Horse riders are getting in the way of cycling reform as they demand to be included in a blueprint for cycling.
More than 1,500 equestrians have written to the Department for Transport asking that they should not be banned from cycle lanes, which will be protected by wider segregation from traffic.
They say these horse and cycle lanes should be made of softer materials, which would be better for horses’ hooves, but slow down cyclists.
They also want the Highway Code to be rewritten to drop guidance that says riders “should not take a horse on to a cycle track”, according to the Sunday Times.
The DfT is now having to respond to these requests, delaying the cycling blueprint yet further.
The British Horse Society is behind the campaign, running a template letter on its website, which has led to nearly half of the cycling blueprint consultation responses being dominated by horse riders.
The society’s letter said that “routes being developed for walking and cyclists” should be “made available for equestrian use”.
It stated that 4,052 horse riders were admitted to hospital after being injured in 2013/14 compared with 2,820 cyclists.
It added that: “It seems strange that the government does not want to achieve the same for equestrians at the same time.”
Ralph Smyth, head of infrastructure at the Campaign to Protect Rural England, said: “Investing in safer horse riding won’t increase productivity in the way safer cycling can, such as by helping people get in and out of our increasingly gridlocked market towns. But it shouldn’t be difficult to ensure all riders can benefit from giving rural areas their fair share of the nation’s resources.”
Mark Weston, director of access at the British Horse Society, said: “Equestrians desperately need safe provision for the same reasons as walkers and cyclists: many roads are no longer safe due to the speed and volume of traffic.”