Organisers of Wiggle sportive criticised for not telling locals about event

Concerns come in same area as rider was forced to put her spooked and injured horse down

by Sarah Barth   August 24, 2013  

Women sportive riders.JPG

Residents in a village where a horse was put down after it was spooked by sportive riders have criticised organisers of a Wiggle-sponsored event which they say was not adequately advertised to local people.

Colin Streeter, from Down Street near Fletching in Sussex said that it was only after a local spotted an arrow sign and went to Google to find out what Wiggle was, that they discovered there would be another ride passing through the following day.

He told the Sussex Express: "The day involved some 400 cyclists taking to the lanes around Fletching. News of last week’s “Wiggle’ event was revealed to the local riding community by chance the day before when a resident came across arrows suggesting some kind of forthcoming activity and Googled Wiggle.

“They learnt the cycle event was the next day and an organiser said any passer-by could call a number appearing on the arrow signs. Two lines of text were on the signs but no more than three millimetres high, showing a mobile number but no indication of when the event was to take place, or timing.”

UK Cycling Events, who run a series of sportives on behalf of Wiggle, however said that they went to some lengths to make local people aware of the event.

A spokesman said: "The Police, County Council and Highways were all informed that this event was to take place in March of this year. A comprehensive event plan with route information is sent 6 months before an event to the local authorities and then re-issued one month before an event. This is something that is done as best practice and is not required as part of the current legislation of running a non-competitive event, such as a sportive”.

"There were no incidents on the Wiggle Haywards Heath Howler. A comprehensive briefing to all riders was given on the day on how to ride respectfully, when approaching horses, and this video was sent to all riders to watch prior to the event."

Last month we reported how a woman whose horse had to be put down after it was frightened by a group of sportive riders in Sussex said that cyclists had no respect for other vulnerable road users.

Jo Flew and her daughter Joanna were out for a horseback ride on June 23 when they happened upon the route of the Etape de Sussex (run by SRS events) along Daleham Lane.

When they came across about 20 cyclists, Jo's horse kicked Joanna's in fear and broke its leg, which later had to be put down. She said that although she had been aware that there would be cyclists in the area, she didn't know what time to expect them.

Mr Streeter said of the August 11 event, Wiggle's Haywards Heath Howler Sportive, run by UK Cycling Events: “I was surprised no advance notice was placed in local newspapers. Other local people - particularly anyone with limited mobility or possible walking with a small child - would not want to be out as they couldn’t get to the side of the road quickly enough. We are rather imprisoned and I wonder whether lanes are the right place for these events?”

He did say however that marshalling and signposting at junctions was better than it had been at the Etape de Sussex, but said he was concerned there might be another accident.

Deputy chair Peter Roundell agreed the council had no prior knowledge and added: “There was a lot of disruption and people could not get across the road to church on that day. I don’t know what one can do about it or whether they can be controlled but I certainly intend to ask the councils whether any permits should be sought.”

In Hampshire in May, we reported how local police were forced to issue a strongly worded warning ahead of a re-run of the Wiggle Spring Sportive, that they would not tolerate any attempts to disrupt the event, which on its first day was marred by bad weather and attempts by some local people to disrupt it.

Horses are often spooked by cyclists, especially when approached from behind.

It's advisable to slow right down, and even be prepared to stop. 

Call out if you think you might not have been noticed, and pass with plenty of room to spare.

28 user comments

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"..local people - particularly anyone with limited mobility or possible walking with a small child ..would not want to be out as they couldn’t get to the side of the road quickly enough"

WTF? What do they do when cars are about?

This whole thing makes no sense at all. How is a bunch of cyclists any different from the usual traffic?

posted by localsurfer [169 posts]
24th August 2013 - 14:19

20 Likes

For those that don't subscribe to it, CW had an interesting article last week. I quote a particularly informative section:

“… Horses are prey animals, easily spooked and susceptible to thinking lions lurk everywhere. Like most prey animals, a horse’s eyes are on the side of its head. Given the freedom to move its head and neck, it can look over its back. It also has more acute hearing than its human passenger and generally a horse will know you’re there before the rider does.

As you approach you’ll notice a horse will move its head up and to the side to get a clearer view of you. Since it is seeing you out of one eye it’s likely to see a blur that is a potential predator, thus if you slow down you seem less of a threat. This applies if you’re going toward a horse as well. Horses have evolved to react quickly to movement, not to focus and cogitate.

