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New Forest cycling rule-breaker could be tracked by investigator

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A PRIVATE investigator could be used to identify an off-track New Forest cyclist who posts regular videos online of his “illegal activities”.

The contentious issue of off-track cycling was raised at a recent meeting of the verderers committee when it was said the individual behind the footage was clearly in breach of Forestry England bylaws which permit cycling only on the approved network of tracks.

After revealing the police would not help identify the individual because of data protection regulations, the verderers suggested identifying the perpetrator by engaging a private investigator.

The meeting minutes revealed that the verderers’ “serious concern at the lack of control of cyclists who do not stick to the waymarked cycle network was once again expressed in the strongest terms”.

The issue of electric bicycles used on the cycle network was also discussed after it emerged that Hale-based company Likie Bikie was promoting escorted electric bicycle rides through the national park.

Forestry England’s deputy surveyor Bruce Rothnie defended the company as “strongly” promoting the New Forest cycle code and sticking to approved tracks, adding that electric bicycles were not legally defined as motor vehicles.

However, verderer Anthony Passmore told the meeting he was concerned electrically assisted bicycles were capable of significant speeds and could endanger others using the tracks such as families, dog walkers and equestrians.

The verderers argued their consent for the waymarked cycle route did not extend to electric bicycle users.

They said that the waymarked cycle network routes were not rights of way and therefore Forestry England should have the power to dictate which type of bicycles could use them.

There has been concern in the Forest that off-track cycling is escalating with damaging consequences, with Forestry England recently threatening to seek an injunction to prevent a large scale cycling event from taking place.

It was suggested that a Public Space Protection Order could be sought to deal with a range of issues facing the New Forest including verge parking, illegal cycling, wild camping and other antisocial behaviour.

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