The London Dirt Jumping Association (LDJ) is moving up a gear in its efforts to legitimise dirt jumping in the Sandy Heath area of Hampstead Heath, north-west London. The LDJ have now enlisted voluntary legal advice to challenge the Heath Authority's claims that cycling on the Heath other than on a very few designated pathways is illegal.
The LDJ claims that the Sandy Heath area of the heath is common land, given to the people of Hampstead "many years ago". According to LDJ cyclists have been using that area of the heath for twenty years, and that in recent years it has become common for jumpers to dig dirt jumps away from footpaths. They say that they do not use anything other than an official cycle path to access the area and do not cycle over the rest of the heath.
The LDJ complain that they are treated like thugs by the heath authorities who, they say, often destroy the jumps, chase jumpers away from Sandy Heath, and even place large obstacles in dangerous positions in a deliberate attempt to bring down riders.
A recent public consultation exercise reported here on BIKEmagic returned a majority in favour of increasing the number of cycle-designated routes in the park. (See here for the consultation results). However, the Heath and Hampstead Society, which charges itself with protecting the heath, is very much against the proposals. The society sees the heath as a walker's retreat from the city, and bicycles as unwelcome and dangerous intruders. Given that, you can imagine the likelihood of proposals for a dirt-jumping area being accepted by the society. The LDJ calls the Heath and Hampstead Society "a miserable bunch of old twigs hell-bent of maintaining their grip on what they see as 'their land'".
London Dirt Jumping has been running a petition in favour of establishing a legally recognised dirt-jumping area on sandy heath(email@example.com) which they say has been quite successful. But the non-profit organisation doubts that dirt jumping will ever be legally admitted to Sandy Heath, "We're up against Martin Humprey and the Heath & Hampstead Society -1,400 stuck up toffs who are upset that children and young people want to have fun riding bikes in the woods near their £2 million houses" said one member of LDJ, "A genuine case of Nimby's (not in my back yard)".