Every morning, hundreds of children are ferried in cars to schools in Hampstead and Highgate.
I was one of these children myself once, cooped up, gazing at the Kenwood trees from the confines of my parents’ car.
When I was older, I decided to cycle to school instead, but the journey felt hazardous.
One day, a pothole in the road sent me flying and I was lucky no one was driving immediately behind me. Another day, a schoolfriend was devastated to have knocked a cyclist off his bike when she accidentally opened her car door.
Little has changed in terms of cycle safety since then.
Now a parent myself, I dodge cars on my bike along Hampstead Lane, any spare road space taken up with parked vehicles.
In fact, matters seem worse as controlled parking elsewhere has funnelled trucks and mobile homes onto this last stretch of free parking.
The result is that this key road, which links Hampstead and Highgate, now resembles more of a truck-stop, with food wagons, caravans and transit vans parked nose-to-tail on a semi-permanent basis.
Sadly, one of the teachers at my children’s local school died a couple of years ago as a result of cycling into an open car door.
Change has been so slow over decades. That’s why I decided to campaign for safe cycling in London, in the hope that things will change for the next generation.
It’s great to hear that Haringey Council is now aware of the congested parking situation in Hampstead Lane. It would be such a boost to have safe, separate cycling here at last.
The pollution and congestion at peak times of day are relentless. The benefits for the environment, as well as for the mental and physical health of children (and adults), would be enormous.
There is a fantastic protected cycle lane that leads up to Spaniard’s Inn at the Camden end. We then have the edges of Barnet and Haringey boroughs along the lane and there would need to be some level of coordination to make this happen.
This feels like a real tipping point for the future of this key road; it would take a brave parent to encourage their child to cycle there now.
So many local people are keen on this and have been happy to support the campaign. I hope the councils themselves will be bold enough to step into a brighter, more sustainable future.
How you can make a difference:
- Sign the Hampstead Lane Safe Cycling petition
- Contact your local Haringey Councillor and demand a continuous segregated cycle lane providing a safe and sustainable connection Hampstead and Highgate communities
Reprint of article that originally appeared in Ham&High