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Car parking plea to end to mass cycling events in the New Forest

Horse riders in the New Forest have pleaded with the organisers of the New Forest Show to stop renting out their showground as car parking for cyclo-sportive riders.

Equestrians in the area feel that there are too many organised mass cycle rides in the area, which often start and finish at the showground in New Park, Brokenhurst.

The New Forest Agricultural Show Society has said that it will consider the request at a board meeting in November, citing the cancellation of a pony drive last month due to the presence of the Wiggle New Forest 100 Sportive, organised by UK Cycle Events.

We reported how the event, which saw up to 3,000 cyclists descend on the area, meant that the New Forest Verderers made the decision to cancel the drift on safety grounds.

According to the Forestry Commission: "round-ups, or ‘drifts’ are held throughout the forest by the Agisters to treat any health problems the ponies and cattle may have, and to keep a count of the stock roaming the Open Forest.

Mares and foals are marked during this time – foals are branded and the tails of mares are cut in distinctive patterns – enabling the Agisters to see that the grazing fees have been paid and to indicate in which area their owner lives."

New Forest Equestrian Association chairman Tony Hockley told the Bournemouth Echo that the cancellation was the “last straw”.

He said: “The purpose of the society, which leases the showground from the Forestry Commission, is to ‘support agriculture and equestrianism’.

"The use of the showground as a car park for commercial off-site events involving more than 1,000 cars and thousands of competitors is making life even harder for a struggling equine community that is the backbone of the rural economy 365 days a year.

“Without the availability of the showground site, these cycle events would be restricted to a much more manageable size.”

New Forest Show secretary Denis Dooley said: “We obtained the lease of New Park in 2005 and since this time have offered a low-cost, flexible venue to a variety of different organisations.

“We have recently received a letter from the NFEA expressing their concerns over the identity and size of future events held at New Park and will look into these concerns at our next board meeting on November 20.”

Martin Barden of UK Cycling Events said that in the case of the Wiggle New Forest 100 sportive, due notice had been given of the event, which was planned last year.

He said: “Despite offers of altering our event and working with the drift to ensure it was safe and could continue, the Verderers have made the decision to move it to another day.”
“We hope that with better communication from the Verderers, future clashes can be avoided.”

The row is the latest in a series of clashes between cyclists and New Forest residents.

The Wiggle New Forest Spring Sportive was subject to sabotage, with in excess of 1,000 signs vandalised, drawing pins scattered on the road and motorists driving slowly to form a kind of rolling road block. The event has been the subject of vociferous opposition from some locals.

It’s all part of an ongoing battle between horse riders and cyclists in the New Forest, which has seen accusations of spooked horses and blocked roads for locals.

In June 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 along Daleham Lane.

When they came across about 20 cyclists, Jo's horse kicked Joanna's in fear and broke its leg.

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.

Tips for riding around horses:

  • 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.

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.

51 comments

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mrmo [2064 posts] 2 years ago
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I guess, first question how many events are there? and then how much of a problem are these events?

It is established that the real issue for horses, as in what kills them, is cars. Bikes are quiet and are an issue in that regard, but i would ask whether some horses should be on the road at all. Some are very easily spooked, one rider i know has a horse that has issues with leaves!

I do suspect that the real issue is not bikes but more NIMBYism. Too many thinking it is their forest, and how many of these complainers are actually locals, and how many are commuters, second home owners and the like?

How much money is being brought to the area and how much is being lost?

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sean1 [175 posts] 2 years ago
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The New Forest is a national park and it's remit is ;

To protect the existing environment and habitat.
To foster economic and social well being of the residents.
To promote enjoyment of the National Park.

http://www.newforestnpa.gov.uk/info/20038/about_the_authority

The Showground also hosts many other large scale events, shows and concerts with 1000s of visitors, so a cycling event is no different to these.

Also I would be interested in how Mr Hockley thinks these cycling events are "making it harder for a struggling equine community". Some explanation and facts would be handy here.

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Rouboy [90 posts] 2 years ago
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As a civilised society whatever happened to sharing and live n let live. I truly can't understand why the Forest can't be used by all without the animosity.. Back in the real world now I keep forgetting as cyclists at best we are nothing more than second class citizens!!!!

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northstar [1108 posts] 2 years ago
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Just more anti-cycling agenda rubbish / nimbyism.

