Home
*Well, some people in Surrey

 

They don't just dislike road cycling in Surrey. Objections to people having fun on bikes have kept a new mountain bike trail closed at Leith Hill while Surrey County Council waits for a formal complaint from local equestrians.

The British Horse Society said the track, which has been built on National Trust land, is too close to existing bridleways and the potential combination of horses and cyclists could be fatal.

Bob Milton, from the society, told the BBC that the path was illegal and that the authority had not carried out adequate consultation.

He said: “It has been constructed, it impedes access and it is on a common.”

He said there was clear guidance from the planning inspectorate that had not been followed.

Penny Tyson-Davies, BHS bridleways officer for Mole Valley, told Martha Terry of Horse and Hound that there had been no input rom equestrians into the building of the mountain bike trail.

“If they had consulted the BHS, they would have been told that a fast off-road cycle track alongside and crossing bridleways is out of order. Mountain bikes whizzing in and out of trees, jumping ramps above horses’ heads, around an established sunken horse track, is an accident waiting to happen.”

In a statement, Surrey County Council said it was waiting for Mr Milton to confirm whether he wanted it to investigate his complaint.

It added: “Should he decide to take the matter to the planning inspectorate we will co-operate fully with any inquiry.

“In the meantime we have made a request to the landowners for the trail to remain closed for the duration of any investigation.”

Julie Rand, from the national cycling charity CTC, said: “There are bridleways and tracks all over Surrey that are quite happily co-existing at the moment without too much anguish and they respect each other.

“People are anticipating problems that may not actually arise.”

Sam Bayley, National Trust head ranger, told Horse and Hound that dedicated tracks for mountain bikers will improve safety, because cyclists have been “creating unauthorised trails at Leith Hill following and crossing many bridleways”.

“We aim to balance the needs of everyone,” he said. “The design will ensure cyclists naturally slow down at crossing points by appropriate turns and signage.”

Rob Fairbanks, of the Surrey Hills Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty Board said: “It is not feasible to ban biking in one of the most popular areas in England. We want to work with the BHS to educate cyclists about the priority that needs to be given to horse riders, so we can all share the Surrey Hills.”

Our official grumpy Northerner, John has been riding bikes for over 30 years since discovering as an uncoordinated teen that a sport could be fun if it didn't require you to catch a ball or get in the way of a hulking prop forward.

Road touring was followed by mountain biking and a career racing in the mud that was as brief as it was unsuccessful.

Somewhere along the line came the discovery that he could string a few words together, followed by the even more remarkable discovery that people were mug enough to pay for this rather than expecting him to do an honest day's work. He's pretty certain he's worked for even more bike publications than Mat Brett.

The inevitable 30-something MAMIL transition saw him shift to skinny tyres and these days he lives in Cambridge where the lack of hills is more than made up for by the headwinds.

46 comments

Avatar
surly_by_name [356 posts] 2 years ago
0 likes

I am always amazed by the respect that a posh person mounted on a large quadruped commands. You watch cars tiptoe around them, drivers basically tugging their forelocks. Then driving past cyclist at twice the speed limit, complaining about being held up and seeing how close they can get without scratching their vehicle. Not having been born here, I can only attribute this to some kind of unconscious class inferiority complex. It really beggars belief.

Avatar
arfa [738 posts] 2 years ago
0 likes

This entire story is utterly bizarre when you consider that the nextdoor forests of the Hurtwood estate have horses, walkers and mountain bikers all happily rubbing along with each other on the same land. The difference ? The Hurtwood estate is privately owned and has been opened up to public access and access rights determined by the land owners without the need for expensive "consultations".
I find the arguments of the equestrian lobby somewhat self centred and disingenuous as a result.
I have found the vast majority of all types of users to be civil and considerate in their usage of hurtwood as it is generally understood to be a privilege to have access to this land. The problem with Leith hill appears to be a false sense of "entitlement" to exclusive use of public land.

Avatar
Paul_C [443 posts] 2 years ago
0 likes

surely a planning order was drawn up and the relevant "Public Notices" published both on the land itself and in the press. The horseriders have only themselves to blame for not spotting them. There's no legal requirement to personally drop a copy off with every tom, dick and harry unless someone who lives there is directly affected

Avatar
geargrinderbeard [94 posts] 2 years ago
0 likes

"jumping ramps above horses’ heads"

Sweet air though. At least the mtbers (presumably) won't be shitting all over the trails for everyone else to trundle through..

