A NEW Forest enthusiast has slammed a cycling event planned for April, fearing that “4,000 Lycra-clad lemmings” will be zooming round the villages and scaring the livestock.
Anita Sibley, who runs the Vizzit New Forest website, says she is “most concerned” about the Wiggle New Forest Spring Sportive, to be held for the fifth year on April 13 and 14, with routes of up to 86 miles around Downton and Lymington.
She said: “When similar events have taken place, cyclists ride four or five abreast on our narrow New Forest roads, often aggressively and with little or no concern for other road users.
“Bunching (riding closely in a group) is popular because it improves speed, as does undertaking cars.
“Although the organisers state this is not competitive, the cyclists are attempting to outdo their personal bests so, in effect, are racing themselves. If this is not a ‘competitive’ event then I would expect participants to adhere to the New Forest Cycling Code.
“Entrance fees and sponsorship mean each event is generating an estimated £1million for organisers.”
Organiser UK Sporting Events says on its website: “Although all our rides are non-competitive events most people still like to know how well they've done.
“With this in mind we will time each participant’s ride. When you complete your ride your time will be calculated and these timings, along with the timing award you achieved, will be displayed on the website.
“Each rider receives a timing award of bronze, silver or gold, depending on their average speed.”
Mrs Sibley added: “These huge events are putting local residents’ lives in danger.
“How, for example, would an ambulance or fire engine reach a New Forest village in time if there were 4,000 cyclists blocking our roads?
“I’ve asked the New Forest NPA to report on its accountability and protocols for these large cycle events. We need to ensure events are safe for pedestrians, livestock, drivers and cyclists.
“They also need to be adequately publicised and policed. Many local residents are frightened to drive while these events take place.”
She added: “Our New Forest agencies seem to be toothless tigers and powerless to stop this carnage.
“Which one of them will have the creativity and tenacity to plug this dangerous but lucrative loophole and save us New Forest residents from being invaded once again by a group of Lycra-clad lemmings?”
At the time of going to press, UK Cycling Events was unvailable to comment.