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Sportive cap of 1,000 riders would only affect handful of events, claims New Forest National Park Authority

Parish councils propose limiting numbers of entrants as controversy over mass participation events continues

The New Forest National Park Authority (NFNPA) claims that placing a cap of 1,000 riders on sportives in the area would only affect a handful of events – but they would be the ones which attract most controversy.

It says that most opposition to mass participation events is connected to ones with more than 1,500 participants, reports the Daily Echo. Those would include events such as the Wiggle New Forest Spring Sportive, which has been targeted by saboteurs repeatedly in recent years.

The authority plans to introduce the cap within its Cycling Charter, although as a voluntary code, it would not be binding on event organisers.

Earlier this year, the NFNPA said it could lobby for a change in the law so that sportives would be regulated by statute, as road races are.

It told the Daily Echo that the 1,000-rider limit had been put forward by parish councils at so-called ‘quadrant meetings’ where issues related to the New Forest are discussed, and that the issue had also been raised with bodies such as the Highways Agency and the Forestry Commission.

The NFNPA said: “Some organisations have suggested a limit as low as 500 and others would prefer there to be no limit at all. Most complaints about cycle events have been received when there have been more than 1,500 riders.

“We believe that so long as individual cyclists ride considerately and are released in groups with suitable gaps in between, a limit of 1,000 would enable other road users to go about their business safely and with minimal inconvenience.

“The limit would affect only a small number of mass cycling events, while enabling others such as the [women-only] Cycletta and also the Gridiron [organised by CTC Wessex], which has been running successfully for over 20 years to continue as they are,” it added.

Another event that could be affected by a cap on numbers is the Wiggle New Forest Autumn Sportive, which like its spring counterpart is organised by Fordingbridge-based UK Cycling Events.

It too has been subject to attempted disruption by some locals who are opposed to mass participation events.

Opposition to sportives and the anti-cycling feeling they generate was cited as one of the reasons behind the NFNPA’s decision in August to scrap a proposed £2 million cycle hire scheme aimed at families visiting the national park.

It planned to use the money instead on initiatives such as upgrading a road in the New Forest, but last month the Department for Transport rejected two of the six proposed schemes, meaning that £1.5 million of that money needed to be returned to the government. 


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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