Avatar
timnoyce [6 posts] 2 years ago
0 likes

I wonder what the number of users are for both activities on the land. I would have thought that the number of cyclists compared to horse riders would be many times more.

Avatar
RedfishUK [127 posts] 2 years ago
0 likes

What I can't understand is that the BHS etc object to a Mountain Bike Path "next" to a Bridleway...given that since 1968 it has been legal to cycle on a Bridleway, you would have thought they would have welcomed the segregation ???

If I was cynical I might think that the objectors were really more concerned with the Plebs from the city coming near their houses? Mind you that particular objection around cyclists has been around since Victorian times

Avatar
Initialised [304 posts] 2 years ago
0 likes

Yeah, let's close the MTB trail so the MTBers have to go "whizzing along" "an established sunken horse track" instead of having the horses and their riders kept well out of the way by having separate trails :roll:

Avatar
turboprannet [148 posts] 2 years ago
0 likes

I too cannot understand the deference and respect the equestrian lobby get. They are human beings who have chosen to ride a horse much as we are human beings who ride a bicycle. No more, no less.

Don't mess with money I suppose.

Avatar
Notsofast [109 posts] 2 years ago
0 likes
surly_by_name wrote:

I am always amazed by the respect that a posh person mounted on a large quadruped commands. You watch cars tiptoe around them, drivers basically tugging their forelocks. Then driving past cyclist at twice the speed limit, complaining about being held up and seeing how close they can get without scratching their vehicle. Not having been born here, I can only attribute this to some kind of unconscious class inferiority complex. It really beggars belief.

We cyclists are unlikely to get startled pull a wheelie and smash our front wheel through their windscreens, so they're not scared of us. (we're likely to call them names and 'wave at them' then back down rather sharpish when confronted...)

Avatar
pants [238 posts] 2 years ago
0 likes

I have nothing against horses, just the people on them.

Avatar
mike1727 [6 posts] 2 years ago
0 likes

It seems pretty suprising that the BHS were not aware of the development vua the Local Access Forum at which most new R.O.W developments are discussed and where, from my experience in Herts, a lot of communication between different user groups takes place. The BHS tends to be well represented in these groups and they are very effective at going through the arcane rituals of getting new bridleways made.

Early engagement certainly helps to inform both sides of things which affect other trail users.

Avatar
dafyddp [355 posts] 2 years ago
0 likes

Sounds like it would be very frustrating if someone organised a mass 'slow ride' along the bridleway one Sunday morning...  3

Avatar
Mr Agreeable [172 posts] 2 years ago
0 likes

There's a long history of naughty trail construction in the Surrey Hills, buffoons having mass-start mate's races on the bridleway up to Leith Hill Tower and other such outrages to common decency. But there's also a long record of mountain bikers being responsible, working with landowners and putting in lots of graft to keep everyone happy.

Seems like the horsey brigade are just picking on an easy target here. Hope the NT have the good sense to tell them to do one.

Avatar
jmaccelari [240 posts] 2 years ago
0 likes

I am very deferential around all animals - horses, dogs, cats, bunnies, whatever... I have to assume that I am more intelligent than them and it is up to me to ensure there is no collision.

So to me, the 'tip-toeing' around horses is because I know that I am responsible for not spooking the animal. I can't put that responsibility on the horse.

Avatar
Shep73 [211 posts] 2 years ago
0 likes
jmaccelari wrote:

I am very deferential around all animals - horses, dogs, cats, bunnies, whatever... I have to assume that I am more intelligent than them and it is up to me to ensure there is no collision.

So to me, the 'tip-toeing' around horses is because I know that I am responsible for not spooking the animal. I can't put that responsibility on the horse.

Have to agree, most horse riders I have come across have been polite and very grateful when we make the effort to slow down, that said I agree with the comment that it's a different matter when some are in the 4x4's towing a trailer and don't bother slowing down. Still I'm inclined to let it go as most of the horse riders I see are women and plenty are pleasing on eye.

The biggest issue around here is the dog walkers, they are far worse than the horse riders.

Avatar
nowasps [418 posts] 2 years ago
0 likes
dafyddp wrote:

Sounds like it would be very frustrating if someone organised a mass 'slow ride' along the bridleway one Sunday morning...  3

You could probably do that for weeks and never see a horse.

