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New Forest 100 participants 'cause anguish to Forest stock' say critics in re-run of row from last year...

A sportive event in the New Forest has come under fire, with motorists and farmers complaining that cyclists are inconsiderate when riding in the area.

The New Forest 100, which was held two weeks ago, was the latest cycle event to anger locals. Last year we reported how an increase in the number of cyclists there is posing a danger to pedestrians and livestock, according to the chairman of a body representing the rights of Commoners in the New Forest.

Frances Baye, a motorist, told the Salisbury Journal that she had been held up by the New Forest 100. She said: “I was trying to overtake the cyclists as I was approaching Burley and it was virtually impossible.

“A group of cyclists refused to get into single file and continued to overtake each other, despite knowing there was a queue of traffic behind them.

“I am not against these cyclists enjoying the fresh air and getting fit but think consideration has to be the priority.”

A resident, who asked not to be named, said: “Despite these types of events not being classed as a race, the competitors are consistently in a hurry to pass other competitors at speed and in large packs.

“They can cause anguish to Forest stock and other cyclists, including children, who are not involved in the race, as well as cars and other vehicles.

“Last weekend was really the last straw with a ridiculous numbers of competitors.

“There were as many as four cyclists abreast on each side of the road; they were nearly crashing into each other at speed, going downhill, never mind the traffic trying to go up and down the road.

On the cycling section of its website, the New Forest National Park Authority says “You are welcome to cycle on public roads, byways open to all traffic, public bridleways, restricted bridleways, and dedicated cycle routes. You are not permitted to ride over the Open Forest, or on Forestry Commission tracks which are not dedicated cycle routes. Cycling on public footpaths is also not permitted.”

The National Park’s boundaries roughly correspond to the area of heathland and woodland within which some 500 commoners are entitled to graze livestock including cattle, donkeys, pigs, sheep and, most famously, ponies.

Last year, Dr Graham Ferris, Dr Graham Ferris, chairman of the New Forest Commoners’ Defence Association (NFCDA), established in 1909 “in response to the increasing conflict between the spreading urban populations around the New Forest’s fringes and the commoners’ animals,” said that the number of cyclists riding in the New Forest nowadays meant that “The roads are effectively obstructed and confrontations leading to a breach of the peace are likely.”

Concern for livestock was cited then and now as reasons to keep cyclists in line during mass events.

But data compiled by the New Forest National Park Authority clearly demonstrate that it is motorists, not cyclists, who pose by far the the greater risk to livestock in the Forest.

During 2009, 24 foals and 41 mares were either killed outright or had to be put down following collisions with motor vehicles in the New Forest. There were no reported occurrences of animals being killed in incidents involving cyclists.

Director of UK Cycling Events, organisers of the New Forest 100, Martin Barden said: “Some 1,300 people took part in the New Forest 100, many of whom travelled from all over the country to take part, to experience the beautiful national park and assist the local economy in these difficult times.

“There are one or two people who live in the New Forest who believe they own the New Forest roads.

“The roads are public highways and cyclists have every right to cycle along them and get fit and enjoy the New Forest.

“The event on Sunday was a non-competitive event, with riders’ start times spread out from 7.30am to 10.15am.

“As per our terms and conditions, anyone who is deemed to be racing would be disqualified.

“We ask cyclists to ride considerately and in single file where possible, although riders are legally allowed to ride two abreast.”

As well as the New Forest 100, UK Cycling Events runs the Wiggle New Forest Spring Sunday Sportive, and it is also home to the New Forest Rattler and a recent ride out with the Garmin pro team.

After an unpromising start, having to be bribed by her parents to learn to ride without stabilisers, Sarah became rather keener on cycling in her university years, and was eventually persuaded to upgrade to proper road cycling by the prospect of a shiny red Italian bike, which she promptly destroyed by trapping a pair of knickers in the rear derailleur. Sarah writes about about cycling every weekend on road.cc.

