Cyclists and horse riders are being urged to be more considerate of each other’s needs after an incident in Gloucestershire at the weekend when a 10-year-old girl fell off her pony after it was apparently startled by a group of bike riders.
Grace Burton dislocated her knee when her pony was spooked in the incident which happened at around 10am on Saturday morning, reports the Gloucestershire Echo. The newspaper says that the incident prompted a “heated debate” on its Facebook page.
Grace’s father, Chris Burton, had said that a group of cyclists sped past, five or six abreast, causing his daughter to be thrown from her pony in the village of Teddington.
But Simon Worsley of Cheltenham and County Cycling Club said the bike riders were fewer than originally reported, and they were riding two abreast.
"The group I was in numbered around 20,” he said. ”As soon as we saw the horses we slowed right down as we always would.
“The pony carrying the girl veered to the left and she came off (thankfully on the grass verge not the road).
"Our ride leader did a great job if calming the girl down and our whole group stopped for at least 15 minutes out of concern for the girl, before her companions advised us to ride on."
Mr Burton had said: "I don't want to stop anyone enjoying themselves, but I would just say to them, you need to be more careful."
He added that he wanted to meet with cyclists to discuss how people riding horses or bikes could share the road safely.
"We need to look at ways of keeping the highways safe for everybody,” he explained. "The debate online seems to have focused on the fact that I got the number of the cyclists wrong.
"When you're running up the road because your daughter has been injured, you don't stop to count them.
"I wasn't trying to point the finger. Let's have a discussion about how we can make this safer."
"We do not want to penalise or discriminate against cyclists,” he added.” We just want to raise concerns that more accidents will occur if large packs of bikes continue to use small village roads."
Many horses are easily spooked by bicycles, especially when approached from behind, with one school of thought being that they are taken unawares because unlike with a motor vehicle, they cannot hear their approach.
If you see horses being ridden on the road ahead, you should cur your speed to a minimum, call out “bike approaching” or something similar, and give the animals as wide a berth as possible – easier said than done on some roads, and of course you should be mindful of your own safety if there is oncoming traffic.
In our experience, most horse riders will acknowledge consideration given to them by cyclists – one thing both have in common is they are among the most vulnerable of road users.
The British Horse Society has published a code of conduct for horse riders and cyclists to provide “guidelines to ensure equestrians and cyclists co=exist harmoniously and safely when in close proximity.” You can find it here.
Simon joined road.cc 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.