Leader of Hampshire County Council says it can’t regulate New Forest sportives

No animal accidents involving cyclists since 2008, says park authority

by John Stevenson   November 25, 2013  

New Forest rider and pony (CC licensed by iNew Forest:Flickr)

 

In a direct contradiction to threats made by his predecessor, Hampshire County Council leader Roy Perry has said that the council has no power to regulate sportive rides in the New Forest, and is fully committed to supporting cycling in Hampshire.

According to the Southern Daily Echo, Councillor Perry said: “Neither the district or county council have legal powers to restrict large-scale cycling events.”

Councillor Perry’s remarks come after Councillor Ken Thornber, whose role as chairman of the council is largely ceremonial, recently said: “Competitive cycling is changing the character of the Forest for the worse. If the organisers don’t agree to enforce a code of conduct it falls to us – the local highway authority – to take action to regulate these events.”

Councillor Perry said event organisers already cooperated with the council.

He said: “We do endeavour to work with event organisers across Hampshire on traffic management plans, which include issues around briefing participants, signage, speeds and duties of marshals. In general these are effective in managing any traffic and safety issues. But the production and implementation of such traffic plans is purely voluntary on the part of event organisers.

“The concerns of local residents relate very much to the scale and local impact of larger cycling events attracting thousands of riders to particular areas, which is disruptive to everyday life and business in the local community.

"In this regard local councillors are quite right to raise legitimate concerns on behalf of residents.

“Any event which brings thousands of people to an area, whether they are on foot, two or four wheels, needs to be carefully managed to limit the impact on the local community.”

Risk to animals

The effect on wildlife is often cited by New Forest residents as a reason for their opposition to large-scale cycling events in the forest.

However, the New Forest National Park Authority has no record of any animal accidents involving cyclists.

Nigel Matthews, the head of recreation management and learning for the New Forest National Park Authority rtold road.cc: “The Verderers’ Office keep a database of all animal accidents reported to them; the current system dates back to January 2008. I have checked and there are currently no incidents involving cyclists on this database.”

Traffic control measures in the park have steadily reduced the animal toll over the last few decades, but that trend seems ot have reversed this year.

Mt Matthews said: “Sadly, this year has so far seen an increase in animal accidents (mostly caused by car drivers) so we anticipate that the end of year statistics will not be as ‘good’ as the last three years.”

Events such as the Wiggle New Forest Sportive organised by UK Cycling Events also bring substantial economic benefits to the area, according to organiser Martin Barden.

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

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The objection from the locals comes purely from those who do not have the skills to operate a motor vehicle safely.

Anything about ponies is a pure distraction from the real issue... they can't drive for toffee.

posted by MrGear [85 posts]
25th November 2013 - 15:42

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It would be interesting to know how many "animal incidents" involving motor vehicles there have been since 2008.

posted by felixcat [208 posts]
25th November 2013 - 15:44

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posted by mrmo [1064 posts]
25th November 2013 - 16:05

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343 killed since 2008 (assuming that 2008 itself is included in "since"). Plus 141 injured. Bicycles very much not the issue when it comes to animal deaths.

posted by David Portland [88 posts]
25th November 2013 - 16:15

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How dangerous can a bike ride be? I mean this is a common topic or at least it appears to be. How upset can you be about a bike ride?

posted by jarredscycling [436 posts]
25th November 2013 - 16:19

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bikes in themselves are NOT dangerous to horses in the same way a car is. It is very difficult to kill a horse with a bike.

But horses are skittish, they do get spooked by fast silent things, like wolves or bikes...

If a horse gets spooked it can, and does happen, throw the rider. Obviously not a good situation, that the spooked horse is then likely to run only makes it worse.

Simple solution is to give horses space, let them know you are there and listen if a rider asks you to wait, apply a bit of common sense!

Cyclists and equestrians have a lot in common when it come to the risks posed by cars. It makes sense to work together rather than infight. We can start arguing with the horsey lot once we have dealt with driving standards!!!!

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posted by mrmo [1064 posts]
25th November 2013 - 16:22

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Hampshire County Council may not be able to regulate sportives, but they could organise their own, with (crucially) closed roads, once a year, with huge numbers of participants and the support of residents, and with all proceeds going to the communities through which the event passes.

