Rangers target off-track cyclists at beauty spot

Cyclists in the early stage of the 50/100 mile bike ride, tackling the hills on Mousehold Heath that

Archive photograph of people cycling correctly at Mousehold Heath, on permitted pathways - Credit: Steve Adams

Rangers have stepped up their patrols in a bid to curb off-track cycling through a Norwich beauty spot.

With its hills and dirt tracks, Mousehold Health has long been a popular spot for cycling, particularly BMXs and similar stunt bikes.

However, rangers in charge of the Norwich City Council-run site have increased their patrols after receiving complaints about riders failing to stick to specific cycle routes.

Mousehold Heath has been awarded its first Green Flag. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY

Mousehold Heath has been awarded its first Green Flag. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY - Credit: Copyright: Archant 2018

A report made to the Mousehold Heath Conservators committee, which meets next week, says complaints were largely made due to stunt cyclists attempting jumps near the public footpaths through the heath.

The report says: "A number of complaints have been received regarding cyclists jumping over the hard surface of the public cycle route/footpath at Valley Drive.

"Wardens have increased their presence and patrolled this area at peak times on weekends and evenings, advising cyclists of the risk to the public and that they should not be cycling on the heath."

Throughout the pandemic, the demand for the heath has grown exponentially, with the lockdown period seeing people growing increasingly reliant on outdoor spaces. 

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And along with this came an increase in the cycling activity taking place on the site, which saw wardens forced to dismantled jumps illegally constructed near Valley Drive and fill in holes made to create BMX courses.

A spokesman for Norwich City Council said: "We have received a small number of complaints concerning off-road cyclists putting themselves and others at risk by riding recklessly at Mousehold Heath.

“We are taking steps to deter cyclists from travelling at speed across public footpaths. The impact of off-road cycling to other visitors and the heath will be considered at a future meeting of the conservators.

“We would urge people to follow the byelaws of usage of the heath, and anyone found to be breaking these could be liable to prosecution.”

The 14th byelaw for the Mousehold Heath reads: "No person shall without reasonable excuse ride a cycle in the ground except in any part of the ground where there is right of way for cycles or on a designated route for cycling."

However, for many years mountain biking went unchallenged on the heath. But in 2008, several complaints were made about tyre marks causing damage to the natural characteristics of the heath, which led to an increased effort to prevent it.