Extension for New Forest routes granted as Forestry England told to get tough on cyclists

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cycling routes new forest
Forestry England was told to come up with a plan to tackle off-track cycling

FORESTRY England has been granted a year’s extension to keep open approved New Forest cycle routes after the verderers demanded increased efforts to tackle “out of control” cycling.

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FE, which had requested three years, said part of the action plan presented to verderers during negotiations would involve recruiting volunteers and engaging cycle hire shops.

The verderers warned that any further extension beyond the 12 months would require FE to “toughen up” its ideas on the issue.

As reported in the A&T, before agreeing to any extension the verderers demanded further details on how Forestry England will tackle off-track cycling amid claims it is disturbing wildlife and damaging habitats.

During the December meeting of the Verderers’ Court, FE Deputy Surveyor Bruce Rothnie outlined an action plan to “mitigate” and “manage” the impact on the New Forest.

It includes communicating messages about responsible cycling on the national park authority and Forestry England websites and through targeted social media posts.

He said both NPA and Forestry England rangers would continue to patrol on foot and bicycles to engage with cyclists, asking them to stick to permitted routes, and explaining why off-track cycling is damaging to the environment.

Some cyclists would also be asked to complete questionnaires to gauge their understanding of where cycling is permitted.

Mr Rothnie continued that Forestry England will also work with cycle hire shops and local cycling organisations to encourage responsible riding.

He revealed that by using GPS and other data, targeted ranger patrols will be planned at hotspots for off-track cycling.

This information will enable Forestry England to fully assess any damage to the environment, leading to potential additional signage where necessary.

Cycling network maps will also be updated this year and information will be included in the New Forest Essential Guide publication.

It emerged Forestry England also hopes in future to increase the use of staff and volunteers to help manage cycling and improve signage in key locations, such as car parks.

However, the plans for managing cycling were described as “feeble” by Verderers’ Court member Anthony Pasmore, writing in his New Forest Notes column in the A&T last week.

He said: “We are not dealing with family parties or small urban children, innocently straying off the permitted routes through a lack of understanding, but with gangs of hardcore bikers determined to ride where they please, disturbing the peace and cutting up the Forest.”

Following a debate, the verderers agreed to a one-year extension to the waymarked cycle network.

They warned Forestry England it would need to “toughen up” its ideas on tackling the problem before a further extension was agreed.

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7 COMMENTS

  1. Could some evidence be provided please of the ‘gangs of hardcore bikers, out of control cycling and problem’. All such emotive language.

    Articles like this are purely opinion based and stoke bias – possibly due to self interest.

    Maybe an independent comparison between the impact of cyclists, dog walkers and horse riding on the environment would give a clearer picture for all readers to understand.

    A campaign to encourage all users of the forest look after our beautiful environment would get much more buy in than this unfounded attack.

  2. It has to be challenged that this all consuming hatred of cyclist is becoming completely out of hand. The use of the word gangs is extremely emotive and deliberate to attempt to cause a level of outrage among non cycling folk.

    I would also question where is your evidence. This is all anecdotal from a few grumpy old dog walkers and commoners. I have not seen groups of cyclist out at all this year. Mainly because of covid.

    A better strategy would be to reduce the stock levels by half back to a more historic norm. The stock walking on tracks and paths makes huge impact on the soil structure. But no real independent unbiased study has been done and anybody suggesting such a thing would be shouted down as anti commoner.

    Perhaps a side effect of BREXIT would be the reduction in subsidy for animals that are literally money generating pets and cost a huge amount of public money to fix the damage they do.

    Forestry Englands suggestion they are going to use GPS and Other data to target is sinister at the very least and suggests a targeted campaign of harassment is about to begin against an individual group in our society.
    How have they obtained this data? What right do they have to use it in this way.

    Finally although cyclist do ride off road in the forest, which is their legal right, just like the horse riders and dog walkers, I would suggest the commoners and FE have to take a long hard look at themselves and think very hard about what the will do when they have driven the cyclists off and the forest is still a cesspool of dog and horse faeces and mud caused by over grazing and mismanagement of this so called ancient right.

    This really will be the goose that kills the golden egg.

  3. Yet again the privilidged unelected minority throwing their weight around and denying others the same rights they award themselves. Horse riding (including commercial pony treking) is allowed yet cycling on established trails apparently causes all the damage. Never mind the environmental impact of commercial forrestry and the rampant over grazing of the past 5 years.
    The Verderers need to publish the scientific evidence for their ban. It simply does now wash for any form of Government to restrict the peaceful enjoyment of public land without significant independent data to substantiate it. In the meantime there are many historic rights of way across the forest which should be enjoyed by all to ensure they are not lost forever.

  4. I too am fed up with the cyclists. Rushing past so they scare me when I am walking the dogs. And this is on the designated paths so it must be worse in the forest.

  5. In other news : Ten animals killed in fatal fortnight on New Forest roads

    Yet the verderers, whoever they are, continue to obsess about a few bikes.

  6. This is ridiculous. The Verderers own no land and their only power over the Forestry Commission is a veto on ‘recreational facilities’ which arguably doesn’t even apply to permissive cycle routes. Is Antony Passmore the New Forest equivalent of Trump? A raging, maniacal narcissist who spouts nonsensical hate to feel powerful?
    Maybe New Forest cyclists need to organise a mass trespass.

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