With the prospect of a big, closed road event, other events that are run for commercial gain, rather than for the benefit of the community, will naturally wither on the vine without the need for any regulation, and relations will be improved because one big event per year in the New Forest is far less disruptive than a number of smaller events.

"Hey..... Let's be visible out there."

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posted by Neil753 [451 posts]
25th November 2013 - 16:34

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Excellent post mrmo, and as a cyclist and member of the "horsey lot", I would like to counter the 'you should be in control of your animal' comments before they start by saying; you get a flat tyre, at speed while riding, are you in complete control of your bike? No, but you quickly asses the situation and using skill you bring the bike to a halt without accident.

Same thing happens with a horse, something startles it, in my case that last time it happened it was a flailing muck spreader in the field I was riding past, for a few moments all hell breaks loose, until you regain control.

Same situation, different cause.

As far as cyclists and horse are concerned, I really believe there is no conflict, even given that some horse riders are completely arrogant tw*ts and that a little give and take by both parties can help avoid most issues.

As far as the New Forest is concerned..... I don't go there, on a bike or on a horse.

posted by Grubbythumb [32 posts]
25th November 2013 - 16:43

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mrmo wrote:
If a horse gets spooked it can, and does happen, throw the rider. Obviously not a good situation, that the spooked horse is then likely to run only makes it worse.

While true, this is largely irrelevant to the New Forest -- the ponies often cited as being in danger are just wandering around grazing. Of course there are lots of horse riders out there, but they're not, for the most part, the ones that get run into. And a lot of the animals killed or injured are deer or cattle, which obviously aren't being ridden either Smile

posted by David Portland [88 posts]
25th November 2013 - 16:47

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With an attitude like that, I'm not surprised it's taken GB so long to be force to be reckoned with.

Cyclists on the Continent, France and Belgium especially, garner so much respect from motorists. The result? They have become great cycling nations.

I accept, that there are bad cyclists around, for the most part we (I speak collectively) are pretty good. What motorist don't understand is that riders have just as much right to use the roads. Plus, when a car hits someone on a bike there a very high chance they will kill them.

posted by boardmanrider [67 posts]
25th November 2013 - 16:48

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David Portland wrote:

While true, this is largely irrelevant to the New Forest -- the ponies often cited as being in danger are just wandering around grazing. or cattle, which obviously aren't being ridden either Smile

Ponies can still be spooked by fast quiet bikes, as can deer. Cows, generally, are too placid these days to react and sheep are too stupid to realise that sitting in the middle of a road on a blind bend is not a good idea Smile

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posted by mrmo [1064 posts]
25th November 2013 - 16:52

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In Europe they give cyclists more room, they also eat a lot more horses.

I think we can all see a solution to the New Forest situation.

I reckon you can fit a meat tenderiser in your jersey's pump pocket quite easily.

posted by farrell [1388 posts]
25th November 2013 - 17:03

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boardmanrider wrote:
Cyclists on the Continent, France and Belgium especially, garner so much respect from motorists. The result? They have become great cycling nations.

Well, I'd argue that without any respect, the UK has somehow become a great cycling nation - if you're only counting TdF stage wins and World and Olympic gold medals.

What I'd like to see in the UK, rather than respect for cycling and cyclists (which I don't see ever happening in the current climate of recrimination and bickering), is proper segregated infrastructure that separates vulnerable road users as much as possible from motor traffic - everywhere - just like they have in the Netherlands.

posted by congokid [114 posts]
25th November 2013 - 17:27

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congokid wrote:
boardmanrider wrote:
Cyclists on the Continent, France and Belgium especially, garner so much respect from motorists. The result? They have become great cycling nations.

Well, I'd argue that without any respect, the UK has somehow become a great cycling nation - if you're only counting TdF stage wins and World and Olympic gold medals.

A few golds and a couple of TdF wins, a cycling nation doesnt make.

This country has a funny history with cycling. Racing on the roads was banned for years after WW2, so races were carried out secretively and were individual time trials whereas on mainland Europe, you've had a hundred years or more of peloton road races as well as track events that have a carnival atmosphere about them.