156 comments

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pwake [395 posts] 4 years ago
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"New Forest Commoners’ Defence Association"
Commoners?
The last time I visited Lyndhurst the only car dealership in the village was Ferrari/Maserati; you can't get much livestock in the back of them!! Could pull a trailer but I'm not sure whether Ferrari offer a tow hitch as an optional extra.  39

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JohnS [198 posts] 4 years ago
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I suggest an emergency bulk order of Highway Codes be despatched to Brockenhurst immediately.

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WolfieSmith [1329 posts] 4 years ago
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The problem with The Highway Code is that riding two abreast is permissible 'on quiet roads'. Last updated in 1950 when such a thing as a 'quiet road' existed in the UK.

As a club we protect our right to ride alongside each other - and also single out for drivers as quickly as we can. It seems to work with most motorists apart from the 5% morons. They won't be happy until they get the road to themselves - but you can't please everyone!

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Chuffy [201 posts] 4 years ago
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Hmmmmm. We were in the Forest on the Gridiron (basically a 100k audax) last weekend. The livestock are completely relaxed about traffic of all kinds, including cyclists. Anyone who says otherwise is lying to try and make a cheap point. Presumably Dr Ferris and his ilk are equally frustrated with the animals, which have absolute right of way and aren't afraid to exercise it?

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Chuffy [201 posts] 4 years ago
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If the poor driving we saw (and one very naughty man will be getting a visit from Plod after being reported by a whole load of people, including a medic attending a crash) was because there were events on successive weekends perhaps these selfish tossers should consider and handing in their car keys and taking anger management classes before someone is killed?

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crazy-legs [811 posts] 4 years ago
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New Forest events always result in complaints from NIMBYs. They're never valid either, there's a 20mph speed limit in the Forest (frequently flouted by drivers) so how on earth you can get too severely held up behind cyclists is beyond me.

The residents have this massive superiority complex about them being "commoners" (ironic that, being all uppity about being a common person); they have a parish council system that dates back to feudal times and they get very precious about some of the laws (about right to graze livestock in particular). Anything that threatens their peaceful idyll, there'll be letters in the local paper from Angry of New Forest.

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mattsccm [341 posts] 4 years ago
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The organiser is an idiot.Of course local residents of a rural area have more right to be there than a huge, totally unsuitable, profit making event. It's not totally the riders fault. there will be little choice but to ride in bunchs as when you stick huge numbers of anything into a space not made for it there has to be overflow. I am not condemming riding two abreast. I was doing that this morning and on an open road see no issue but on a narrow country lane we singled out to prevent the cars following us at 10/15 mph for 5 miles. Its cvalled consideration!
Big sportives are selfish. Riders often ride like complete morons, overtaking across the line just because the bunch is a touch too slow. Your own pleasure comes after that of other!. Quite possibly some residents over react or fail to be considerate as there are idiots in every walk of life but the attitude of some,not all sportive riders leaves much to be desired. From a non cycling point of view these events can just show how selfish the sport can be.
As usual of course some dimwit has to turn this into some so called political issue, see above. nowt but jealousy.
Its about idiots who can't respect the country side.

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BBB [431 posts] 4 years ago
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60-70 animals a year get killed (and more injured) by DRIVERS every year in the New Forest yet some IDIOTS are more concerned about the imaginary dangers that cyclists pose to the livestock.

It's not the secret that the NF clique is more into horse riding and golf than dirty and sweaty sports for plebs like cycling.

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Rob Simmonds [251 posts] 4 years ago
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I live near Dartmoor. Very similar to the Forest, if rather lumpier. Narrow roads, livestock, locals and tourists. Big rides, like the Dartmoor Classic, don't seem to attract half the grief that the New Forest rides get.Perhaps because there isn't the same cadre of self-important moneyed tossers who think they own the place?

