SIR – I share Mr Berry’s joy at the sight of families cycling to improve their health (A&T Letters, 19th June).

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The pandemic has shown how critical keeping fit is; overweight people suffered badly from the virus – damaging lives and straining the NHS.

Public bodies have a duty to facilitate healthy activities and the New Forest should deliver enhanced cycling opportunities.

New Forest cycle routes are not a network, often going nowhere, forcing riders onto roads, creating unnecessary risk – many will not put their children in danger and not cycle.

This forces visitors to use cars, increasing congestion, pollution and animal fatalities. The verderers should publish how many miles of new routes they have created since introducing restrictions 30 years ago and how many miles will be added each year in the future.

This is an opportunity to create safe and sustainable cycle routes between villages.

Since the verderers severely restrict cycling, yet allow horse riders total access, they should publish independent, scientific data proving 500kg, metal-shod horses and riders cause less damage than a 100kg bike and rider with soft tyres.

Everyone understands some areas need special protection, due to nesting birds or to prevent damage to the land. But restrictions should apply to all, not just cyclists.

National parks promote cycling and provide challenging trails that enable riders to see landscapes in a non-polluting way. The verderers force everyone down a small number of paths with extremely limited challenges, failing to meet the needs of many who wish to engage in this healthy, environmentally-friendly, low-cost pursuit.

Perhaps a lawyer could seek a judicial review on the basis that the laws are discriminatory, that the verderers have failed to prove that cycling causes more damage than horse riding, and that they are failing to facilitate healthy, non-polluting, safe activities for all.

Nigel Vaughan,
Wootton

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