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Organisers of Wiggle sportive criticised for not telling locals about event

Concerns come in same area as rider was forced to put her spooked and injured horse down

Residents in a village where a horse was put down after it was spooked by sportive riders have criticised organisers of a Wiggle-sponsored event which they say was not adequately advertised to local people.

Colin Streeter, from Down Street near Fletching in Sussex said that it was only after a local spotted an arrow sign and went to Google to find out what Wiggle was, that they discovered there would be another ride passing through the following day.

He told the Sussex Express: "The day involved some 400 cyclists taking to the lanes around Fletching. News of last week’s “Wiggle’ event was revealed to the local riding community by chance the day before when a resident came across arrows suggesting some kind of forthcoming activity and Googled Wiggle.

“They learnt the cycle event was the next day and an organiser said any passer-by could call a number appearing on the arrow signs. Two lines of text were on the signs but no more than three millimetres high, showing a mobile number but no indication of when the event was to take place, or timing.”

UK Cycling Events, who run a series of sportives on behalf of Wiggle, however said that they went to some lengths to make local people aware of the event.

A spokesman said: "The Police, County Council and Highways were all informed that this event was to take place in March of this year. A comprehensive event plan with route information is sent 6 months before an event to the local authorities and then re-issued one month before an event. This is something that is done as best practice and is not required as part of the current legislation of running a non-competitive event, such as a sportive”.

"There were no incidents on the Wiggle Haywards Heath Howler. A comprehensive briefing to all riders was given on the day on how to ride respectfully, when approaching horses, and this video was sent to all riders to watch prior to the event."

Last month we reported how a woman whose horse had to be put down after it was frightened by a group of sportive riders in Sussex said that cyclists had no respect for other vulnerable road users.

Jo Flew and her daughter Joanna were out for a horseback ride on June 23 when they happened upon the route of the Etape de Sussex (run by SRS events) along Daleham Lane.

When they came across about 20 cyclists, Jo's horse kicked Joanna's in fear and broke its leg, which later had to be put down. She said that although she had been aware that there would be cyclists in the area, she didn't know what time to expect them.

Mr Streeter said of the August 11 event, Wiggle's Haywards Heath Howler Sportive, run by UK Cycling Events: “I was surprised no advance notice was placed in local newspapers. Other local people - particularly anyone with limited mobility or possible walking with a small child - would not want to be out as they couldn’t get to the side of the road quickly enough. We are rather imprisoned and I wonder whether lanes are the right place for these events?”

He did say however that marshalling and signposting at junctions was better than it had been at the Etape de Sussex, but said he was concerned there might be another accident.

Deputy chair Peter Roundell agreed the council had no prior knowledge and added: “There was a lot of disruption and people could not get across the road to church on that day. I don’t know what one can do about it or whether they can be controlled but I certainly intend to ask the councils whether any permits should be sought.”

In Hampshire in May, we reported how local police were forced to issue a strongly worded warning ahead of a re-run of the Wiggle Spring Sportive, that they would not tolerate any attempts to disrupt the event, which on its first day was marred by bad weather and attempts by some local people to disrupt it.

Horses are often spooked by cyclists, especially when approached from behind.

It's advisable to slow right down, and even be prepared to stop. 

Call out if you think you might not have been noticed, and pass with plenty of room to spare.

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