Letter: Cyclists in the New Forest facing serious confrontation

There appears to be strong opposition on both sides of the argument as MP calls for ban on cycling events in the New Forest.

Cyclists in New Forest:

We always welcome a Letter to the Editor to share with readers. If you have something you’d like to share, get in touch. This letter from Alan Bennett from Northwood.

Proposals by the New Forest MP to ban cycling events in the area (see Daily Echo report) have hit the news again after vandals tried to sabotage an event this weekend by placing drawing pins in the road and vandalising over 1,000 safety signs (see Daily Echo report).

Although this may not appear to be Island related, many cyclists from the Island travel over to New Forest to take part in these events. Ed

You know the old adage that everyone likes a bike ride?

Well that is not true in the New Forest, where the local MP for New Forest East has been putting up posters in local Public Houses and businesses against mass cycle events, inciting locals to get their cameras and get out on the course and take pictures and report cyclists flouting the Highway Code!

Inciting confrontation between cyclists and locals
Dr Julian Lewis put up posters inflating the amount taking part by 50%, and accusing cyclists of speeding. He has created overnight a hitherto never before experienced confrontational situation between cyclists and locals.

His chum, Dr Tony Hockley stated cyclists are posing an ‘immense risk’ to horses and riders in the New Forest, despite there being no documentary evidence to support such claims.

No evidence to support actions
Dr Lewis is also using his position as an MP to petition Government ministers to regulate cycling events in his constituency, even though he has no evidence to support his action.

Hang on though, is he not up for re-election soon?

Image: Matt Belton under CC BY 2.0

Monday, 15th April, 2013 12:00pm


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Any views or opinions presented in the comments below are solely those of the author and do not represent those of OnTheWight.


  1. Emma Spencer-Goodier

    15.Apr.2013 12:30pm

    And yet the traffic through the forest is a nightmare. Perhaps they should be advocating less cars & more bikes!

  2. mike starke

    15.Apr.2013 3:47pm

    I am a cyclist, a walker and a motorist and my experience is that the majority of all three groups get on well with each other. As with everything, a minority of all three groups can be a pain in the proverbial.

    However, tit-for-tat tittle-tattle of “crimes” on all sides are not helpful, when passions are inflamed enough by opportunist politicians, as is the current case in the New Forest.

    I and many other Island cyclists enjoy the annual Cyclists Touring Club Gridiron rally over there. It’s like our home-grown randonnee and Cycle The Wight events that are such a success each year, too.

    In more than a decade, I have not found any hostility during these events. They are well organised and bring significant tourist cash into the respective areas.

    However, over here we have not been helped by a the recent sprouting of discriminatory signs along the Shide to Cowes section of Sustrans National Cycle Network 23, as it is designated.

    Just a year ago, council leader David Pugh officially opened the newest section of this route, hailing it as fitting tribute to the council’s commitment to cycling as a “method of transport and a way to keep fit”.

    Twelve months on and County Hall has put up notices discriminating against cyclists by ordering a 10mph limit and decreeing that pedestrians have “priority”(it has been admitted to me by the council that the speed limit is entirely unenforceable).

    Sustrans, which poured more that £100,000 into this stretch of its route 23, has a rather more discreet sign at Shide saying it is for “Walkers, cyclists and sometimes horses” and urges us all: “Respect other users.”

    I have no difficulty with that sensible approach. I am campaigning to get County Hall to share my view and remove their ludicrous new signs. Perhaps other OTW-ers would care to join me.

    • The new signs along the ‘dog poo track ‘ no sorry the route 23 Cycleway, are advisory according to the Highway Code. They also don’t specify whether the 10mph is intended to be a minimum, maximum or recommended speed!

  3. Bystander

    15.Apr.2013 4:18pm

    Would you condone the cycling priority notices which were vandalised at Ryde over the weekend Mike? As I suspect the culprits share your views.

  4. mike starke

    15.Apr.2013 4:30pm

    Bystander; I respectfully refer you to the second and final paragraph of my original posting. I would only add that I have invested in, well, a high-viz vest (£24.99 on the interweb)reading: “POLITE notice THINK BIKE”. These items of clothing were reported on in the national press and I am hoping wearing one will do more good than defacing signs.

  5. Bystander

    15.Apr.2013 4:54pm

    You didn’t answer the question, and someone has already taken it upon themselves to remove at least one of the signs you protest about. How exactly are pedestrians supposed to ‘think bike’ when they approach at speed from behind?

  6. mike starke

    15.Apr.2013 5:14pm

    With continued respect, Bystander, I would ask you to re-read the paragraphs I referred to. Add, if you will, the first paragraph, too, of my original comments.

    If you really cannot see answers to both your questions therein, then, I’m sorry, I probably will not be able to help you further.

  7. Jess Hart

    15.Apr.2013 8:46pm

    I’m no cyclist – petrol head by choice, well diesel – sailor for pleasure, but for crying out loud – politicians campaigning against cycling in a beautiful rural area? As I understand it, it’s a National Park, so surely uses like cycling should be condoned not condemned. By laws and rules maybe, if there are problems, but banning cycling events? Plain daft.

    Rural areas – be it New Forest, our own Island, South Downs, whatever, are for sharing and access, especially designated national parks. Politicians playing to the motoring lobby see differently I guess, but what about the tourist spend in the guest houses, pubs and cafes? People would miss that.

  8. Mark L Francis

    16.Apr.2013 9:36am

    What is it with people & bicycles? I also drive a car, ride a bike & walk on a regular basis and the amount of whining about how people are being terrorised by cyclists is unbelievable. I think I am right in saying that more people (1 in Sandown)have been killed on the Island by hit & run mobility scooters than cyclists.

    This Tory MP obviously has nothing better to do or is barking mad.

  9. forestbloke

    20.Apr.2013 5:13pm

    To Emma S-G. Yes, let’s start with the 1,000 plus cars coming onto the Forest for no other reason than to transport bikes to these events each time. Last year wiggle warned participants that there are only 850 parking spaces at Brockenhurst college and the refreshment stops which are provided by a firm whose nearest depot seems to be in Essex

  10. Victor Meldrew

    19.May.2013 10:09am

    As someone who has to drive in the Forest on a daily basis (life is tough) the unthinking selfish car drivers are so much more of a menace. I’m constantly passed by cars exceeding the 40mph limit, the sudden stopping to gaze at the gee-gees, inconsiderate roadside parking – cyclists, on the other hand are, on the whole, considerate.

    We seem to co exist well on the Island with no 40mph limit. I cannot understand this dopey, stupid electioneering by vested interests.

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