Avatar
Yorkshie Whippet [525 posts] 2 years ago
0 likes

Did you know that the horse is the most unfortunately animal in the world?
It's the only one that occasionally has two aresholes!

Avatar
nowasps [418 posts] 2 years ago
0 likes
jmaccelari wrote:

I am very deferential around all animals - horses, dogs, cats, bunnies, whatever... We have to assume that we are more intelligent than them and it is up to us to ensure there is no collision.

Big call, that.  4

Avatar
workhard [397 posts] 2 years ago
0 likes

Some Surrey Hills mtb-ers are the living embodiment of "nobbers". Some Surrey Hills equestrians are the living embodiment of "nobbers".

Most people from each group, and I know a couple of folk with a foot in both camps, are perfectly lovely, perfectly reasonable people.

One can only conclude that some people are "nobbers" regardless of their hobbies and will always seek to disadvantage others in order to protect their own interests.

Avatar
oozaveared [936 posts] 2 years ago
0 likes
Notsofast wrote:
surly_by_name wrote:

We cyclists are unlikely to get startled pull a wheelie and smash our front wheel through their windscreens, so they're not scared of us. (we're likely to call them names and 'wave at them' then back down rather sharpish when confronted...)

don't back down

“Never give in. Never give in. Never, never, never, never—in nothing, great or small, large or petty—never give in, except to convictions of honour and good sense. Never yield to force. Never yield to the apparently overwhelming might of the enemy.”
Winston Churchill

Or as my old dad a Para Sgt used to say. "Never start a fight you can't finish."

Avatar
MrGear [87 posts] 2 years ago
0 likes

I quite like horses... they are delicious.

Avatar
joemmo [1164 posts] 2 years ago
0 likes

Crumbs. When I used to inhabit and pedal in that part of the world there were no issues with road cycling, trundling up Box Hill, MTBing or horses that I encountered - although I did steer clear of Leith Hill on a weekend unless I needed cake from the tower cafe. Better riding to be had on Pitch Hill and Holmbury anyway.

But Surrey now sounds like the embodiment of overpopulated, over-entitled NIMBYist HELL. Good luck to you all.

EDIT: just looked at map of the area again and came over all nostalgic...

Avatar
lolol [192 posts] 2 years ago
0 likes

Its happened more than once on a club run, a car pulling a horse box with a driver spouting abuse about being held up, "%*?! bloody cyclists!" Beggars belief!

Avatar
don simon [756 posts] 2 years ago
0 likes
Quote:

Mountain bikes whizzing in and out of trees, jumping ramps above horses’ heads, around an established sunken horse track, is an accident waiting to happen.

I think I must be doing it wrong then...  17

Avatar
northstar [1108 posts] 2 years ago
0 likes
lolol wrote:

Its happened more than once on a club run, a car pulling a horse box with a driver spouting abuse about being held up, "%*?! bloody cyclists!" Beggars belief!

Are horse box "drivers" the new audi...

Avatar
Neil753 [447 posts] 2 years ago
0 likes

Maybe one solution might be a voluntary agreement, through which opposing interests restrict their activities to alternate weekends.

Nothing enforcible, of course, but any "understanding" could dramatically reduce the current conflict in popular areas.

Avatar
Al__S [1018 posts] 2 years ago
0 likes

If you speak to the more sensible horse riders, you'll get familiar tales of close passes, being honked at, yells to do with "road tax" etc. They do have issues with cyclists- after all, we do approach from behind almost silently- but generally the main issues they have on the road are the same that we have.

Obviously the horsey types kicking up a stink here are arses, but they're not all bad!

Avatar
700c [889 posts] 2 years ago
0 likes

Road CC trying to sensationalise a story of 'hate' between road user groups again? Well done.

Avatar
bikebot [1886 posts] 2 years ago
0 likes

It's been a few years since I rode around Leith Hill so perhaps things have changed, but I can't imagine why anyone would complain about mountain bikes when there were motorcross bikers inventing routes.

Avatar
Grubbythumb [61 posts] 2 years ago
0 likes
700c wrote:

Road CC trying to sensationalise a story of 'hate' between road user groups again? Well done.

And ably fuelled by many of the posts above.

As a car driving, 4 x 4 owning, horse trailer pulling, motorcycling, horse riding, cyclist, it is great to know that there is no 'them and us' attitude between road users, and that it is just a storm being whipped up by the press.

Pages