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pj [147 posts] 4 years ago
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maybe, underneath all this, there's an issue lurking.

the glut of sportives and the potential consequences of weekend after weekend of endless slow-moving pelotons on (often unsuitable) roads up and down the country will cause problems with the wider public who share the road and on people's perceptions of cyclists, especially if participants continue to treat them as a race.

It will also have an increasingly negative effect on the road racing calendar: each race requires licensing from the local constabulary, sportives don't.

whilst there clearly are benefits to the explosion in sportives - health/fitness/cycling industry - the idea that sportives are some kind of grass roots event is at best, disingenuous.

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nbrus [297 posts] 4 years ago
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As both a cyclist and a driver I am often irritated by cyclists who feel it their right to prevent faster moving traffic from overtaking. Club riders especially cycle in packs and it is virtually impossible to overtake them, as often the pack stretches for 50 or more yards making it very dangerous to overtake as you will be on the wrong side of the road for too long a period without possibility to pull in should oncoming traffic appear. When other traffic approaches, cyclists should move into single file formation, and separate into smaller groups rather than riding in one large pack. Pack riding is only suitable for organised events where there is little to no other traffic present, and in such cases cyclists should still move into single file formation when traffic appears. Cyclists would be just as frustrated if they were stuck behind a pack of trail walkers moving much slower that they are and without any gaps for them to move through. All road users need to be considerate to each other.  1

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crazy-legs [811 posts] 4 years ago
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mattsccm: I can see your point and I agree - some of the riding you see at some Sportives is incredibly selfish/careless/dangerous. But the fact remains that, as Rob Simmonds says, nowhere has the same level of complaints as the New Forest and it's not me making it political. The locals do that by themselves, have a read of the local paper online to see what I mean.

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Paul J [908 posts] 4 years ago
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I've done a few sportives, but become a bit sceptical of them. I realised I enjoy myself just as much if I cycle with a local meetup or club, or even on my own. So why the hell am I paying £30+ to ride in a sportive? Worse, the large swarms of riders lead to increased risk.

Stopped doing them. Don't see the point.

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STATO [514 posts] 4 years ago
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nbrus wrote:

As both a cyclist and a driver I am often irritated by cyclists who feel it their right to prevent faster moving traffic from overtaking. Club riders especially cycle in packs and it is virtually impossible to overtake them, as often the pack stretches for 50 or more yards making it very dangerous to overtake as you will be on the wrong side of the road for too long a period without possibility to pull in should oncoming traffic appear. When other traffic approaches, cyclists should move into single file formation, and separate into smaller groups rather than riding in one large pack. Pack riding is only suitable for organised events where there is little to no other traffic present, and in such cases cyclists should still move into single file formation when traffic appears. Cyclists would be just as frustrated if they were stuck behind a pack of trail walkers moving much slower that they are and without any gaps for them to move through. All road users need to be considerate to each other.  1

Thats tantamount to a ban on group riding!? There are very very few roads in this country where you wont get a car coming up behind you at least once every 5 minutes, by the time youve singled out, split up with a 20-30m gap youd have to do it all again. Sure if its a particularly long narrow road but most groups are going at least 15mph which means you reach a passing point eventually, to many car drivers think they NEED to be past, what they NEED to do is show some... er... consideration? (many do... they wait).

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Mountainboy [97 posts] 4 years ago
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Why do people get so excited by cyclists 'nearly crashing in to each other' or cyclists nearly hitting them?

Like most people here I enjoy nearly being hit by motorists every day, it's called commuting.

I rue the day it isn't only nearly.

