Action urged over ‘out of control’ off-track cyclists in the New Forest

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The New Forest waymarked cycle network covers around 100 miles of Crown land

THE verderers have demanded a plan to deal with “out of control” cyclists as part of an agreement to extend permission for the New Forest’s waymarked bicycle network.

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Forestry England, which manages the district’s Crown lands, recently approached the verderers for official consent to extend access to the network of tracks for a further three years.

However, concerns about off-track cycling have led verderers to demand further answers before agreeing to the extension.

In a report to the verderers’ committee, member Anthony Pasmore highlighted the widespread issue of off-track cycling combined with a perceived lack of any enforcement action.

He suggested that Forestry England could address the issue by invoking a byelaw forbidding all cycling on the Forest except on the waymarked cycle network.

The issue was debated by the verderers, and several court members expressed frustration at Forestry England’s apparent inability to tackle off-track cycling which has been blamed for disturbing wildlife and damaging habitats.

The Deputy Surveyor, Bruce Rothnie, suggested that there could be opportunities for extra funding from the planning system, operated by the national park authority, which would enable the organisation to deploy additional staff to tackle the issue.

The existing New Forest waymarked cycle network covers around 100 miles of Crown land and in addition there are many more bridleways and small country lanes which can be used for cycling.

Verderers have also expressed concerns that a number of bridleways finish
straight onto open Forest which could be exacerbating problems.

A spokesperson for Forestry England said: “The Deputy Surveyor spoke at the virtual Verderers’ Court in November, asking for the verderers agreement for the existing network of waymarked cycle routes on gravel tracks on the crown lands for a further three years 2021 to 2023 inclusive.

“The next step is for Forestry England to put forward proposals to the verderers with details of mitigation work to manage the impact of cyclists not using the current waymarked cycle network.”

The verderers are set to consider the requested extension of the way marked cycle route during their next meeting on 16th December.

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8 COMMENTS

  1. This is such a frustrating issue, the Out of date Verderers need take a closer look at the reason many cyclists go “off piste”. It is because the current network doesn’t link up! The said bridleways which open onto the forest often open onto perfectly suitable tracks which could be part of the network but apparently the bikes would cause more damage than all the walkers and horse riders that already use do, which is rubbish a ridden horse will cause more damage than 10 bikes. On that note most off piste cyclist’s are following tracks not riding over Heather and open forest and disturbing wildlife any more and likely much less than horse rides galloping over the forest and not following the tracks! Please note I’m not anti horse riders just that cycling can not be blamed for what horse riders are doing and not getting blamed for. If you’re stopping bikes you should stop horses and people walking (especially with dogs off the lead crapping everywhere) being allowed on the open forest.
    What is needed is for the Verderers to allow some investment in improving the network to allow all users to be able to access the forest in a safe way, even if this means a little bit of initial disruption. The Forest will bounce back, it managed after it was concreted and bombed during WW2!

  2. Try cycling a bike on some of the roads around the new forest, I dare you! See how long you last. The forest itself is one of the few places cyclists have where they can feel safe and enjoy themselves. The disturbing wildlife issue is utter nonsense as well. Cyclists are some of the most responsible and friendly people you’ll ever meet. More cycling and less driving needs to be encouraged. In all areas.

  3. Most of the tracks that I see whilst cycling in the forest are from 4×4’s, quad bikes and motor bikes! And how about the huge vehicles used to fell the trees? They cause more harm than 1000 cyclists.

  4. Out of control cyclists, or an antiquated institution that is not fit for purpose? Cars churning-up the verges, cars killing the animals – nbarely a peep about any of that. So much anti-cycling sentiment from the verderers. More cycle-friendly trails clearly needed. Bridleways that finish in open forest – join them up!

  5. This is a national Park. Why do the verderes who only represent the land owners who live there, and hence have a very biased view, get to decided who can enjoy the forest?

  6. The Verders and the establishments around them provide many attributes that the Forest needs. The claims of damage, however, are wrongly laid at one door, and the wider question of the overall impact of Forest users is the true questions. Marginalisation of one user group is not correct. A mature conversation where “ we just don’t want it” is removed from the table will benefit all. Making cycling access inter community will massively reduce the problem.

  7. The majority of cyclists using the NF as a place to roam and exercise are using tyres that are wider that those found on road-bikes – the reason is that they offer more grip and the upside of that is that they do not cause much damage to the ground as they have a relatively large foot print. Horses on the other hand exert a huge amount of pressure on to the ground – google shows us that it can be as much as 500 psi when galloping – and that’s not with a rider sat onboard either. . a cyclist on the other hand with mountain bike tyres exerts around 40 psi. . . so now tell me that cyclists are causing too much damage to the forest trails and tracks. .. . Maybe the verderers need to re-think and prove that it’s cyclists who are the problem and not the horses causing the issues. …

  8. In the area of forest in which I live, its the increase in the number of ponies and particularly cattle which is causing devastation to the forest lawns, not the occasional cyclist. Many areas are churned by hooves to resemble a somme battlefield. Perhaps the verderers and commoners should look closer to home to see where damage stems from.

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