ANGER over the increasing number of weekend cyclists visiting the New Forest could end in violence, it has been claimed.

The Commoners’ Defence Association (CDA) has accused cyclists of posing a danger to other road users, some of whom have been “frightened and abused” by large groups of people on bikes.

CDA chairman Graham Ferris said: “The roads are effectively obstructed and confrontations leading to a breach of the peace are likely.”

The association, which represents the owners of New Forest ponies and other animals that roam the area, is calling for a crackdown on cyclists.

Dr Ferris raised the issue at the monthly Court of Verderers in Lyndhurst.

He said: “Commoners are increasingly concerned about the explosion in cycling, both casual and organised, and the apparent unwillingness of the authorities to take muchneeded action.

“The situation on the roads, particularly at weekends, is already critical.

“Organised races, time trials and ‘iron man’ competitions result in huge numbers of cyclists travelling silently at speed on narrow country lanes – at great risk to residents and livestock.”

Dr Ferris added: “Off-road cyclists are being encountered far from the established cycling routes at any hour of the day or night.

“This represents a major intrusion into the muchvaunted tranquillity of the Forest. Groups of cyclists at night with bright lights, shouting loudly to each other, is a level of disturbance that neither commoners’ livestock nor wildlife can be expected to tolerate.

“The Forestry Commission should instruct its keepers to enforce the by-laws and take action against persistent offenders.”

A Forestry Commission spokesman said the organisation supported cycling, which it regarded as a healthy and sustainable form of transport.

However, he said the commission was working with other members of the New Forest Cycle Working Group to produce a code of conduct for cyclists.

Last month the issue was raised at a meeting of the New Forest National Park Authority.

Members complained that tourists were cycling along busy roads, with children as young as seven or eight struggling to keep up with their parents.

But cyclists hit back, saying they made the roads safer for people and animals by encouraging drivers to slow down.