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Plans for two cycling events attacked by New Forest campaigners
CAMPAIGNERS have hit out at plans to hold two mass cycling events in the New Forest on the same day.
Thousands of riders are set to descend on the Forest on October 12, sparking fears from residents that the area will be hit by traffic chaos and other issues.
The two-day Wiggle New Forest 100, expected to attract about 2,000 riders, is due to take place on October 11 and 12.
But the CTC Wessex Cycling Gridiron event is scheduled to take place in the same area on October 12.
The clash, thought to be the first of its kind in the area, was revealed at the Court of Verderers in Lyndhurst yesterday.
New Forest Association member Brian Tarnoff said the Gridiron ride, described as “orienteering with bikes”, was due to attract as many as 1,000 entrants and warned the two cycle event routes would overlap.
Last night Cllr Maureen Holding said the rides would result in cyclists “saturating” the roads.
She added: “Organisers of mass cycling events are treating the Forest as a playground. The time is coming for legislation to sort this out.”
He said: “The ever-increasing frequency of these very large events shows there will no end to this worsening problem until a proper system to licence mass cycling in the New Forest is established.
“I will continue to exert maximum pressure on the relevant department to achieve this.”
A National Park Authority spokes-man said the Wiggle event, organised by UK Cycling Events, was being re-routed to prevent it conflicting with the Gridiron ride and a pony round-up taking place in Brockenhurst on the same day.
He added: “A new event notification system, linked to an online calendar, will soon be launched by the New Forest Safety Advisory Group.
“This, together with advance information about round-ups, will help avoid future clashes.”
Gridiron organisers said the change of route meant the clash “no longer constitutes a danger”.
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Cyclists taking part in previous events staged by UK Cycling Events have been accused of clogging the roads, shouting abuse at drivers and using village greens as toilets.
Organisers have responded to the criticism by cutting the maximum number of riders by 20 per cent and deploying more marshals.
But anti-cycling campaigners have tried to sabotage several events by throwing tacks across roads and removing signs designed to help riders.