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Another New Forest sportive criticised after horse spooked by riders 'encouraged to go too fast'

Cyclofanatic's Rattler event: participants told to try for a 'good time'...

Another New Forest cycling event has been criticised by local residents after a man said his horse was spooked by a group of cyclists riding fast and taking up the whole road.

It comes shortly after a woman whose horse had to be put down after it was frightened by a group of sportive riders in nearby Sussex said that cyclists had no respect for other vulnerable road users.

Alan Russell, who lives in Ringwood, said that his Sunday walk with his horse, and another on which a two year old was riding, could have ended in disaster when one cyclist came too fast around a corner while riding in the Rattler, organised by Cyclofanatic, two weeks ago.

He told the Salisbury Journal: “There is a sharp bend near the yard and the majority of cyclists were travelling so fast that the only way they could get around the corner was by taking up the whole of the road.

“One cyclist came around the corner so close and fast that he spooked the horse carrying the young child. We turned around and had to stand in the middle of the road to warn cyclists racing around the corner that there was a horse on the road, fearing a cyclist could career into the horse.

“Cyclists can ride in groups of up to 25 and I noticed that some of the groups were joining together to make even larger packs.

“It is only a question of time before there is a serious accident between cyclists and horses, cyclists and pedestrians or cyclists and cars.”

The newspaper made the point that given that riders were issued with timing chips and encouraged to go for a ‘good time’ on the Cyclofanatic website, that  they might have been tempted to ride faster than the conditions would normally allow.

A spokesman for Cyclofanatic told "Unfortunately, there seems to be an ongoing problem between cyclists and the equestrian society in the New Forest. We do warn all our riders to be careful when taking part in the Rattler, and have a list of rules that we issue in the rider brief. These rules are also on display at registration, then stressed further via a PA prior to people when they start.

I am very keen to work with any local groups to develop ideas and solutions so that everyone can enjoy the forest safely. I am also going to look at further ways to ensure our riders are aware of the situation with animals in the forest.

That said, I do also think that some of the New Forest residents will always have an issue with cycling events which is a shame. The statistics re. traffic accidents in the New Forest point largely to motor vehicles, not cyclists."

A New Forest National Park Authority spokesman said: “Ensuring all people are able to undertake activities safely is, of course, vitally important.
“As such the National Park Authority is working with more than 20 organisations, including cycling event organisers and equine groups, to ensure cycle events are safe for both participants and others, beneficial to the New Forest economy and welcomed by local communities.

“The Cycle Liaison Group first met in July and is due to meet again in September when it will consider a draft Cycle Event Organiser’s Charter.”
Despite the emergence of a cyclists vs. horses theme in recent months when it comes to sportives, it seems it’s not a universal view that cyclists are a problem.

In the comments beneath a Southern Daily Echo story about a New Forest pony killed by a car, readers were fairly united in their views as to the level of hazard each form of transport represents.

One commenter wrote: “I suspect the cyclists will still get the blame though! No one will say anything about the family cars that tempt the pomies onto the carriageway to feed them tasty morsels and lead the ponies into a false sense of security.”

Another said: “As an equestrian I find cyclists far more considerate than 'most' drivers.”

Yet another wrote: “Yet another New Forest pony that was NOT killed by a cyclists. It's quite clear which group of road users present the true hazard on New Forest roads.”


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