The organisers of the New Forest 100 Sportive have defended themselves following accusations that they ‘vandalised’ roads by spray painting arrows. UK Cycling Events says it had permission to spray route markings at points where event signage had been removed or tampered with and says the paint used will wash away with rain.
The Advertiser and Times reports that an anonymous local resident was “horrified” to find yellow arrows on New Forest roads following the event on September 14.
“You can’t miss them, they are so fluorescent,” she said. “At first people thought they must be to do with road repairs, but when they found it was for a cycle event they were furious. One local said you can probably see them from outer space. They really are that bright.”
She complained to Hampshire County Council, a spokesperson for whom said: “No permission was sought by the organisers of this event to put these markings on roads. In the past, markings such as these have been biodegradable, so they fade and disappear in a relatively short time.”
The resident added: “What message are we giving to other visitors to the New Forest by allowing events to deface and vandalise our roads with bright orange paints which do not wash off? The markings are an eyesore.
“Leaving such markings in situ clearly sends a message that it is perfectly acceptable to deface the New Forest.”
A spokesperson for UK Cycling Events said that New Forest County Council Safety Advisory Group had given permission for route arrows to be added with temporary paint that would wash away with rain.
“When consulting with the New Forest County Council Safety Advisory Group ahead of the 14th September event, it was agreed with Hampshire Highways that should event signage be vandalised, removed or tampered with, that route markings would be sprayed on the roads at junctions to ensure we could deliver a safe event.
“This is a different approach to previous events where we have used road markings additions to signage as a safety precaution due to the regular interference with signage we were experiencing.
“Unfortunately, at a number of junctions event signage was removed and at some junctions re-directed and therefore we sprayed route markings at these junctions as was agreed, to ensure the safety of the riders.
“The spray used is temporary and will disappear with rainfall; however, as no rain is forecast we will in this instance remove the road markings at those junctions.
“All county councils are advised of our plans before an event, including how we plan to sign the route.”
In 2015, the New Forest Cycle Event Organisers’ Charter was introduced following incidents of sabotage, reports of bad behaviour by some sportive participants and problems caused by date clashes with pony drifts.
A 2017 report by the New Forest National Park Authority concluded the charter had resulted in good local awareness of potential issues and improved communication between organisers and other stakeholders, such as town and parish councils.