CYCLISTS have criticised measures to tackle motorbiking yobs in North Finchley as “an impediment to free cycling”.

A row of metal barriers has been installed by Barnet Council at the entrance to a cycle route through Glebelands Open Space after neighbours complained of mopeds and scrambler bikes being ridden at high speeds along the paths.

But the tight offset railing design has also made it difficult for cycle users with panniers or trailers to weave their way though.

A handful of protesters gathered at the cycle route entrance, in Legion Way, yesterday to prove how hard it is for wheelchairs, powertrikes and trailing bike chairs to get through.

Many cyclists have to dismount to negotiate the barriers while disabled users are forced to manoeuvre slowly through, and Gillian Goddard, from Barnet Cyclists, said: “If I try to ride through with my panniers on they end up getting caught.

“I like to use this route because it is safer than travelling down the A1000. But you do often get young people going down there which does make some people feel vulnerable if they know it is hard to get out through the barriers at the end.

“I understand there needs to be something to keep the motorcycles out, but there must be more cycle friendly deterrents.”

Woodhouse ward councillors, along with residents and police, said they “pressed” the council for some time to find a solution to prevent cars and motorbikes from entering the green space.

But in a joint statement from Labour Councillors Geof Cooke, Anne Hutton and Alan Schneiderman, they said: “We do not accept a crude solution that keeps out law-abiding users.”

Mike Gee, who is standing as a Residents Association of Barnet candidate in the council elections, said cyclists are a victims of the yob behaviour and other solutions need to be found.

“It is an impediment to free cycling,” he said.

“It is wrong to penalise free cyclists because of the yobs using motorbikes. We need to deal with the problem of why they are riding the motorbikes, not put up heavy handed barriers.

“Most of the yobs are from the area so they know other open spaces where they can get through. But if these barriers stop people getting through, they are just helping to create an abandoned space.”

Cllr Hutton said people living near the cycle route had concerns for a long time over the use of motorbikes, and added: “We are acting for local people, but if this is a cycle route for people from outside of the area, they should be able to use it.

“Just because they are not local does not mean they have not got legitimate concerns. We as ward councillors are happy to look at it again if there is a better solution.”