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Letter: Forest trails are not as extensive as Forestry England says

SIR – Whilst I also condemn the creation of mountain bike ramps in Wilverley Inclosure (A&T, 28th May), I would disagree with the Forestry England (FE) spokesperson’s statement “we have an extensive network of approved trails”.

The "approved trails" represent less than 5% of the overall paths and tracks in the Forest and they generally go round in circles getting nowhere, with only one or two tracks actually linking habitations without using busy roads.

For example, you cannot cycle between the main two cycling centres of Burley and Brockenhurst without using roads where traffic frequently speeds at 60mph. Or try cycling up to Fritham from Burley off-road – whilst there are suitable gravel tracks, these are deemed ‘non-permitted’ by the verderers, so cyclists, including those with children, have to use roads instead.

FE have indeed tried to support off-road cycling for many years, but have been stymied all the way by an alliance of those protecting the ancient privileges of a minority.

The previous week’s A&T (21st May) reports on a driver who abused a horse rider. I’ve never seen a similar report on motorists who abuse cyclists in the New Forest – I guess, because this happens on a daily basis, it’s not news.

It is a prejudice like racism or sexism – drivers frequently shout obscenities at cyclists and use their cars as weapons to threaten and harm them.

So, despite using the most environmentally-friendly form of transport, cyclists are tolerated at best, not encouraged and bullied.

The convenience of the car has seduced our society.

David Orme,
New Milton

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