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OldRidgeback [2662 posts] 4 years ago
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STATO wrote:
nbrus wrote:

As both a cyclist and a driver I am often irritated by cyclists who feel it their right to prevent faster moving traffic from overtaking. Club riders especially cycle in packs and it is virtually impossible to overtake them, as often the pack stretches for 50 or more yards making it very dangerous to overtake as you will be on the wrong side of the road for too long a period without possibility to pull in should oncoming traffic appear. When other traffic approaches, cyclists should move into single file formation, and separate into smaller groups rather than riding in one large pack. Pack riding is only suitable for organised events where there is little to no other traffic present, and in such cases cyclists should still move into single file formation when traffic appears. Cyclists would be just as frustrated if they were stuck behind a pack of trail walkers moving much slower that they are and without any gaps for them to move through. All road users need to be considerate to each other.  1

Thats tantamount to a ban on group riding!? There are very very few roads in this country where you wont get a car coming up behind you at least once every 5 minutes, by the time youve singled out, split up with a 20-30m gap youd have to do it all again. Sure if its a particularly long narrow road but most groups are going at least 15mph which means you reach a passing point eventually, to many car drivers think they NEED to be past, what they NEED to do is show some... er... consideration? (many do... they wait).

Group riding's fine, but riders do have to be considerate about other road users. I did post not so long ago about the group of four riders riding two abreast and holding up a long line of traffic along the secton of the A303 where it is narrow at Stonehenge. I thought the riding inconsiderate, and I say that as a cyclist who was going the other way (in a car but with bikes in the back having been racing with my son) and who wasn't held up. I'm all for cycling and cyclist's rights, but it's a two way thing.

And just don't get me started on those dimwits who jump red lights and then try and justify it.

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SteppenHerring [330 posts] 4 years ago
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I can kind of see both sides of this. Sportives can show terrible discipline and there are so many of them now. If organisers (and riders) aren't careful then yes, the powers that be will step in and regulate (if nothing else by forcing organisers to pay for the cleanup of gel wrappers tossed by, well, tossers).

The "single file" thing can be very misleading. Highway code rule 163 implies that bikes should be given as much room "as a small car". If the road is 2 cars wide then it should make no difference to a following driver if riders are 1 or two abreast. In fact 2 is better - in our club we try to limit groups to 12 riders. A bunch 6 riders long is clearly easier to overtake safely than a bunch that's 12 riders long. Saying that, if the road with is 1.5 cars then we single out. If the road width is 2.5 cars and it's a busy road then we single out. We don't have to but we do. There are plenty of situations though where to single out would be to encourage a driver to do something dangerous.

I would hope that we wouldn't ride along the A303 by Stonehenge at all. But let's face it most of the holdups there (and everywhere else) are not caused by cyclists.

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ragtag [218 posts] 4 years ago
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Despite driving not being a race, car drivers are constantly seem in a hurry and attempt to overtake each other at every opportunity. Look at yourself driver.

On sportives - don't bother myself, done one, but can see how they encourage people to ride - something to aim for. If the explosion of them is going to negatively impact the perception of cyclists on the public at large then there could be a good and selfish reason to at least limit the numbers and frequency in some areas.

Near me in the Surrey hills there seems to be one a month - always handy to get a new photo on box hill for free.

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petejuk [23 posts] 4 years ago
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I rode the event last weekend so have first hand experience of what it was like. Firstly, it wasn't a sportive, but an audax. Secondly, it was very well attended with a range of start times to suit everyone. This enabled groups to be split and provided adequate gaps between them. Thirdly, there were all different types of riders ranging from fast experienced road riders, experienced tourers, less experienced riders, mountain bikers recumbent riders to those who had brushed the dust off their steed after not having ridden it since last year.
On the whole, the standard of riding was fairly high- I'd seen far worse on some club runs I have been on in the past and there were plenty of people making the effort to let cars get past. The standard of driving too was fair in the majority. However, there were some drivers who seemed hell bent on driving as close as they possibly could and some were yelling abuse. I dare say they would have done this whether there was 1 or 100 cyclists on the road.
I think the main issue is the British driver is not used to dealing with slow moving traffic and doesn't know how to overtake safely. This is not helped by some cyclists who stubbornly stick to riding two abreast. For the most part of this event, though, it was few and far between.