If a horse shoots forward as you approach, wait and give the rider time to regain control. Even the average Dobbin can accelerate up to 30mph in an eye blink and a fit thoroughbred can accelerate to 40mph. If you are riding in a group, no matter where the horse is on the road make sure you all pass it on the same side. Anything reminiscent of a pincer movement will make the horse panic. …”

Blackman, H. (2013) Listen to the neigh-sayers’ Cycling Weekly, Thurs Aug 15th 2013, p.20

posted by Hasis [37 posts]
24th August 2013 - 14:57

16 Likes

I can completely understand the issues of horses and cyclists mixing, as many people do not know how or even think to alert the animal or rider to their presence before they pass which can result in a spooked and dangerous horse.
However as LocalSurfer says, the comment about people being trapped inside due to cyclists on the roads is absolutely ridiculous.

posted by 2Loose [28 posts]
24th August 2013 - 15:31

23 Likes

Here we go again.
No attempt to see things from the residents point of view I bet.
it's because the event is unusual and thus maybe difficult to cope with given normal circumstances.
Be fair. These events are often less than well ridden.
I am trying to be nice here as I am a keen cyclist myself.
Horse do not like bikes. They cope well with motor vehicles but maybe its the whirring etc that's makes us hard to locate or something. Speed as well plus less familiarity.
No doubt really bikes should creep past horses having made 100% sure that the rider is ready.

posted by mattsccm [280 posts]
24th August 2013 - 17:46

19 Likes

It's ironic that they don't like bikes but it's cars that kill them.
It became so normal e.g. in the New Forest that no one seem to talk or write about it.

I don't follow trends. Trends follow me.

posted by BBB [188 posts]
24th August 2013 - 19:20

19 Likes

Maybe she wants to have advance notice of every pedestrian, single bicycle, car, bird, mouse and meteorite that might dare to think to pass by her while she's on her horse?

posted by Hector Ch [52 posts]
24th August 2013 - 19:51

14 Likes

When was the last time a cyclist sh*t in the road. Horses should be ridden in fields and on bridle paths not roads they are an absolute pain.

Chadders x

chadders's picture

posted by chadders [75 posts]
24th August 2013 - 21:10

22 Likes

Really good post here and it does explain why horse can and do react in the way they do!!

posted by Furry Mommy [32 posts]
24th August 2013 - 21:23

24 Likes

FFS - how many times does a horse have to be destroyed after being spooked by a car and injuring itself? And how often do we hear about it? Are the same riders demanding that cars be banned in the village too.

Our local canoe club has a storage container near some riding trails. On returning from a recent trip we were told by one rider that their horse was spooked by kayaks on top of a car!!!! Let's ban canoes too

I am only as insane as the insanity around me (Jens Voigt)

posted by alronald [58 posts]
24th August 2013 - 21:29

24 Likes

Cars are more dangerous than cyclists. I accept that horses are easily spooked, I've often wonder why the owners of nervous horse subject them to the terrors of the roads, why not ride them in a field where its safe instead of blaming others e.g. cyclists Confused

I think the cyclist is more at risk from a demented horse with a rider who connot control it. If it was an out of control dog, what would these locals being ranting on about then?

All this crap about being imprisoned by cyclists!?? Come on get a grip. Thinking

Endorphines going up and adrenaline going down, who needs drugs?

posted by banzicyclist2 [263 posts]
24th August 2013 - 21:35

18 Likes

Horse do not like bikes.

My experience is different. I've ridden off-road with horses which was a hoot. Especially when one of them bit my handlebar-end as he thought I was going too fast and he wanted to be first! They also liked the red "horse" to go through all the scary gaps first to prove it was safe!
Certainly not the smartest animals in the forest.

Hamster's picture

posted by Hamster [77 posts]
24th August 2013 - 21:39

19 Likes

There is a huge difference between a small group of friends out for a recreational bike ride, and a pack of 50 or more riders passing in close succession, all intent on achieving a personal best for the ride that day. Trying to cross the road when there is a stream of riders which which you cannot get eye contact (mirror shades should be banned by the same token that tinted windows on cars are illegal) and many also riding with the head-down position that saw one rider die recently through riding at full speed into the back of a parked vehicle.

The racing of motor vehicles on a public road is prohibited, and the similar activity of driving within a strictly timed regime for a motor rally requires a licence. Woe betide you if more than 11 of your friends decide to have a 'treasure hunt' with cars.

