raised and have again visited the site.
- I am not at all happy with this in view of the trail of discussions that led up to the design and implementation of this scheme. This clearly raises caution with future schemes of a similar nature, as to whether to proceed to implementation is the best decision. To just “accept they will do it” is not a sensible approach to good design and in fact seems dangerous. Safety is what is paramount
- You will appreciate the difficulty Engineers (designers) have with any scheme built on site as in the case of an incident the design, and more importantly what’s on site, is what will be given close scrutiny.
- In an endeavour to address this issue it is in my view not enough to just level the setts at the crossover but will necessitate additional measures (i.e. signs & possible markings) to ensure that we have adequately covered ourselves with sufficient information to users as what is the correct manner of use. If thereafter it is abused then the design cannot be criticised. I would stress that this must not be understood to be us setting a precedent but more addressing a safety issue already on site.
- Arrangement will be make for this to be addressed without undue delay.
I trust that the above is satisfactory
Meeting with Dave Stewart, 4th June 2009
CCC noted that the changes had still not been done. Dave Stewart said that this is supposed to be done as part of road surface improvements. The photo on the left was taken at the end of June after the road had been repaired. This was sent to Dave Stewart, but we have had no response.
Minutes of meeting
As far as we know, nothing has been done.