Opposition follows New Forest sportive to new location as organiser tries to reassure locals

Can April event escape repeat of previous sabotage attempts?

by John Stevenson   March 6, 2014  

New Forest Sportive 2

The organiser of a series of sportive rides that have met with vociferous opposition from New Forest residents has attempted to reassure local people that the next event has been organised to minimise inconvenience.

Residents and councillors have maintained a steady stream of protests against the Wiggle-sponsored sportives organised by UK Cycling Events. Attempts were made to sabotage both of last year's events. Signs were torn down, drawing pins and mud spread onroads and drovers deliberately blocked riders by driving slowly through the forest.

Opponents have claimed riders endanger horses and walkers, and swear at motorists. There has even been a police investigation into claims that riders have defecated on village greens.

The event base for the Wiggle New Forest Spring Sportive on April 12-13, has moved from Brockenhurst to Matchams Leisure Park, which is outside the New Forest National Park area.

But opposition to the event has followed it to the new location, with a Ringwood councillor complaining that it doesn't benefit his constituents, despite wide-ranging assurances from the organiser and National Park officer.

The Bournemouth Echo reports that at a meeting of Ringwood Town Council, UK Cycling Events director Martin Barden said that extra marshals would be provided to help prevent complaints about the event.

As previously announced, the number of entries to this year’s event has been reduced, and Mr Barden told councillors he expected about 1,800 riders to turn out for the ride.

He said that riders’ bib numbers would be more visible so that reports of poor behaviour could be more easily dealt with, and that UK Cycling Events would not publish individual finish times in a bid to reduce competiveness among cyclists.

Steve Avery, director of park services at the New Forest National Park Authority said that a cyclists’ code had been agreed and that a charter was due to be published by the end of the year.

Councillors said that riders would pass through one of the most built-up parts of Ringwood in the middle of the Easter holidays.

Councillor Neville Chard said he strongly objected to the event, claiming it was not in the interests of his constituents.

However, Mr Barden said cyclists were told to obey the Highway Code as well as observing the event’s terms and conditions.

In a previous interview, Martin Barden pointed out that his events bring substantial economic benefits to the area.

“The last event alone provided a financial benefit of £325,000  to the local economy,” he said. “We also wish to continue promoting cycling in the National Park which is in line with its aims of providing enjoyment for all.”

The danger from cyclists to livestock and wildlife is often cited by opponents of the rides but according to the New Forest National Park Authority there have been no incidents involving animals and cyclists since records began to be kept in 2008. The majority of animal accidents in the park are caused by drivers, and after many years of improving safety on New Forest roads, 2013 saw an increase in incidents.

Motor vehicles pose the biggest risk to animals in the area according to the New Forest Verderers too. A detailed breakdown of figures on the Verderers’ website shows that there were 64 deaths of livestock and 14 serious injuries as a result of road traffic collisions within the New Forest in 2012.

Some 51 ponies were killed, along with seven cattle and six donkeys, most of the incidents taking place at night. The figures do not include deer, which are not within the Verderers’ jurisidction.

Private cars are responsible for the vast majority of death of or serious injury to livestock in the New Forest, according to the Verderers’ figures

12 user comments

Oldest firstNewest firstBest rated

I am from the New Forest originally and my brother still lives in the Forest. I can assure you that the intimidation is all one way and comes from the sort of people that also complain that the Scouts walk in the Forest. They are vocal and wealthy and they are almost all newcomers not locals other than they spend the weekends in the Forest.

So, I know it's a sportive but get your head cams on. If you don't have one bring a small camera or your smart phone.

If you have the evidence then report any speeding, dangerous driving, abuse that you encounter. Ask politely for people's names that confront you. A refusal on camera of a polite request to identify yourself always looks bad for the refuser.

These people are using tactics developed by hunt saboteurs. Their intention is to provoke. Don't be provoked. Dont shout abuse back or make gestures. Just get your camera out and film them. They will seriously not like that.

It's a shame. Their intention is to make it less fun so sportives go somewhere else. But that's every bit as much your road as it is theirs. If they didn't want visitors they shouldn't have bought a second home in a National Park.

