New Forest ride rerouted over safety concerns

Terrifying (to Forest residents) two-way cycle traffic avoided

The route of a CTC ride in the New Forest has been changed as a result of safety warnings over a clash with a sportive this coming Sunday.

Last week, the New Forest Safety Advisory Group (SAG) called on the organisers of the Wiggle New Forest 100 Sportive and the CTC New Forest Gridiron 100 not to hold their events on the same day unless they can ensure that there is no clash between routes and timings.

The route of the CTC event has been changed so that riders from the two events will not travel in opposite directions on the same road at the same time, a situation the SAG felt would give local drivers dangerous conniption fits.

Wiggle New Forest 100 organiser Martin Barden criticised the SAG for issuing a "premature" press release about the clash that he said just heightened tensions over cycling in the area.

On its website, CTC Wessex said it only realised the extent of the clash on September 23.

“We have been in regular communication with UK Cycling Events since then, unfortunately they are unwilling to make any changes to the Wiggle event.

“So, as we could not agree any sort of compromise, we (with the help and cooperation of the village halls and WI's who make our event possible) have agreed to change our route in the interests of safety."

The new Gridiron route runs in the same direction as the Wiggle sportive and organisers have taken out much of the section where the two routes previously used the road in opposite directions.

Martin Barden, director of Wiggle sportive organisers UK Cycling events thanked the Gridiron organisers for changing their route.

He told the Daily Echo's Katie Clark: “Although we would have liked to have adjusted our route, it was unsafe for us to match the direction of the original Gridiron route”, he said.

“This route was in a clockwise direction meaning the majority of turns would have been right hand turns across a lane of oncoming traffic which is not as safe in our opinion.”

He added: “The only shame is that the Safety Advisory Group issued a premature press statement last week further heightening the tensions in the New Forest towards cycling.”

Chairman of the New Forest Safety Advisory Group, James Knight, said: “We’re pleased that the organisers have acted on our recommendations to ensure that their events can take place as safely as possible.

"The SAG has an important role in advising event organisers regarding the safety of their event in the interest of everyone taking part, as well as the local community.

"Our concerns have been lessened although the public should still be aware that congestion may occur and should take extra care when travelling in the area.”

Acknowledged by the Telegraph as a leading cycling journalist, John Stevenson has been writing about bikes and cycling for over 30 years since discovering that people were mug enough to pay him for it rather than expecting him to do an honest day's work.

He was heavily involved in the mountain bike boom of the late 1980s as a racer, team manager and race promoter, and that led to writing for Mountain Biking UK magazine shortly after its inception. He got the gig by phoning up the editor and telling him the magazine was rubbish and he could do better. Rather than telling him to get lost, MBUK editor Tym Manley called John’s bluff and the rest is history.

Since then he has worked on MTB Pro magazine and was editor of Maximum Mountain Bike and Australian Mountain Bike magazines, before switching to the web in 2000 to work for CyclingNews.com. Along with road.cc editor Tony Farelly, John was on the launch team for BikeRadar.com and subsequently became editor in chief of Future Publishing’s group of cycling magazines and websites, including Cycling Plus, MBUK, What Mountain Bike and Procycling.

John has also written for Cyclist magazine, edited the BikeMagic website and was founding editor of TotalWomensCycling.com before handing over to someone far more representative of the site's main audience.

He joined road.cc in 2013 and these days he lives in Cambridge where the lack of hills is more than made up for by the headwinds.

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