Cycling culture is ingrained into European culture in a very different way to how it is in the UK. I would say that the (general population of the) UK has a similar attitude to that of the US: cycling is something you grow out of when you can finally learn to drive.

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posted by zanf [471 posts]
25th November 2013 - 17:38

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Thanks for the link to animals killed by motors, mrmo. Usual drivers' hypocrisy!

posted by felixcat [208 posts]
25th November 2013 - 17:40

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I grew up in the New Forest and my brother still lives there. The sort of people that moan about cyclists are not really Forest people. They are generally the ones that have moved in and bought property because it's a nice place to live.

They bought in for the views and the rural idyll and for most of them that's a narrow picture postcard idyll. Some of them have also been shocked to find that people who work in the Forest mostly in agriculture and aboriculture use machinery and make noise. They don't like that either.

A lot of them think they moved to a Disneyland Forest and because they paid so much they think anyone that upsets their narrow little view of things needs to be stopped.

My brother tells me of the woman that having moved into the forest started complaining that the ponies and cows are allowed to graze freely. She thought they'd escaped from a farm and the farmer needed better fences.

On being told that the ponies are wild and that the forest is common grazing land and that this was how it had been for 800 odd years she replied "well someone should do something!"

That's what you are up against. The Forest people that actually live and work there won't give you any trouble and they are also not the ones (generally) that kill the ponies with their vehicles. That's also usually the newcomers that don't understand the Forest roads.

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

posted by oozaveared [559 posts]
25th November 2013 - 18:37

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Surely it's simple? If all us cyclists stop going there, whether it be sportives, touring....etc and therefore stop staying in the campsites, B&Bs, Hotels, pubs.... Let's stop buying food from the shops, bakers, pubs.... Watch the place decline into a dump of closed down pubs and boarded up shops and then see how long it takes for these idiots to welcome "us cyclists" back.

posted by 1750nick [10 posts]
25th November 2013 - 19:39

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1750nick wrote:
Surely it's simple? If all us cyclists stop going there, whether it be sportives, touring....etc and therefore stop staying in the campsites, B&Bs, Hotels, pubs.... Let's stop buying food from the shops, bakers, pubs.... Watch the place decline into a dump of closed down pubs and boarded up shops and then see how long it takes for these idiots to welcome "us cyclists" back.

That is what the incomers want, they don't need locals, they can buy bread on the way back from the City. The less locals and tourists clogging up their roads the better.

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posted by mrmo [1064 posts]
25th November 2013 - 20:21

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In Seattle (I'm a transplant from the UK) there's a similar potential tension between horses and bikes, particularly regarding a lot of CX and XC routes.

The cyclists defuse it with a ride called the Stinky Spoke, which raises money for a centre that uses horses as part of therapy for adults and children with learning disabilities.

http://stinkyspoke.org/

The event raises a lot of cash, and the goodwill raised by it ensures that the equestrian community is very much in support of the cyclists, and vice versa.

Perhaps a century ride through the New Forest in support of the Charity for Homeless Ponies might do the same?

posted by Gordy748 [83 posts]
25th November 2013 - 20:30

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"Councillor Perry said: “Neither the district or county council have legal powers to restrict large-scale cycling events.”

Read....but we'd love to have the power to interfere and prevent mass cycling events.

posted by Guyz2010 [283 posts]
25th November 2013 - 21:59

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Gordy748 wrote:
In Seattle (I'm a transplant from the UK) there's a similar potential tension between horses and bikes, particularly regarding a lot of CX and XC routes.

The cyclists defuse it with a ride called the Stinky Spoke, which raises money for a centre that uses horses as part of therapy for adults and children with learning disabilities.

http://stinkyspoke.org/

The event raises a lot of cash, and the goodwill raised by it ensures that the equestrian community is very much in support of the cyclists, and vice versa.

Perhaps a century ride through the New Forest in support of the Charity for Homeless Ponies might do the same?

I for one love this idea, bravo. Applause

posted by gareth2510 [136 posts]
26th November 2013 - 11:00

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Guyz2010 wrote:
"Councillor Perry said: “Neither the district or county council have legal powers to restrict large-scale cycling events.”

