New blow to hopes of New Forest campaigners and cyclists
CTC has learned today (Thursday 22 January) that proposals designed with the spirit of both compromise and safety in mind have been rejected in the New Forest National Park Authority's (NFNPA) Cycle Events Organisers' Charter.
CTC, together with Sustrans had been actively involved with the Charter since the NFNPA launched it in 2014. Through their involvement they were instrumental in placing the Safety Advisory Group (SAG) at the centre of the process. As a result of their input, the Charter overall presents a balanced set of practices to help maintain harmony between all users and inhabitants of the New Forest.
However, despite CTC and Sustrans involvement, there were two outstanding issues in the Charter which came across as both discriminatory and disproportionate in their treatment of cyclists. These related to the imposition of a cap at 1,000 on the number of riders allowed to enter events and proposals to make riders in all events wear numbers both front and rear. Despite reservations on both these issues, proposed amendments were made by both organisations which took into account the views of New Forest residents and the NFNPA.
This seems like a total rejection of cycle groups’ willingness to engage and work with the NFNPA and those who in live in the New Forest towards an amicable solution."
Sam Jones, CTC Campaigns Coordinator
These amendments were rejected by a vote of 17:3 during a meeting which was described by one observer as a "depressing experience more for the complete lack of considered discussion by the members". Despite the cap being set at an arbitrary level with no evidence base, it was claimed that safety was paramount in the minds of those behind it, but as the same observer commented there was some "irony of rejecting an amendment that had the Safety Advisory Group determin[ing] any limit [and when]...there is no evidence in the form of accident statistics to suggest that the current events are a safety issue."
The issue of riders wearing identification numbers and the proposed amendment was not discussed.
Sam Jones CTC Campaigns Coordinator said:
“This is a real blow to community based cycle groups who organise events, not for profit but rather for the pure enjoyment of riding in a beautiful setting.
“The cap in cycling numbers, which the Park Authority mandated to be included in the Charter, was loosely justified on safety grounds. It is therefore mystifying and incredibly frustrating that our amendment which placed the Safety Advisory Group at the very heart of decision making for each and every cycle event was rejected. Instead, an arbitrary and discriminatory cap with no foundation in evidence will be implemented.
"CTC will now consider what steps we can take next.”
CTC's New Forest Cycling Week has been running since 1975 and is a rally for cycling families, small groups and individuals.