Children are being threatened with fines for riding bikes in part of a London park – despite the fact that kids have been cycling there for more than four decades, according to one cycling campaigner.
ParkGuard wardens contracted by Richmond Council have stopped children on their bikes on Sheen Common and told them they could be fined £60, reports LBC.
Diana Akiko Narducci, the mother of one boy who was stopped by a warden for riding on a path in the park said that her son was “really upset” by the incident and that he and his friends are scared to return there in case they are fined.
“The park patrol said we have had so many complaints from dog walkers but nothing counterbalancing from the other side,” she said. “We were saying how can a 10 or 12-year-old send an email to the council?"
She added that her son now spends his time “staying at home, playing on the PlayStation and watching TV.”
James Milnes was stopped by wardens last Saturday while cycling in the park with his 10-year-old daughter.
He said: “I actually thought they were police at the time. They basically put their hand up to stay stop and said you’re not permitted to ride your bike anywhere here, away from the main paths.
“I would be amazed if this area is not considered a main path,” he continued. “It has all the hallmarks of a path, it has logs laid down on either side.”
Mr Milnes added: “These kids have just gone back to school, a year of childhood on pause and even if there are a few walkers who don’t want bikes flying past then there should be a bit of ‘live and let live’.
“This doesn’t feel like the time to take away some of the simple fun.”
Richmond Cycling Campaign have asked the council to look into the matter, writing that officers “should not be actively discouraging children from having fun in a safe way”.
A Richmond Council Parks Service told the radio station that cyclists, including children, needed to keep to designated paths and that there had been an issue with some people creating trails.
“Responsible cycling on designated paths is not only allowed but is a great form of exercise, however there has been a recent issue with some users digging in the woodland area of Sheen Common to create off-road trails with ramps and dips,” the spokesperson said.
“This activity is damaging to this important habitat and presents a risk to other users and is therefore not permitted. Anyone causing damage to the common could be fined as a result.
“Parkguard patrol are responsible for making sure park users, including children, know that cycling is only allowed on designated paths and ensuring that the public are aware of any fines that could be enforced under the council’s PSPO.”
Tim Lennon, co-ordinator at Richmond Cycling Campaign, said that children had been cycling on the path, which has natural bumps, for more than 40 years.
“We are hoping it is just overzealous wardens because obviously the government supposedly wants us all to be more active,” he said.
“You can hardly ask kids to be more active if you take away areas where they are active can you?
“The kids are 12, what is the actual problem on this one?”
He added: “We know someone who is in his 50s who used this as a BMX pump track when he was 12, so it is a long established use of the area.”
Simon joined road.cc as news editor in 2009 and is now the site’s community editor, acting as a link between the team producing the content and our readers. A law and languages graduate, published translator and former retail analyst, he has reported on issues as diverse as cycling-related court cases, anti-doping investigations, the latest developments in the bike industry and the sport’s biggest races. Now back in London full-time after 15 years living in Oxford and Cambridge, he loves cycling along the Thames but misses having his former riding buddy, Elodie the miniature schnauzer, in the basket in front of him.