A CYCLING event in the new Forest has come under fire from residents claiming many entrants are inconsiderate to motorists and livestock.
Some 1,300 cyclists took to the road on Sunday, October 7 to take part in the New Forest 100, a non-competitive road event organised by UK Cycling Events.
Motorist Frances Baye said: “I was trying to overtake the cyclists as I was approaching Burley and it was virtually impossible.
“A group of cyclists refused to get into single file and continued to overtake each other, despite knowing there was a queue of traffic behind them.
“I am not against these cyclists enjoying the fresh air and getting fit but think consideration has to be the priority.”
A resident, who asked not to be named, said: “Despite these types of events not being classed as a race, the competitors are consistently in a hurry to pass other competitors at speed and in large packs.
“They can cause anguish to Forest stock and other cyclists, including children, who are not involved in the race, as well as cars and other vehicles.
“Last weekend was really the last straw with a ridiculous numbers of competitors.
“There were as many as four cyclists abreast on each side of the road; they were nearly crashing into each other at speed, going downhill, never mind the traffic trying to go up and down the road.
“What can we do about this?”
One of the world’s oldest conservation groups, the New Forest Association, said it was aware of the concerns and was in discussions with cycling groups to “find a way forward”.
Association chairman Peter Roberts said: “Cycling is a good healthy sport but some of the events impinge on the New Forest because of a lack of understanding of how the Forest works.
“We hope to help in the organisation of cycling events, so we can help ensure there is appropriate behaviour.
Way forward “Many people who enter think ‘great, a national park’ and are not aware how the livestock and animals work. We are considering the issues to find a way forward.”
A New Forest National Park Authority spokesman said: “The New Forest National Park Authority encourages responsible cycling in the New Forest.
“Even though there is no legal requirement for non-competitive cycling events to inform or seek consent from the highway authority, landowner or police, and the National Park Authority has no powers to regulate these events, the approach has been to work with event organisers and communities to try and find ways to address concerns.”
Director of UK Cycling events Martin Barden said: “Some 1,300 people took part in the New Forest 100, many of whom travelled from all over the country to take part, to experience the beautiful national park and assist the local economy in these difficult times.
“There are one or two people who live in the New Forest who believe they own the New Forest roads.
“The roads are public highways and cyclists have every right to cycle along them and get fit and enjoy the New Forest.
“The event on Sunday was a non-competitive event, with riders’ start times spread out from 7.30am to 10.15am.
“As per our terms and conditions, anyone who is deemed to be racing would be disqualified.
“We ask cyclists to ride considerately and in single file where possible, although riders are legally allowed to ride two abreast.”