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Northernbike [229 posts] 2 years ago
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it's really sad to read about bikes and horses coming into conflict down there as they should be on the same side. I live in an area myself with lots of people riding bikes and horses on the same roads but without these kind of problems. My experience shows that it is not inevitable therefore that bikes and horses can't get along, and added to the number of horses they run over in their cars every year it is, dare I suggest, possibly not really the safety of horses at all that is the main concern of the new forest folks.

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Carl [135 posts] 2 years ago
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Even in a car I'd give a horse a wide berth and pass it slowly and quietly...I don't want it spooking and falling on the car. If cyclists expect cars to overtake by changing lanes, I think horse riders should be given the same respect. I'm sure most sensible cyclists would.

And can't these round-ups happen on week days?

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badback [302 posts] 2 years ago
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I used to ride horses myself so know what it's like to be cut up whilst riding but what is it with some horse riders.

We were out on our club ride today and there were two horse riders going the same direction as us and two members of the local hunt coming down towards us chasing a hound that had gone stray. We dutifully held back to let the hunt riders through and give us room to ride around the horse riders that were going the same way as us.

Did we get a thank you. No. All we got was - I bet none of you have a bell on your bike ! (My reply was I bet you haven't got a bell on your horse either)

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osxboy [50 posts] 2 years ago
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Having lived in the forest this is no big surprise they people complaining all seem to think it's 'their' forest but it's our forest. As ever there is always something for them to complain about but they would be buggered if no one visited the forest because it's full of unfriendly selfish NIMBYs.

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OldRidgeback [2567 posts] 2 years ago
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"Get orff moi land."

"Err, it's not your land. It's publicly owned."

"I said, get orff moi land."

I think that pretty much sums up athe attitudes of those residents in the New Forest complaining about cyclists. If they were to call for the use of large 4x4s to be banned, the number of horses killed on the roads in the area would be reduced significantly.

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Forester [115 posts] 2 years ago
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Drift wasn't cancelled it was postponed for a few days; walkers etc are advised to keep clear of drifts as they are 'dangerous'!

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Tom Amos [236 posts] 2 years ago
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I was cycling through west Berkshire recently - massive equestrian area - when a helicopter passed overhead. Horses in adjacent field went nuts. Should helicopters be banned then? One has to ask if horses are scared by bikes, they must be terrified of cars, lorries etc?

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Adders69 [15 posts] 2 years ago
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I understand that earlier in the year the organisers of one of the events carried out a survey of sample riders - which suggested that over a third of participants had stayed locally. Sooo ... if they want the local tourist economy to be reduced ... so be it.

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BBB [345 posts] 2 years ago
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I commute/train on various routes in the NF area and there is no month or week without a new "animal death" sign appearing on the side of the road.

Again, a bunch of narrow minded idiots is moaning about imaginary dangers and keeping quiet on the real ones in case they upset the motorised sacred cows.

Yawn...

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700c [851 posts] 2 years ago
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These Wiggle events are pretty big. As per recent reports in Surrey, locals are getting frustrated by the lack of consultation or central management / coordination of these events, which means there can be very large numbers of cyclists on the road at one time, participating in events organised by companies with varying degrees of competence, across routes that may even cross or flow against each other..

The equestrians sound like NIMBY's, sure, but what they're asking for is simply the only way they can think to restrict such large volume events, in the absence of any regulation.

I think it is time these events were regulated/ licensed in some way, if only to help counter the often spurious arguments that NIMBY's come out with.

Cyclists are the only group of road user that participate in organised events in such large numbers on the road, I suspect (imagine 3000 horses - it would never happen!).

It's time we approached this with some common sense instead of considering it a 'them and us' situation with parties diametrically opposed.

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mrmo [2064 posts] 2 years ago
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Tom Amos wrote:

I was cycling through west Berkshire recently - massive equestrian area - when a helicopter passed overhead. Horses in adjacent field went nuts. Should helicopters be banned then? One has to ask if horses are scared by bikes, they must be terrified of cars, lorries etc?

The problem with bikes is they are reasonably fast and quiet. Cars are noisy so the horse has plenty of warning, but even then a fast car will easily spook a horse.

Horses have evolved to flee from danger, you are the silent hunter. A horse hears you, jumps and flees. Obviously you don't want a horse to do that! Common sense says let the rider know you are there, don't rush etc. Watch what the horse does as you pass.

