NFDC Cabinet meeting, Appletree Court, Lyndhurst,Hampshire
Wednesday 3rd April 2013 – Anita Gresham Hale
Thank you Chairman
Cycling is a healthy and popular leisure pursuit and a mode of transport used by both residents and visitors. But on and off road mass cycle events in their current thinly guised competitive format are unsafe and unsustainable. ***Thousands of Sportive cyclists with timing chips on their helmets and with virtual pacing partner technology on their bikes will be furiously pedalling around the forest on 13th/14th April busting a gut to achieve a record time. Their results will be posted collectively on the organiser’s website and timing awards given. If this was a race the organisers would have to meet stringent safety criteria and pay for race insurance, road closures and a police presence. The spirit of these Sportives sits firmly with the event organisers’ bottom line; however it is the local council tax payers that are saddled with the problem. **One Sportive organiser is quoted in Cycling Weekly as saying there were “suicide donkeys” on Blissford Hill. The article goes on to say that it is the animals not the cars that are the hazard in the New Forest. Such statements filter down and adversely influence cycling behaviour which subsequently affects safety.
Until we have legislation that correctly classifies these events as races we need a co-ordinated and comprehensive approach. Disappointingly the NFDC Safety Advisory Group appears reluctant to post cycle events on its Public Events Register and none of the other six major New Forest cycle events are yet listed. One easily implemented dynamic solution is to develop a cost effective online reporting system where the public can report incidents and where all other New Forest agencies are notified when one occurs. The present scattergun system of consultation and co-operation is weak, disparate and dangerous.
I would ask NFDC on behalf of local council tax payers to exert its influence over all other New Forest agencies to implement this workable solution to protect New Forest residents and visitors in the interim. This would underpin safety and give our agencies unmatched clarity on how unsafe these hazardous mass cycle events are and illustrate how many New Forest residents are abused and prevented from going about their daily business whilst they are taking place.
Thank you Chairman