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Coronavirus: Parkland Walk ‘too dangerous’ amid social distancing ‘tension’

PUBLISHED: 12:39 16 April 2020 | UPDATED: 13:15 20 April 2020

People on the Parkland Walk, where walkers, runners and cyclists come into close proximity. Picture: Archant

People on the Parkland Walk, where walkers, runners and cyclists come into close proximity. Picture: Archant

Archant

London’s longest nature reserve is becoming “too dangerous” with runners and cyclists flouting social distancing rules, says a conservation group chair.

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Parkland Walk, a 4km path running from Finsbury Park to Alexandra Palace, has become subject of “tension” between walkers and exercisers over maintaining the two-metre margin prescribed by government during coronavirus lockdown.

UK government guidelines say people who are not of the same household should keep two metres apart - whether they are cycling, running or walking.

Haringey Council says it has made public appeals and erected signs to reinforce the importance of social distancing, and will paint two-metre markers on the Parkland Walk.

Cathy Meeus, Friends of the Parkland Walk chair, said the path was too congested and many runners were prioritising personal gains above safety protocol.

The Parkland Walk cuts across Haringey and Islington. Picture: Polly HancockThe Parkland Walk cuts across Haringey and Islington. Picture: Polly Hancock

“Runners by nature tend to be concerned with their fitness targets and timing themselves and they don’t want to slow up for anyone,” she said. “So they will just barge too close to people and that makes it very alarming, particularly for older people.

“Many regular users of the Parkland Walk feel it’s too dangerous to go on now, so it’s becoming dominated by runners and cyclists which is very unfair on many users.”

Cathy said she is now walking with a stick which she holds out horizontally to keep people at bay.

“I’m sure it looks and sounds quite mad but I’d rather not get coronavirus,” she said.

Haringey Council says it will lay down two-metre markers on the path this week. Picture: Polly HancockHaringey Council says it will lay down two-metre markers on the path this week. Picture: Polly Hancock

Cathy, who stressed her views did not reflect all of those inside the Friends of the Parkland Walk, welcomed people enjoying the path as respite to the lockdown.

But she called on Haringey Council to provide clearer messaging specific to runners.

Haringey staff have patrolled the path and signs have been put up at both entrances.

A spokesperson said: “People are entitled to run and cycle during the outbreak, in line with government guidance. We would urge residents to act responsibly and stay two metres apart.”

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