Formal cycle racing is likewise managed, but there is a substantial grey area, of 'organised rides' and a few groups have experienced the consequences of having no overall co-ordination. I recall one fundraising ride set up with expense and publicity which had just one rider registering because they managed to pick the date of a long established cycling event from the same city, and I do often wonder when pedal fatigue will eventually kick in

Poor organisation albeit not from every group involved will certainly see a keener interest to ensure that events are operated under clear rules which ensure that other road users can safely enjoy use of the road, through proper and effective management whilst the events take place, and that the event organisers carry appropriate cover for any incidents arising. Perhaps s.78 of HA 1835 and successor legislation can be suitably interpreted?

47 years of breaking bikes and still they offer me a 10 year frame warranty!

A V Lowe's picture

posted by A V Lowe [503 posts]
24th August 2013 - 21:54

13 Likes

Trust me folks, the last place you want to be on a horse is on a road and roads are typically used only to link up bridleways/gallops/commons etc.
let's face it, there are plenty of folk who want the "delaying elements" off the highways (horse/bikes etc) so perhaps a little effort to understand other vulnerable road users is not out of order ?

posted by arfa [542 posts]
24th August 2013 - 21:59

16 Likes

Its what the riders are wearing on their heads which is doing it. We must look like horribly strange aliens to horses in our space-age helmets. I have had exactly the same experience in Australia on country roads.
Its the same with some birds. Here I get attacked by magpies but not when I am wearing a hat instead.

posted by Pjrob [23 posts]
24th August 2013 - 22:26

16 Likes

@mattsccm
"Horses do not like bikes"

Well isnt it the job of the rider to make sure the horse is tame enough to be used on the roads? Its not the job of cyclists to train some snobs horse.

Leodis's picture

posted by Leodis [238 posts]
25th August 2013 - 5:59

21 Likes

Personally I like horses on the road because it slows car drivers down. As horses with riders or horses pulling carts are valid road users. Just do as recommended in the highway code, slow down. Also if you can try and smile and say "good morning".
It helps.

Of course it may screw up your strava segment but you'll have other opportunities.

To slo to live, to slo to die! ::-}

posted by OldnSlo [125 posts]
25th August 2013 - 8:47

28 Likes

Leodis wrote:
@mattsccm
"Horses do not like bikes"

Well isnt it the job of the rider to make sure the horse is tame enough to be used on the roads? Its not the job of cyclists to train some snobs horse.

setting aside your prejudice, rather a lot of people work with horses for a living in this country. It is often poorly paid with the constant risk of injury. You might want to learn just how unpredictable they are so that you don't learn at your detriment.

posted by arfa [542 posts]
25th August 2013 - 10:37

16 Likes

I have a little sympathy with residents who live in area's where there are regular organised events, until I read stupid comments like this:

" Other local people - particularly anyone with limited mobility or possible walking with a small child - would not want to be out as they couldn’t get to the side of the road quickly enough. We are rather imprisoned and I wonder whether lanes are the right place for these events?”

How on earth do these people cope with the cars that are using the roads in greter numbers and at higher speeds? It's codswollop, and I lose all sympathy when residents start employing these tactics in their war on cyclists.

posted by Sara_H [56 posts]
25th August 2013 - 10:43

19 Likes

Sara_H wrote:
I have a little sympathy with residents who live in area's where there are regular organised events, until I read stupid comments like this:

" Other local people - particularly anyone with limited mobility or possible walking with a small child - would not want to be out as they couldn’t get to the side of the road quickly enough. We are rather imprisoned and I wonder whether lanes are the right place for these events?”

How on earth do these people cope with the cars that are using the roads in greter numbers and at higher speeds? It's codswollop, and I lose all sympathy when residents start employing these tactics in their war on cyclists.

I was imagining hoards of rampaging cyclists, complete with horned helmets and battle axes burning and looting their way across the countryside....

posted by SideBurn [873 posts]
25th August 2013 - 11:02

16 Likes

Just a load of Nimby's

Leodis's picture

posted by Leodis [238 posts]
25th August 2013 - 13:00

18 Likes

2Loose wrote:
I can completely understand the issues of horses and cyclists mixing, as many people do not know how or even think to alert the animal or rider to their presence before they pass which can result in a spooked and dangerous horse.
However as LocalSurfer says, the comment about people being trapped inside due to cyclists on the roads is absolutely ridiculous.

