Call for laws on mass cycling events

First published in New Forest News

MASS cycle rides in the New Forest could spark calls for new laws to control the events.

National Park chiefs are threatening to lobby the Government if a proposed new charter fails to ease the tension between cyclists and locals.

Campaigners are also calling for the voluntary charter to be beefed up in the face of criticism from the public.

They say the number of riders taking part in the controversial sportives should be limited to 1,000, and entrants should have numbers on their backs so they can be identified if they flout the rules.

The issue was raised at a meeting of the National Park Authority (NPA), which has been instrumental in drawing up the charter.

Speakers calling for the NPA and other organisations to take a tougher stance included councillor Richard Frampton, who described the document as “toothless”.

District councillor Maureen Holding said: “If we need legislation we should go for that.”

But a report to members said UK Cycling Events, which stages the sportives, had already cut the number of entrants by 20 per cent.

It added: “The charter has taken several months to develop and deserves to be given a chance to become established. It can be amended in the light of experience.

“Another option is to lobby for a change in legislation.”

The report said the Licensing Act 2003 excluded outdoor cycling events and added: “There is a strong argument that such legislation should be brought up to date.”

NPA members also agreed that the authority should investigate the possibility of installing 20 bike hire stations in the forest for family cyclists.

Some speakers complained that the scheme would attract even more cyclists to the area but councillor David Harrison supported the idea.

He said: “The money will go back to the Government and a great opportunity will be lost.”

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