Yesterday, the New Forest National Park Authority voted on the new Cycle Event’s Organisers Charter. There were two amendments proposed which would have given the new charter the support of key cycling groups. These key cycling groups include Sustrans, CTC, cycle event organisers and local cyclists.
It should be noted that this charter has no legal standing.
In a display of blatant willingness to ignore facts and evidence, witnessed first hand, the proposed amendments were defeated on a vote by three votes to thirteen. This is why the press release below is carefully worded as follows – “All the key statutory organisations” as the reality is that the key cycling organisations have not backed the new charter.
It should also be noted that this charter has no legal standing, it is entirely voluntary. Cycle Event Organisers are free to ignore it, as they already follow the highway code and organise their events responsibly.
Looking at the facts and evidence surrounding cycling in the New Forest, it is clear that the new charter is both discriminatory and disproportionate. This was pointed out to the New Forest National Park Authority Membership at the meeting on Thursday 22nd January, but they chose instead to ignore the facts and evidence.
This is UK Cycling Events response:
UK Cycling Events along with British Cycling and other cycling event organiser are surprised and disappointed at the discriminatory approach the New Forest Park Authority have taken towards cyclists, in the New Forest Cycling Charter. ‘British Cycling’ cycling’s governing body is not supportive of this voluntary charter, we are supportive of their position.
In the meantime here is the press release from the NFNPA:
A charter to guide large scale cycling events in the New Forest has been supported by the New Forest National Park Authority.
All the key statutory organisations (police, highways, councils) and many other organisations in the National Park have backed the charter, which contains 30 clauses setting out best practice on organising cycling events in the New Forest.
Last year the National Park Authority joined with the District Council’s Safety Advisory Group (SAG) to set up a Cycling Liaison Group following unacceptable behaviour by a minority of both riders and residents and a rise in complaints about cycling events.
The Cycling Liaison Group agreed all but two clauses, one of which was a cap of 1,000 riders per day.
New Forest National Park Authority Chairman Oliver Crosthwaite-Eyre said: ‘The vast majority of cycle events are under this threshold and have been operating without any complaint for many years. The figure of 1,000 has been well received by parish councils and at recent New Forest Consultative Panel meetings – the Panel has 80 local organisations as members. The important thing is that these measures should enable all road users to go about their business as usual even when an event is taking place.
‘We have always said we have no powers to regulate events and the charter is voluntary. With the SAG we jointly set up the Cycling Liaison Group to help explore the common ground between polarised opinions and find ways in which they can be more easily accommodated in the National Park.
‘We hope that all event organisers will follow the Charter’s criteria even if they don’t agree with it all.’
The charter will be sent to all cycle event organisers. Events will also be considered against the charter’s criteria on a case-by-case basis by the SAG. The SAG website register of events has a feedback form for each event which will enable monitoring of the charter.
Mr Crosthwaite-Eyre said: ‘The charter obviously does not supersede the Highway Code but the New Forest is unique in that it is a working forest with forestry, farming and equestrian activity on its narrow roads as well as free-roaming animals. Much greater care than normal is needed when using our Forest roads.
‘Cycling is an important way for people to get around the Forest, whether for work or pleasure, and a great way to enjoy its special qualities. We welcome responsible cycling and in particular continue to support initiatives that encourage people to swap their cars for sustainable transport.’
The charter can be found here.
The SAG register of events is here.