Completely have to agree with the comment about people being trapped inside but how exactly do horses deal with normal traffic on the road like cars & cyclists (although not 400 in number)? It seems to me that cars would be scarier to a horse than some cyclists

posted by jarredscycling [456 posts]
25th August 2013 - 14:44

16 Likes

Let's face it, a lot of these people simply don't like people riding bikes because we 'get in the way' of them and their cars.

Many of them also won't like horses on the road for the same reason, but in this case it's a convenient argument for them.

It's far from the case that everyone riding in sportives are the most sensible riders, but the argument that they're somehow more dangerous than having a load of cars on the road driving at the NSL is utter b*llocks.

posted by dp24 [195 posts]
25th August 2013 - 16:24

17 Likes

The complaints don't surprise me - the Wiggle events I have done recently are well organised for us, but they are really over-capacity. On the Magnificat, one resident who lived on a very narrow lane, told me that she had no idea about the event (which had a capacity of 2000 cyclists. Imagine if that were some kind of horse sportive ! Sad ). This situation reflects badly on us because of poor communication somewhere down the line - we need to lobby Wiggle / UK Cycling events to fix this.

posted by William_F [2 posts]
25th August 2013 - 16:44

17 Likes

I'm off out in the car - who do I need to inform?

Get out and ride

posted by davidtcycle [62 posts]
25th August 2013 - 19:52

16 Likes

arfa wrote:

setting aside your prejudice, rather a lot of people work with horses for a living in this country. It is often poorly paid with the constant risk of injury. You might want to learn just how unpredictable they are so that you don't learn at your detriment.

Your analogy between cyclist wanting horses off the road, and drivers wanting cyclists off the road is a good one and in general I agree with your points.

However the question of predictability is also interesting. My daughter does a lot of riding and one of the things they are always getting told off for in lessons (it seems to me) is riding too close to the horse in front.

Horses are known for kicking out (and biting etc and generally being bad tempered if they want to be). In the incident where the horse had to be put down because the horse in front kicked and broke the leg of the horse behind, they must have been very close indeed.

While not excusing the cyclists if they approached too fast or without warning, surely when riding a horse in an unpredictable environment, such as on the road, there is some expectation the rider will also follow basic precautions ?

abudhabiChris's picture

posted by abudhabiChris [566 posts]
26th August 2013 - 8:27

19 Likes

@abudhabichris - yes you do try and ensure space and apply common sense. The trouble is controlling a horse with precision is something you will only really find in dressage horses and they are very rare and very expensive.
Horses can spook very easily, sometimes a shadow can set them off and if a horse bolts on you, there is very little you can do short of dragging it to the ground via the reins which is very very dangerous for horse and rider. Generally you let them run it off as far as is possible.
Something that is worth bearing in mind is that horses can be downright nasty. I have had a few kick out, rear buck and do everything to get me off. If you're an apprentice stable lad you might find yourself on something like this from time to time and it is not fun.

My real concern on horses & cyclists is where racehorses and cyclists might meet (eg Epsom downs for instance). There are a lot of stallions around there (intact males with one thing on their mind) which can be feral. A kick from a fit powerful racehorse can very easily be fatal and imagining that horses can be controlled like some domestic pet is incorrect.

As I said above, roads are generally only used by horses to connect up fields with bridleways and gallops and yes horse riders will pretty much always take all sensible precautions

posted by arfa [542 posts]
26th August 2013 - 17:49

19 Likes

localsurfer wrote:
"..local people - particularly anyone with limited mobility or possible walking with a small child ..would not want to be out as they couldn’t get to the side of the road quickly enough"

WTF? What do they do when cars are about?

This whole thing makes no sense at all. How is a bunch of cyclists any different from the usual traffic?

Haters are going to hate. Its naive to think they have genuine safety concerns.

posted by qwerky [149 posts]
27th August 2013 - 8:34

22 Likes

Quote:
seems to me that cars would be scarier to a horse than some cyclists

yeah but generally you can hear cars coming from further away,so you have chance to look round, see them approaching, and realise it's just a car.

If you don't hear a bike approaching and only see it when it;s within 'striking distance' then your heckles are up and you spook. Using your voice {just saying a cherry hello to the rider} is usually enough to let horses know you're human, something they come across every day.

posted by bellevedere [19 posts]
27th August 2013 - 9:03

15 Likes