Horse riders and cyclists encouraged to 'Be Nice, Say Hi' in the Surrey Hills

If you‘re out on the trails or the road, then ‘Be Nice, Say Hi’!
Visitors to the Surrey Hills are being encouraged to ‘Be Nice, Say Hi’, as the Surrey Hills Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB) adopts the joint campaign by Cycling UK and The British Horse Society.

The two charities joined forces to launch a consideration and courtesy awareness message of ‘Be Nice, Say Hi’ to help cyclists and horse riders to pass safely last summer, as they believed better advice was needed for people cycling to understand how to overtake horses safely.

Rob Fairbanks, Surrey Hills AONB Board Director said:

“The Surrey Hills Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB) is the first area in the South East to take up the initiative. The campaign is particularly relevant in the Surrey Hills due to proximity to London and increased recreational pressures.

“We are thrilled to be collaborating with Cycling UK and the British Horse Society to raise awareness of shared access in our landscape and respecting the rights of all users.”

Lovers of the outdoors will soon notice the discreet message of “Be Nice, Say Hi” appearing on signposts across the region, however for more detailed information the charities have produced a downloadable leaflet and two short films.

Duncan Dollimore, Cycling UK’s head of campaigns said:

“Every time a cyclist encounters a horse, there are three brains involved: the cyclist’s, the rider’s and the horse’s. Many people aren’t familiar with horses, and there can be confusion on what they should do when overtaking on a bike. Cyclists may already know to pass wide and slow when it’s safe to do so – but they could still startle the horse unless the horse and rider are made aware of your presence.

“Generally, if a cyclist startles a horse, it is due to simple lack of awareness that a horse needs more time to react. This is why Cycling UK is pleased to be helping the BHS promote the consideration and courtesy message of ’Be Nice, Say Hi’ and is delighted to see it adopted in the Surrey Hills.”

Horses can react quickly when startled, so the two charities are encouraging cyclists to drop their pace and call out a greeting, giving the horse and rider time to react before overtaking wide and slow. By alerting the rider and horse to their presence, cyclists run less risk of the horse reacting, and reduce the risk of injury - not just to the rider and their horse, but also themselves.

Watch the video for roads 

Mark Weston, Director of Access at The British Horse Society said:

“We are thrilled to see the Surrey Hills Area of Outstanding Beauty (AONB) adopt the ‘Be Nice, Say Hi’ initiative. As vulnerable road users, horse riders, carriage drivers and cyclists face considerable dangers on our roads and the need for safer off road riding opportunities has never been greater. 

“By promoting the courtesy and awareness message of ‘Be Nice, Say Hi’ in the Surrey Hills (AONB) we hope that more riders and cyclists will have the confidence to pass one another comfortably and safely.”

The first sign was symbolically put up close to Mane Chance Sanctuary in Compton, Surrey. Founding trustee and actor Jenny Seagrove was pleased to see the campaign gaining traction in the area. She said:

“I am delighted to be a part of this initiative in Surrey and hope to see it taken up across the country. The welfare of horses is at the very heart of what we do at Mane Chance Sanctuary and I think the ‘Be Nice, Say Hi’ campaign should be applauded for considering the needs of both horses and humans as they share our beautiful countryside.”  

Watch the video for off-road trails 

Notes to editors

  1. Cycling UK, the national cycling charity, inspires and helps people to cycle and keep cycling, whatever kind of cycling they do or would like to do. Over a century’s experience tells us that cycling is more than useful transport; it makes you feel good, gives you a sense of freedom and creates a better environment for everyone.
  2. The largest equine charity in the UK, The British Horse Society is dedicated to education, equine welfare, protecting and increasing access to bridleways and equestrian routes, and safety for horse and riders. The Society’s thriving and active community of staff and volunteers are committed to improving the lives of horses everywhere.  Find out more at   
  3. The Surrey Hills Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB) is one of 46 nationally protected landscapes in the UK, having equal landscape status and protection to a national park. The Surrey Hills AONB was designated on 8 May 1958, which makes it the first AONB in southern England to be designated (the first was the Gower Peninsula near Swansea in 1956). The Surrey Hills AONB stretches across a quarter of the county of Surrey and includes the chalk slopes of the North Downs from Farnham in the west to Oxted in the east, and extends south to the deeply wooded Greensand Hills which rise in Haslemere. The Surrey Hills Board is a Joint Management Committee which is funded by Defra, the National Trust, Surrey County Council and the local authorities within the Surrey Hills area. For further information on the Surrey Hills please visit
  4. Mane Chance Sanctuary cares for 31 rescued horses on its site in the Surrey Hills. The purpose of the charity is to give horses an alternative role in society and visitors from the local communities - from the very young to the  very old, and of varying needs, visit the farm to spend respite time with the horses, or to partake in supervised work with them. Mane Chance also runs a Community Programme called Chance2Be which teaches young people who are need of a little help with life’s ups and down, the basics of mindfulness alongside the horses. The horses are at the very heart of the charity and any initiative that fosters consideration to these animals is applauded and supported.
  5. The ‘Be Nice Say Hi’ message grew from the work of mountain bike enthusiasts, including OpenMTB, Ride Sheffield and Peak District MTB, to improve relationships between trail users and is now endorsed by both charities, and the “Be Nice Say Hi” sign was created by Mark Etherington
  6. Official figures show cycling is one of the most popular activities for young people outside school, suggesting most people know how to ride a bike.
  7. ‘Be Nice, Say Hi’ badges are already in place along parts of the Pennine bridleway.

Press contact information

The national Cycling UK Press Office on 01483 238 315, 07786 320 713 or email

The British Horse Society PR team on 02476 840463 or Out of hours 07748 171882

Surrey Hills AONB Press Office on 07979 358 003 or email