Stray golf balls and unexploded bombs....counter arguments to a proposed cycle lane
- By AmySummers_LCC on at 10:48am 17 August 2015
- Posted in: News and blogs, Take action, Merton, Kingston upon Thames
- Tagged with: Merton, Kingston, New Malden, mini holland, Raynes Park, Local Opposition
- Boroughs: Merton, Kingston upon Thames
Plans for a new traffic-free cycle route from New Malden to Raynes Park are under fire from local residents who are using some interesting counter-arguments to fight against the scheme: ‘illegal habitation’, ‘unexploded WW2 bombs’, terrorist attacks and ‘aberrant golf balls’, amongst others. Read on to find out more.
Kingston Council is planning to use some of its £30 million ‘mini-Holland’ funding, awarded in 2014, to create a new cycling and pedestrian link between New Malden and Raynes Park, using a strip of land (owned by Thames Water) that runs parallel to the railway line. The path will reconnect both neighbourhoods and will open up valuable green space for all ages to enjoy. You can see the route (the purple line) on this map.
The route would create safe space for cycling and walking, making local trips between New Malden and Raynes Park more accessible. It will improve the appearance of the area and create new publicly accessible space, as well as bring new visitors to the local high streets. The path will also link up with the Cycle Superhighway which starts at Colliers to improve long distance cycle journeys.
However, despite the obvious benefits that the cycle link could provide, some local residents, in a lengthy document outlining their concerns to the council - some legitimate, and some quite absurd - criticise the scheme and a local petition has been set up to call for the plans to be abandoned.
What’s the problem?
Concerns around the potential impact of the link on local wildlife and ecology and about privacy and the security of adjacent properties are being carefully considered by the council; with plans in place to address the issues. For example, it has been agreed that wherever possible the path will be located away from the boundary of neighbouring properties’ back gardens, leaving plenty of space for enhancing the landscape with defensive planting; one that creates a protective barrier between garden boundaries and the path. The project team is also working with environmental specialists in order to ensure the project enhances and protects local biodiversity. Read more on the concerns and how they are being addressed in Kingston Cycling Campaign's blog.
But resident’s opposition has gone one step further, making some interesting arguments to use as a rationale for abandoning the project......
- They suggest that the path would be a haven for ‘anti-social behaviour’ and threaten people’s safety. It’s claimed that ‘youths would roam the site with guns and shoot the birds’ which would be ‘undesirable for the birds’ and state that ‘public access to [the area] would greatly increase the risk of fire’. They also highlight the risk of cyclists and walkers ‘being struck by aberrant golf balls’ from the nearby golf course.
- The path would also be an ‘easy target for fly-tipping and litter’ it’s claimed, specifically ‘noxious chemicals, asbestos, needles, syringes and other hazardous clinical waste’.
- They worry about the nearby railway line which they fear would ‘raise serious security issues for Network Rail and users of the facility’. They worry about trespassers, thieves and ‘terrorists targeting the line or signal boxes’.
- Other ‘terrorist attacks from disaffected groups or individuals’ are also a concern, given the Thames Water pipes that are in the area.
- More security concerns are outlined, specifically that the cycle path would be used as an ‘escape corridor for criminals, which would result in an increased risk of burglary, assault and anti-social behaviour in the entire surrounding neighbourhoods of New Malden and Raynes Park’. A link between the added criminal activity that would result and local property insurance premiums has also been made.
- Another wild, and arguably racist, suggestion refers to ‘illegal habitation’, claiming that the cycle path would ‘increase the risk of illegal habitation by individuals sleeping rough, or by more organised groups’. There is also apparently a ‘new additional risk of settlement by illegal refugee groups [sic]’ too.
- The most tenuous by far, is the claim that the creation of the cycle path would unearth ‘unexploded WW2 ordnance’ given the strategic importance of the railway line during the war. It is argued that its ‘probable’ that unexploded bombs are laying nearby.
We believe that these fears are unfounded and the benefits to be gained from the construction of the route would far outweigh any of the suggested possible risks that are being put forward here. The cycle path will be a valuable asset to the local area and would reconnect both neighbourhoods, opening up valuable green space for all ages to enjoy.
The route would create safe space for cycling and walking, for people of all ages and abilities, making local trips between New Malden and Raynes Park far more accessible. It will improve the appearance of the area and create new publicly accessible space, as well as bring new visitors to the local high streets. What’s not to like?
Many other residents from wider surrounding areas are generally very supportive and enthusiastic about the scheme.
It would be a shame for a vocal minority to disrupt these exciting plans that would benefit so many people.
Artist impression of what New Malden station area could look like
Support the plans
Members of our Local Groups in Kingston and Merton have set up a counter-petition in support of the plans for the cycle route which we are urging people to sign. We must show the Royal Borough of Kingston that the majority of local people would like to see this safe route made a reality.
Want to do more?
Kingston Council are also inviting people to pledge their support and become a 'Go-Cycle' advocate; find our more here.