Cycling is like a church - many attend, but few understand.

posted by oozaveared [745 posts]
6th March 2014 - 15:41

72 Likes

I'm looking forward to doing this event with my brother. We have booked accommodation in the forest and will no-doubt be eating and drinking at local pubs for two nights.

I could have taken my business elsewhere and ridden another sportive, but why would I want to let the small-minded idiots win?

It's worth mentioning that this Sunday is a rugby game at Twickenham, which will cause traffic chaos near my house. I won't be out there throwing tacks on the road though. I know that these visitors are good for the local businesses that I rely on the rest of the week.

posted by MrGear [85 posts]
6th March 2014 - 17:46

33 Likes

Dont forget the toilet paper to clean up after you've coiled one out on the village green.

posted by lookmanohands [103 posts]
6th March 2014 - 18:05

30 Likes

"Scouts walk in the Forest." SHOCKING Surprise



I am stronger than Mensa, Miller and Mailer, I spat out Plath and Pinter.

bikeboy76's picture

posted by bikeboy76 [1434 posts]
6th March 2014 - 18:50

19 Likes

It's when you have politician's 'friends' following I would be concerned!

posted by freespirit1 [191 posts]
6th March 2014 - 19:46

16 Likes

On what planet does a cyclist pose a threat to a pony, cow, donkey or deer?

posted by massspike [120 posts]
6th March 2014 - 22:37

22 Likes

oozaveared wrote:
So, I know it's a sportive but get your head cams on. If you don't have one bring a small camera or your smart phone.
If you have the evidence then report any speeding, dangerous driving, abuse that you encounter. Ask politely for people's names that confront you. A refusal on camera of a polite request to identify yourself always looks bad for the refuser.
These people are using tactics developed by hunt saboteurs. Their intention is to provoke. Don't be provoked. Dont shout abuse back or make gestures. Just get your camera out and film them. They will seriously not like that.

Spot on advice.

posted by thereverent [322 posts]
7th March 2014 - 12:48

12 Likes

bikeboy76 wrote:
"Scouts walk in the Forest." SHOCKING Surprise

Do they complain about the bears sh1tt1ng in the woods as well!!!

Chadders x

chadders's picture

posted by chadders [75 posts]
7th March 2014 - 19:17

12 Likes

If the protestors are concerned about animals safety, what the hell are they thinking of by putting sharp tacks and pins on roads? Surely many animals could be injured by this.
To be honest it stinks of elitism, and gross selfishness. The countryside is for all to enjoy, not just a few spitefull locals.

posted by Surf57 [10 posts]
7th March 2014 - 21:53

7 Likes

"next event has been organised to minimise inconvenience."

Appease, Appease!

posted by northstar [1112 posts]
7th March 2014 - 22:00

5 Likes

Slightly off topic but I once drove with my mother in law round a time trial course that my other half was riding. We stopped in a lane opposite a few houses. One of which had a man washing his car who never took any notice of us. The mil and I were chatting whilst waiting for my OH to come by. The lady of the house came out I said 'morning' as you do, she then just looked at me and demanded to know why I was outside her house talking when I had all of the countryside to stop in! After a few words about safe parking and it being a free country I decided to bid a hasty retreat more for the TT organisers benefit than mine. I know the race has been there quite a long time and didn't want to make trouble for them. Some people think once they buy a property in the countryside they own the area!

Scarlettandem

scarlettandem's picture

posted by scarlettandem [36 posts]
7th March 2014 - 22:53

12 Likes

I wonder if there is a need to identify and brand cycle friendly businesses in the New Forest and use their collective voice to counter this nonsense?
It's not as if this is a closed road event, although I think that would be an excellent idea, might actually save a few ponies from car accidents for a day.
I was on the tack sabotaged Etape Caledonia in 2009 and it was just one small minded nutter causing trouble with the moaning Perthshire anti-wind farm brigade filling the letters pages in the background.
I spent most of my childhood mucking around on my Raleigh Bomber on the plains and enclosures of the New Forest, never a cross word from anyone, but cars were a problem for livestock as they are today. Seems some people there now don't get the idea of 'commons'.

posted by Ottadini [16 posts]
8th March 2014 - 21:16

4 Likes