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russyparkin [570 posts] 2 years ago
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hum going against the grain here but i think there are to many sportives period. what happened to just going for a ride around a route?

when did it become the norm to pay £40 to ride the roads that every other day of the year are free?

i live on dartmoor and did the classic route in reverse this year cost me nothing and i didnt have to worry about the phycotic riders who dont know the decents and cattle grids stacking it left right and centre and generally cycling with no regard for the people around them?

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crazy-legs [720 posts] 2 years ago
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700c wrote:

I think it is time these events were regulated/ licensed in some way, if only to help counter the often spurious arguments that NIMBY's come out with.

I don't disagree with you, however logistics and market forces make it very difficult to implement.

At the moment, the Wiggle/UK Cycling Events rides are all insured by British Cycling so there is a degree of control and licensing there - British Cycling has the power to say "no, we won't insure your event on that day because..." But at the moment, an organiser being told "no" can simply wander off to a third party insurance provider and put the event on anyway.

Not saying that happens with Wiggle at all - as far as I can see they're one of the best in the Sportive market at the moment.

So it's incredibly difficult to control or licence them, the police don't have nay powers to stop them although you could argue that better dialogue within the venue to limit numbers would be a good thing - again that'd be up to the risk assessment, the venue and the organiser.

The New Forest and to a lesser extent Surrey (and also Pitlochry with the Etape Caledonia) all have very small but very vocal (and very well-organised and well-connected) groups of NIMBYs (for want of a better word) - while the vast majority of people either don't care one way or the other or are actively pro these events, unfortunately the "opposition" is sufficiently motivated to make life extremely difficult for all concerned. Not sure how this one is going to play out in the next year or two...

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Carl [135 posts] 2 years ago
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Adders69 wrote:

I understand that earlier in the year the organisers of one of the events carried out a survey of sample riders - which suggested that over a third of participants had stayed locally. Sooo ... if they want the local tourist economy to be reduced ... so be it.

Er, quite, because tourism is probably far bigger than the equine economy they claim keeps the place going. Weren't we once told the countryside would face economic ruin if fox hunting was banned?

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NIrish [20 posts] 2 years ago
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I can't say that I would agree with those who put horse riders and cyclists in the same position. As road users we wish for respect and will try to accommodate traffic behind us, horsey people are not accommodating in the slightest. Par example driving around a bend at 50 and slowing and alerted by oncoming drivers to discover two horse riders on the road. If these were cyclists any hold up would be minimal, we don't get spooked by passing traffic. What's wrong with fields for horses.

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Metjas [361 posts] 2 years ago
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why does our gut feeling seem to be "what are we cyclists doing wrong" where in fact the very large majority of us are incredibly good at almost making us 'invisible' on public roads so as not to antagonize other users. Cyclists in general are very good at accommodating others - one could only hope others would do likewise.

It is totally unwarranted for a very small minority of horse riders to claim their enjoyment/safety is being jeopardized by cycling events. These people should be made to do a house swap with continentals to realize how normal it is for a cycling event, race or sportive, to be both supported and tolerated by the wider community.

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matttheaudit [72 posts] 2 years ago
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Yes most of us do as we should and so make no impact on the memory of the people who like complaining. Sadly, the one or two cyclists who behave like pricks are the ones non-cyclists remember and we will all end up in the same negative category. Just check out the comments of your local paper whenever there is a cycling related story - all cyclists become the pavement rider, the red light jumper or hoody wearing handbag snatcher.

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JonD [393 posts] 2 years ago
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NIrish wrote:

I can't say that I would agree with those who put horse riders and cyclists in the same position. As road users we wish for respect and will try to accommodate traffic behind us, horsey people are not accommodating in the slightest. Par example driving around a bend at 50 and slowing and alerted by oncoming drivers to discover two horse riders on the road. If these were cyclists any hold up would be minimal, we don't get spooked by passing traffic. What's wrong with fields for horses.

First - they have just as much right to be there as anyone else.

Plus if you think barrelling around corners at 50 and relying on others to alert you to what's there is ok, may I suggest you read 'Roadcraft', as used by the Police and IAM, eg 'only go as fast as the distance you can see to stop in'. There is no excuse to being caught out by what's around the corner.

