AN events company has banned 18 cyclists from its future events after they broke the rules, including urinating in public.
And Fordingbridge-based UK Cycling Events, which organises the controversial New Forest Sportives, has promised to abide by a new charter drawn up to mitigate problems caused by large-scale events in the forest.
Martin Barden, of UK Cycling Events, said: “A small number of riders out of the 2,000 participants per day taking part in the New Forest Spring Sportive were banned from the event. Even though toilets were provided, and our marshals requested they were used, a handful of participants choose not to use them, leaving us no option but to disqualify them from the event.”
He added: “We believe this was an appropriate measure when you balance the location of the incident was outside a hotel and the individuals involved were requested to use the facilities provided by our marshals but these requests were ignored.”
The remaining riders were banned for inconsiderate cycling after it had been made clear to all riders that blocking the road by riding more than two abreast, or dropping litter would not be tolerated. The new charter for cycle events in the forest has been compiled by a group of more than 20 organisations.
It has been posted in draft form on the New Forest National Park Authority's website, and the authority is waiting for feedback from parish councils, authority members and New Forest District Council before the final version is published.
The draft document aims to ease local tensions by reducing the impact of cyclists riding through towns and villages and offers advice on planning cycle events, liaising with local communities, landowners and organisations and advising participants about appropriate behaviour.
But the document does not impose any limit on the number of riders taking part in the events, which often attract more than 2,000 riders.
The New Forest Equestrian Association, which has been an outspoken opponent of the events, says the document does not go far enough.
Chairman Tony Hockley said the number of cyclists taking part in each event should be limited to 1,000.
He also called for riders to wear numbers on their backs to make them more identifiable.
He added: “We hope NPA members, parish councillors and others will continue to demand a charter that’s much stronger on the size of events.”
The NPA says it could use its planning powers to limit the size and impact of future events if organisers fail to comply with the guidelines.
NPA’s head of recreation management and learning Nigel Matthews said: “Obviously the charter does not supersede the Highway Code but the New Forest is unique in that it is a working forest with forestry, farming and equestrian activity on its narrow roads and tracks and free-roaming animals. Great care is needed to avoid unnecessary conflict and ensure the safety of all.
“A number of forest organisations, cycling organisations and cycle event companies are members of the Cycling Liaison Group and have helped draw up the charter, so we are confident that event organisers will find it useful and implement its recommendations. We will review the charter after a year.”
To view the draft charter for cycle event organisers go to www.newforestnpa.gov.uk/cycle-charter.