A fuss over nothing.

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crazy-legs [811 posts] 4 years ago
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Quote:

Firstly, it wasn't a sportive, but an audax.

Pedantry for the sake of it. The people complaining don't know the difference between a club run, an audax, a sportive or a race nor do they care. They're all "a bunch of bloody cyclists". As such, they will complain.

There's a strange shift at the moment in public perception of cycling. If it involves Bradley or Cav then it's fine, everyone's happy (witness the huge crowds at this years ToB) but as soon as it's a local club event or a Sportive, they'll be moaning about "lycra-clad loons" who "nearly" knock them down.  7

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Sudor [188 posts] 4 years ago
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I think even more riders should participate next year.

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musicalmarc [104 posts] 4 years ago
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Traffic in the new forest has been an issue for years, I visited regularly in the 90s. You can't get through any of the towns without getting stuck on a weekend and you will often get caught behind tractors or HGVs crawling along narrow roads. Cycling events may exacerbate the issue but they are not the cause. A far bigger problem is motorists speeding.

Whilst I can imagine if you've spend millions on a house in the New Forest travelling around it can be frustrating, it's worth noting most of it is run by a government body funded from public taxation.

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spen [132 posts] 4 years ago
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mattsccm wrote:

The organiser is an idiot.Of course local residents of a rural area have more right to be there than a huge, totally unsuitable, profit making event.

If the event was on the PUBLIC highway then the participants have exactly the same RIGHT to use the highway as people who live locally. Highways maintained at public expense are open to everyone, no one has a greater right over their use that anyone else. The law has provisions for use of the highways for sportng events. Do you believe that people with non local number plates should be banned from using the roads through the Forest? If we were to accept your statement then it would be easy to say that drivers have more rights to use the roads than cyclist, and where would that end?

As for the commoners, these are people who, despite the usual use of the word, have a right to graze livestock through land ownership or occasionally ownership of a certain property. Far from being the common people they are a privileged class more likely to be a retired colonel or stock broker than the local mechanic

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fatbeggaronabike [839 posts] 4 years ago
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Having just done the Gridiron Audax last Sunday and thoroughly enjoying myself (thank you to all the people involved in the organising and running of this wonderful event) I personnaly can't say that I saw any cyclists more than two abreast even the pairs singled out on small lanes, what I did encounter was a group of ramblers spread all across the road/lane who took their own sweet time about moving to the side of the road to let a ROAD USER through (two went to the opposite kerb to the rest of the group making the gap between narrower than it needed to be and then tutted as I went past) I used my horn, then bell, then my voice to warn them of my approach (nice gentle words only). I had an unpleasent incident with a silver pick up truck coming towards me and bullying his way past rather than put his near side wheel on the grass verge, and then I came across the accident that Chuffy commented on but was not aware of the commotion caused by the little twerp throwing his toys out of his pram! until I got to the village hall/tea & cake stop later (he threatened a cyclist, then told the ambulance driver to move his vehicle then threatened the ambulance driver when he didn't get his way used his van as a weapon nearly hitting a group of cyclists by all accounts deliberatly when turning round before speeding off) These are the people we need to REMOVE from OUR roads then everybody can use the roads properly and sensibly

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Simon E [2855 posts] 4 years ago
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CTC Gridiron 100km audax - http://www.wessexctc.org/grdetail.htm

The comments in the article reflect some drivers' views that, as I was told by a dipshit van driver the other day, "you don't belong on the roads". It is a reflection of the impatience and selfishness that is a widespread malaise nowadays, not only to when people are behind the wheel.

It would be much better, and thousands of deaths and injuries would be prevented each year, if everyone on the roads followed the rules. They're not even that onerous. And whoever said you can only ride two abreast on narrow lanes is incorrect.