Read....but we'd love to have the power to interfere and prevent mass cycling events.

Ironically his predecessor called a sportive a 'competitive' event which is legally 'non' competitive.

Don't you sportive lot think its daft that there is no legal means for local authority or police power to govern 'X' Hundred or thousand riders in a mass participation event, yet the police can quite well within their rights kybosh any road race organisers application for an 80 rider 2.5 hour long racethat will more often than not inculde marshalls, NEG motorbike outriders, and trained race officials and a first aid wagon?

posted by rothbags [7 posts]
26th November 2013 - 13:47

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rothbags wrote:
Guyz2010 wrote:
"Councillor Perry said: “Neither the district or county council have legal powers to restrict large-scale cycling events.”

Read....but we'd love to have the power to interfere and prevent mass cycling events.

Ironically his predecessor called a sportive a 'competitive' event which is legally 'non' competitive.

Don't you sportive lot think its daft that there is no legal means for local authority or police power to govern 'X' Hundred or thousand riders in a mass participation event, yet the police can quite well within their rights kybosh any road race organisers application for an 80 rider 2.5 hour long racethat will more often than not inculde marshalls, NEG motorbike outriders, and trained race officials and a first aid wagon?

OK. Confessions out first. Never raced, but ridden a few sportives. None in the New Forest.

I do think it is odd that road races are so heavily regulated. I would go as far as to say that the rise of sportives is partly to circumvent the rules. I know they are not races, but once you have a time with which you can compare yourself against others there is always a level of competition - even if mine is can I finish in the top half - and I won't be taking any risks with mine or others safety to steal a few seconds.

Nobody laughs at 10Ks or marathons as races. Apart from a few better athletes most people in these are just like sportive riders. Test themselves against a random bunch of others.

Most sportives appear to cause little fuss. The New Forest is an exception. Closed roads events seem similarly to cause a bit of fuss.

Ride more, ride better

posted by Sniffer [126 posts]
26th November 2013 - 14:00

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Note to Rothbags
I've only ever done one sportive (180K Somerset Gran Fondo) and was, at some pinchpoints early on the ride, appalled at the arrogant behavior of the cyclists at a heavily trafficked right turn juction. Admittedly the flow evened out later on on the route causing less problems.
I don't think I would ever attend a Sportive again with more than 500-700 riders in it.

posted by Guyz2010 [283 posts]
26th November 2013 - 14:18

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Guyz2010 wrote:
Note to Rothbags
I've only ever done one sportive (180K Somerset Gran Fondo) and was, at some pinchpoints early on the ride, appalled at the arrogant behavior of the cyclists at a heavily trafficked right turn juction. Admittedly the flow evened out later on on the route causing less problems.
I don't think I would ever attend a Sportive again with more than 500-700 riders in it.
I witness a similar situation when riding the "London to Brighton" each year, but there is a general level of "acceptance" amongst participants, drivers, residents and indeed the police, no doubt because it's for charity and only happens once a year.

But (and it is a big but) once commercial companies are involved, for the main purpose of generating profit, in the full knowledge of the disruption that is likely to occur, in the full knowledge that cyclists in general will face a backlash from both communities and drivers, and in the full knowledge that multiple events in the same popular areas will compound all these problems, then you just know that something has seriously gone wrong.

We need big events, on closed roads, organised by local agencies, and with all the proceeds going to local causes, but spaced out such that no resident or business is compromised (crucially) more than once per year. Only then will we begin to get drivers, residents, and other interested parties, on our side.

Possibly the single biggest obstacle to cycling acceptance is the commercial sportive "industry".

"Hey..... Let's be visible out there."

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posted by Neil753 [451 posts]
26th November 2013 - 15:51

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Councillor Perry said: “Neither the district or county council have legal powers to restrict large-scale cycling events.”

Just so. Neither do they have the legal power to restrict large scale motoring events - like the M25 or similar car parks at rush hour for example Rolling On The Floor

Hating our selfish and ignorant car culture

posted by ironmancole [124 posts]
27th November 2013 - 1:20

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David Portland wrote:
343 killed since 2008 (assuming that 2008 itself is included in "since"). Plus 141 injured. Bicycles very much not the issue when it comes to animal deaths.

