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Cycling code of conduct launched for New Forest events
THEY are at the centre of a bitter row questioning the future of mass cycle rides in the New Forest.
Controversial events such as the Wiggle rides have sparked fierce debates between organisers and Hampshire residents trying to protect the forest's rural way of life.
But cycling groups, conservationists, protestors and local authorities, have secured a major compromise after creating a New Forest Cycling code.
As previously reported the protestors claim the mass events - attracting up to 3,000 people - are causing unacceptable noise, damaging the environment and causing a menace to other road users in the National Park.
Tempers flared earlier this year during the Wiggle in April when someone sabotaged the event by placing tacks on the track at Boldre - puncturing some tyres.
Campaigners also vandalised around 1,000 route signs and angry motorists drove slowly to create a rolling roadblock.
Subsequent Wiggle events have passed off peacefully but police have also launched an investigation into whether the events are breaking the law by causing a public nuisance after complaints by villagers that cyclists are treating parts of the Forest as a public toilet.
The landmark code was drawn up by the Cycling Liaison Group following months of discussions with more than 20 organisations.
It features an 18-point agenda for biking both on-and off-road in the National Park to protect the environment and wildlife.
• Strictly following the Highway Code, route maps and instructions to minimise impacts.
• Never riding more than two abreast, and strictly single file on narrow roads and tracks.
• Taking care when passing vehicles - especially larger ones with long trailers.
• Passing animals slowly and taking extra care near horses.
• Minimising noise, being polite to residents and not dropping litter.
New Forest National Park Authority recreation management and learning head Nigel Matthews, who chairs the group said: “This is a significant and welcome achievement following a great deal of careful thought and input from numerous organisations.
“In relatively few words, the code highlights the main aspects of cycling within the unique environment of the Forest about which we want to raise awareness.”
The liaison group is also working on a charter for event organisers and next meets in February and aims to finalise the charter by the spring.
Group members include British Cycling, CTC Hampshire Cycling, New Forest District Council, the Equine Forum, New Forest Tourism Association and the National Trust.
The group also includes Martin Barden, of UK Cycling Events, which organises the Wiggle ride. He declined to comment when contacted by the Daily Echo.
Log on to newforestnpa.gov.uk/cycling-code to view the code.
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