Fears 'someone could be killed' by speeding cyclists at Longslade Bottom in New Forest
WALKERS and horse riders fear “someone could be killed” by thrill-seeking cyclists racing up and down embankment paths at a popular New Forest beauty spot.
Bike riders are claimed to be using the area at Longslade Bottom, near Brockenhurst, as a “super challenge” to make it up and down the inclines in one go.
The warnings coincide with anger over the prolonged closure of a bridge which connects a path along the former rail embankment. It is forcing people to detour onto the steep slopes, posing difficulties for less mobile visitors.
To add to the problems, there are now fears about near-misses with cyclists on the path.
Christine Day, from New Milton, said: “They are supposed to dismount and walk up and down the paths but they don’t.
“Instead, they seem to view it as a sort of super challenge where they go really fast down one path so they can get up the next without stopping.
“It’s really scary when you are walking along and suddenly a bike is hurtling towards you. I fear someone could be killed by either being knocked over, or a cyclist coming to grief.”
Mrs Day said she and a friend also faced stampeding horses when a group of cyclists spooked them.
She said: “We had the horses in front of us and the cyclists rode up really fast towards them. The horses were spooked then, to make it worse, the bike riders started shouting and waving their arms around.
“The horses just took off in our direction. If we had not been able to jump out the way I think we would have been killed.
“Some cyclists using these paths don’t seem to care about anyone else at all.”
A horse rider recently revealed on social media that her mount had been scared by a speeding cyclist at the same spot and had thrown her off.
She said: “He was spooked by a cyclist hurtling down the railway embankment and he shot forward.
“I stayed on as long as possible before giving into the inevitable – my injuries made worse by holding on to him and being dragged along gravel.”
The woman was taken to hospital and later posted photos of bruises all over her body.
One mother commented that she had recently been for a walk with her toddler there but had been scared off by the cyclists.
Signs on both paths tells cyclist they should dismount.
The bridges have been closed off for five years after being judged to be unsafe for use.
A sign saying repair work is due to start on the bridge in “early 2022” has been defaced with the words: “When? 12th of Never.”
A spokesperson for Forestry England said that repairs had been delayed due to the pandemic and a “steep” rise in visitors.
They said it was having trouble finding contractors and assessing the sites for the approvals it would need.
But FE said it hoped to “progress the formal application soon” so work could begin.
The spokesperson added: “Like many areas of the Forest, this section of track and the ramps accessing it have always been shared by cyclists, walkers, horse riders and others spending time on the Forest. This will continue once the works have been completed.”