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OldRidgeback [2662 posts] 4 years ago
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SteppenHerring wrote:

I can kind of see both sides of this. Sportives can show terrible discipline and there are so many of them now. If organisers (and riders) aren't careful then yes, the powers that be will step in and regulate (if nothing else by forcing organisers to pay for the cleanup of gel wrappers tossed by, well, tossers).

The "single file" thing can be very misleading. Highway code rule 163 implies that bikes should be given as much room "as a small car". If the road is 2 cars wide then it should make no difference to a following driver if riders are 1 or two abreast. In fact 2 is better - in our club we try to limit groups to 12 riders. A bunch 6 riders long is clearly easier to overtake safely than a bunch that's 12 riders long. Saying that, if the road with is 1.5 cars then we single out. If the road width is 2.5 cars and it's a busy road then we single out. We don't have to but we do. There are plenty of situations though where to single out would be to encourage a driver to do something dangerous.

I would hope that we wouldn't ride along the A303 by Stonehenge at all. But let's face it most of the holdups there (and everywhere else) are not caused by cyclists.

The cyclists I saw were riding up a hill and had made the congestion worse. They could've ridden single file but didn't, so overtaking cars had to wait for gaps in oncoming traffic. The lane was wide enough though for overtakes had the cyclists ridden single file. It is a bad area for congestion and they were making it worse.

Some drivers can be very aggressive and impatient though. I've noticed when in my car and on my motorbike. Some drivers will tailgate because they want past, even though the road is congested and there is no opportunity for an overtake and no reason to make one anyway as there are so many vehicles on the road.

If you drive at the speed limit, some people want to go faster and don't seem to appreciate that tailgating won't cause the driver in front to accelerate. The latest generation of speed cameras can detect when vehicles are driving too close to each other. I have to say, replacing the more basic speed cameras with these more sophisticated units would help detect more instances of bad driving.

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crazy-legs [811 posts] 4 years ago
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Quote:

The cyclists I saw were riding up a hill and had made the congestion worse. They could've ridden single file but didn't

Note that I'm not defending the actions of the cyclists, but one explanation: cycling uphill exacerbates even tiny differences in speed between riders. A group doing 18mph in neat double lines arrives at a climb and drops to 10mph (for example). But the rider at the back can't do 10, maybe he wants to do 11 or 12 (and before anyone says "well he should bloody slow down", consider that he might be on much higher gearing or a fixie). And the rider in the middle can't do 10mph, he's actually doing 8mph. So the group fragments, people pull out round each other, give other riders more space and end up blocking the road for a short time. They'll reform their neat 2-up lines when they're back on the flat but basically the issue is not really any different to being stuck behind a tractor, or some horseriders. Yet for some reason it's OK to bully cyclists...  2

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JohnS [198 posts] 4 years ago
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Tell you what, lets have motor vehicles banned from the New Forest at weekends.

Sorted.

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Maxjunk [4 posts] 4 years ago
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An interesting article in the new Cyclist magazine about the Tour of Britain technical manager Andy Hawes, who said the roads that are favourites of sunday club riders are not necessarily suitable for a stage of the tour of britain.

I think the same thing can apply here. It can be completely different when a road is taken over by 1000+ cyclists, who are ultimately racing (even though they shouldn't!)

I agree with the above there are idiots in very walk of life, idiot car drivers and idiot cyclists (I live in London and see plenty of both!)

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Forester [118 posts] 4 years ago
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I ride in the new Forest every day and the speed limit is either 30 or 40 mph; don't know any 20 mph limits. The animals can be very jumpy, especially with cyclists, and there are many horse riders whose competence varies and whose horses often spook at bikes. Riding in 'club peletons' is neither safe nor considerate in the Forest, and leaves those of us who defend cycling in the forest without a leg to stand on in the face of the orchestrated opposition of the commoners, who hate cyclists. I think the Wiggle rides will be banned for 2013 and they have only themselves to blame for promoting 'quiet 20mph roads' which don't exist.

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