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Fresh row in New Forest as council's safety group calls on mass rides to revise routes

Body cites safety concerns over Wiggle New Forest 100 and CTC Wessex Gridiron 100, taking place on 12 October

A body chaired by New Forest District Council (NFDC) is calling on the organisers of two cycling events due to take place in the area the weekend after next not to hold their events on the same day unless they can ensure that there is no clash between routes and timings. In July, the same body, the New Forest Safety Advisory Group (SAG), confirmed to the New Forest’s Verderers’ Court that the two events in question would not clash.

The SAG co-ordinates the activities of organisations including NFDC, Hampshire County Council and the emergency services to provide safety advice to organisers of events in the area, which besides sports might include music festivals, fireworks displays and street parties.

In a statement, it says that “amid safety concerns” it is concerned about what it believes is a clash on Sunday 12 October between the CTC Wessex Gridiron 100 randonnée event, with 1,000 participants, and the second day of the Wiggle New Forest 100 event, in which up to 1,900 riders will participate.

It says: “There are fears that cyclists travelling in opposite directions at the same time on the Gorley road from Fordingbridge to Ringwood, and on Ornamental Drive, Brockenhurst, to Roger Penny Way in Bramshaw, will cause severe traffic congestion and safety issues, as well as a negative impact on the communities where the routes clash.”

The document was circulated on Twitter today, initially by local cycling campaigner New Forest Cyclist, and has come to light after a weekend on which four cyclists were taken to hospital with serious injuries after collisions with motor vehicles in the New Forest.

Some users of the social network pointed out that the minutes of July’s session of the Verderers’ Court, which has jurisdiction over a variety of issues in the New Forest, revealed that the clerk to the court advised it “that the New Forest Safety Advisory Group has confirmed that the Gridiron event and the Wiggle will not clash.”

The same session of the court also heard that with a livestock drift due to take place in the New Forest on Sunday 12 October, UK Cycling Events had amended its route so as to remove any conflict, and the company was thanked for its co-operation.

In its latest statement, the SAG’s chairman, James Knight, said: “Due to the representations we have received from members of the group, we can only advise against both events taking place on the same day with the routes and timings as currently advertised.

“The SAG is committed to helping promote safety for events that are held in the district. The organisers themselves have a duty to liaise with each other to resolve the issue and we have strongly encouraged them to do so,” he added.

The SAG stops short of calling on the organisations not to use those roads – rather, it wants them to ensure both events aren’t in the same place at the same time.

But adding to the ire of local cyclists on Twitter is the fact that Rhinefield Ornamental Drive is, as we reported last week, the road that the New Forest National Park Authority intends to resurface using £1.275 million of the money earmarked by the Department for Transport to develop cycling in the area.

That money was intended to be used, among other things, for a cycle hire scheme in the New Forest which has now been scrapped.

Martin Barden of Wiggle New Forest 100 organisers UK Cycling Events told “We are currently working with CTC Wessex the organisers of the Gridiron to minimise any impact of our events running on the same day.”

Simon joined as news editor in 2009 and is now the site’s community editor, acting as a link between the team producing the content and our readers. A law and languages graduate, published translator and former retail analyst, he has reported on issues as diverse as cycling-related court cases, anti-doping investigations, the latest developments in the bike industry and the sport’s biggest races. Now back in London full-time after 15 years living in Oxford and Cambridge, he loves cycling along the Thames but misses having his former riding buddy, Elodie the miniature schnauzer, in the basket in front of him.

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