The New forest is a great place to explore by bike, but there are some common and not so common things to be aware of. The list below is not exhaustive, but is born out of miles of riding in the New Forest.
- Horses, ponies and donkeys wander onto the road at will, though often right in front of you! Keep a sharp lookout ahead and be prepared to take evasive action. This will mean knowing what is behind you as well.
- Don’t wear headphones.
- Cattle grids are like ice in the wet. When crossing one, do so at right angles, go in a straight line and don’t turn whilst crossing. Coming off on a cattle grid won’t be pretty.
- When riding early morning, keep a look out for deer. If you see one, there are likely to be others nearby.
- When approaching horse riders from the rear, shout “cyclist” loudly (unless you have a bell – in which case use that) and then pass slowly with a wide a gap as is safe to do so. If you don’t alert them, the horse can be startled when you overtake.
- You can ride two abreast, but if a car is behind you, go single file and let them pass more easily. It’s safer and saves aggro.
- Going round a blind bend might mean meeting a car coming the other way. Or a horse. Or a pig.
- It’s up to you, but wearing a helmet could save your life.
- Give your bike a quick check to make sure everything is tight and working as you would expect, brakes, quick releases and tyres.
- Wear gloves or cycling mittens. If you come off, these will save your hands.
- Tell someone your route.
- Take time to enjoy your surroundings!
The New Forest now has an official Cycle Code:
- Ride positively and well clear of uneven road edges but with consideration for other road-users. To allow vehicles to overtake safely, leave gaps for them to pull into and move into single file when necessary and safe to do so. Never ride more than two abreast.
- Off road, cycle only on the waymarked network of Forestry Commission tracks, bridleways, byways, restricted byways and designated routes.
- Use this map to plan your route, check for route closures, and try to be off Forest tracks by sunset.
- Be polite to other cyclists, motorists, pedestrians and residents.
- When passing people and animals, use your bell or call out a warning and allow them plenty of room. Be prepared to stop if necessary.
- Do not drop litter or feed the animals; human food and litter are a danger to them.
- Close gates behind you so the animals don’t stray
- Respect the quiet of the Forest.
- Pass animals slowly and to one side if possible.
- Take extra care near horse riders; a kick or fall from a horse could be fatal. Be prepared to stop. Use your bell or call out a friendly warning well in advance. When it is safe, pass wide and at walking pace, to one side only. Look out for any reaction from the horse.
- Keep to a safe speed, on and off road, particularly on narrow lanes, steep hills and bends. Look out for pot holes, poor surfaces and cattle grids.
- Look out for and obey safety signs. Do not pass large vehicles and trailers until you know it is safe to do so.
- Ensure you are visible by wearing bright or reflective clothing. Use lights after dark and in poor daytime visibility.
- Avoid the use of earphones.