Yes yes but what are we going to do about those noisy cyclists?

To be that narrow minded must be truly awful eh? Laughing

Hating our selfish and ignorant car culture

posted by ironmancole [124 posts]
27th November 2013 - 1:28

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ironmancole wrote:
Councillor Perry said: “Neither the district or county council have legal powers to restrict large-scale cycling events.”

Just so. Neither do they have the legal power to restrict large scale motoring events - like the M25 or similar car parks at rush hour for example Rolling On The Floor

I can guarantee that when I go out to pick my daughter up after work I will be significantly delayed by a motoring event (I think they call it 'rush hour' or something). I'm yet to work out the appeal of this event but loads of people seem to be into it. Worst of all there seem to be no marshals or anybody else ensuring that these drivers behave themselves.

posted by Matt eaton [395 posts]
27th November 2013 - 12:28

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"Don't you sportive lot think its daft that there is no legal means for local authority or police power to govern 'X' Hundred or thousand riders in a mass participation event, yet the police can quite well within their rights kybosh any road race organizers application for an 80 rider 2.5 hour long race that will more often than not include marshals, NEG motorbike outriders, and trained race officials and a first aid wagon?"

No, one closes the road the other merely increases the traffic. A very different scenario.
If you want to "govern" traffic increases that should/would apply to all legal road vehicles so every match day you should "govern" the 1000's of cars heading in to the stadium to see the match. Of course that's ridiculous and it's just as ridiculous to "govern" a 1000 cyclists on an open road.
A few stewards helping to manage choke points for parking etc. and a few traffic police to assist in managing the impact of the event is simply sensible it's done on match days and it can be (and is) done for sportives. The system works. It isn't broken. The only people who appear to differ are very selfish people in the New Forest.

posted by Wrongfoot [30 posts]
9th March 2014 - 13:40

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Wrongfoot wrote:
"Don't you sportive lot think its daft that there is no legal means for local authority or police power to govern 'X' Hundred or thousand riders in a mass participation event, yet the police can quite well within their rights kybosh any road race organizers application for an 80 rider 2.5 hour long race that will more often than not include marshals, NEG motorbike outriders, and trained race officials and a first aid wagon?"

No, one closes the road the other merely increases the traffic. A very different scenario.
If you want to "govern" traffic increases that should/would apply to all legal road vehicles so every match day you should "govern" the 1000's of cars heading in to the stadium to see the match. Of course that's ridiculous and it's just as ridiculous to "govern" a 1000 cyclists on an open road.
A few stewards helping to manage choke points for parking etc. and a few traffic police to assist in managing the impact of the event is simply sensible it's done on match days and it can be (and is) done for sportives. The system works. It isn't broken. The only people who appear to differ are very selfish people in the New Forest.

The reason why sportives need to be regulated is because, unlike other organised rides such as clubruns, many of the participants consider them to be a competitive event, to the potential detriment not only of the residents and businesses along the route, but also to the dismay of cyclists totally unconnected with the whole sportive phenomenon, who are subjected to punishment passes and other abuse, by dangerous motorists out for revenge.
If you don't believe this is happening, then that's just reinforces the dire need for regulation.

If you had a similarly "competitive" event for cars, with drivers abusing residents, driving on the wrong side of the road, chucking gel wrappers out of the car window, and repeating the whole debacle several times a year on some popular roads, and with drivers' "times" being published on the internet, then most people would concede that such events would also need regulation too.

There's clearly a need for sportives, but the idea that so many other people should have to suffer, for profit, and so fequently in popular areas that tax payers money has to be allocated to keep the peace, is just plain wrong.

Much better to regulate, so that, for instance, all profits go directly to the communities through which the sportive passes, to run them on closed roads, and only once a year on any individual stretch of road. Do that, and everyone will be able to have fun without this growing unrest that is absolutely killing any chance of cycling being seen as anything other than dangerously confrontational.

"Hey..... Let's be visible out there."

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posted by Neil753 [451 posts]
9th March 2014 - 16:32

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