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Draft Cycle Events Charter for the New Forest Published

by Nick Gregory

GB Flag

It seems not a week goes by at the moment without cycling events in the New Forest hitting the headlines. Most recently sportive organisers, UK Cycling Events banned 18 riders for infringements of rules at the Wiggle New Forest Spring Sportive, an event that also saw 20 riders puncture after saboteurs threw tacks on the road.

A New Forest charter for cycle event organisers has been compiled by a group of over 20 organisations. The Cycling Liaison Group was set up following concerns about the impact of mass participation cycle events on the New Forest National Park.

The charter was drawn up during 2013 and the early part of 2014 in response to the ongoing and escalating tensions between sportive organisers/riders and a small minority of locals who are unhappy with the status quo, and the "unacceptable impact" sportives have on the New Forest and its local communities.

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Nevertheless, in real terms, everything proposed by the charter is already being implemented by most event organisers. Martin Barden of UK Cycling Events said: "We were heavily involved in helping to shape the Charter as part of the Cycling Liaison Group. There is nothing in the Charter we are not doing currently and we intend to comply with the Charter going forward."

Nigel Matthews, Head of Recreation Management and Learning at the National Park Authority, said: "The National Park Authority convened this group to encourage responsible cycling which is in keeping with the special qualities and purposes of the National Park. The draft Charter confirms the central role played by the New Forest Public Events and Safety Advisory Group - which brings together the Highway Authority, District Council, the Police and others - through which individual events are assessed in advance and monitored."

The good news for cyclists however, is that in its introduction the charter expresses what a great place for cycling the New Forest is: "With many miles of relatively quiet roads and few steep hills, the New Forest is ideal for cycling. It is a great place to leave the car behind and enjoy the beautiful landscape and fresh air - and benefit from healthy exercise."

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More details of what it contains can be found below:

  • Consider carefully how you will ensure your event is safe and enjoyable and start planning at least 12 months in advance
  • Start cyclists in groups, with appropriate gaps in between
  • Use feed station venues that will easily accommodate the volume of cyclists expected, away from passing traffic (e.g. village halls)
  • Relevant signage at specific locations
  • Have appropriate numbers of trained, proactive static and mobile marshals, especially at junctions and feed stations
  • Commercial events could consider introducing a contribution per participant (from the entry fee) that is given to a New Forest charity
  • When publicising the event, take opportunity to remind participants about the special nature of the New Forest and how we can all help care for it.
  • Ensure that pre-event and registration briefings include reference to responsible cycling, especially following the Highway Code and the New Forest Cycle Code. Give specific instructions not to race. 
  • Make arrangements for litter disposal at venues and feed stations, and stress the importance of not dropping litter anywhere along the route.
  • Through effective marshalling ensure that action is taken against participants who contravene event rules (e.g. banned from future events for unlawful racing or cycling in a peloton).
  •  Remove all signs and their fixings promptly after the event and litter pick any obvious examples of litter from the event. 

To view the draft charter go to www.newforestnpa.gov.uk/cycle-charter.