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JonD [393 posts] 2 years ago
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(Rats -double post)

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Colin Peyresourde [1673 posts] 2 years ago
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Again, people here are too quick to diminish the views of non-cyclists, or perceived anti-cyclists.

So the equine community has seen itself disrupted by the cycling events. I can understand that they ask about the scheduling of the cycling events. It doesn't sound like they are asking for a ban. Just a but more consideration.

I can imagine that an event which takes up 100 miles of round, has multiple routes and lasts 10hrs would also cause a fair bit of local disruption.

My experience of sportives is that there are belligerent elements who treat the experience with all the due care and consideration of someone who has paid their £30 entrance and expects to cue jump every ride i.e. None. So I can see why groups of locals are gathering themselves together to register their objections.

Why can't people just try to get along and pay due respect? I think that is all that is being asked for really.

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ashfanman [120 posts] 2 years ago
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Neil753 - not sure how workable that would be in practice, but a lot of that makes a lot of sense. Pouring the profit directly back into the local economy, such as carrying out repairs on the road, is a particularly good idea.

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NIrish [20 posts] 2 years ago
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It's a bend and not a corner, it does have matrix boards for horses that we're not lit at the time. As much as I enjoy a bit rallying I am no longer a male under 25 driver, I was abiding by the rules of the road he cling why I said slowing.

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700c [851 posts] 2 years ago
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@Neil753, great post.

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Leodis [402 posts] 2 years ago
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The racketeering going on is not in the interest of cycling, the people making the money are not doing the image of cycling any good with repeated sportives in one area.

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MDC 06 [6 posts] 2 years ago
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There is someone on this site who has the signature tagline "if bicycles were invented now - they'd be the solution not the problem" and I just think it sums the situation up so well.

I find it depressing that there is so much anti-cycling sentiment / resentment in the UK generally and also how willing cyclists are to criticise each other's choices as to how they enjoy the sport.

I started cycling for a bit of fitness but really started to put miles in of the road when I signed up for L'Etape du Tour' - one of those dreaded events so regularly criticised on these forums for 'paying to ride free roads'. As part of my milestone targets for my training and my education of pacing, riding in groups, eating, drinking I entered a sportive each month building up to the Etape. I started with the Cheshire Cat and developed my training with The Charlie B, Granfondo Cogolin, The Tour de Lac Lemond and Grandfondo Ventoux. For me, entering these events was an incentive, an education and an enjoyment (for the most part) - so why the negativity about them?? They work for some - not all.

A few years ago I was running regularly and entered a number of big city marathons. Not once did a club runner criticise why I would want to pay to run on the free roads. It was always encouragement and "great - someone else enjoying the sport", getting out there and living life. I was never going to trouble the scorer but I still got out there and challenged myself in a way that appealed to me even if not you.

As for all the comments about riding more than two abreast and slightly holding up traffic (The Forest is a bit short of climbs to break up the groups) - You can be sure that nobody worries about the disruption to local traffic as 60,000 come and go each week to football matches , just as when F1 goes to silverstone, the horse racing at Ascot, Classical concerts in Hyde Park or even the New Forest Show gridlocking part of the New Forest each summer for 1 to 2 weeks..... We all have different ways to enjoy life - we just need some give and take. Even if there were 5 large sportives a year in the Forest (and I think there are less) this is still a fraction of the time that the Forest is available for all other users to share and enjoy - and the benefits to the local economy is great (I suspect that a great number of the complainers are retired and 'financially secure' - not the local B&B's).

It bemuses me that it generates so much hostility - not that appreciation and respect to the community and the environment is not equally required from cyclists whilst being "accommodated" ...

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Just a sub note as have rambled too much already but you can be sure these conversations are not happening in France where even a local club sportive has assistance from the police, traffic stopped at junctions rolling road closures and large peletons etc etc etc.

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gazza_d [458 posts] 2 years ago
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This kind of anti-cycling backlash really disappoints.

Do the horse rider groups campaign against

Car boot sales
Caravan rallies
Gymkanas
Pony Clubs
Antique fairs
Wedding fairs
Firework displays (with Bonfire night almost on us)

I could go on, but there are an awful lot of other events besides cycling going on in the New Forest and you never see the natives rail against them.

Ignore them and carry on as normal. As long as the Police and other authorities are happy then the nimbies can bog off

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