A CYCLING event company has been accused of vandalism after spraying bright orange navigation arrows on New Forest roads.
Hampshire County Council said it is now investigating the incident as they say no permission was given for the direction markers to be painted for the New Forest 100 Sportive ride although the organisers claim it was.
A Fritham villager who came across the arrows following the event on 14th September said she was “horrified” to see what had been done.
The ride was organised by UK Cycling Events as part of its Super Series. The sold-out event saw 200 people pay £40 each to take part.
The resident, who wanted to remain anonymous, said: “You can’t miss them, they are so fluorescent. At first people thought they must be to do with road repairs, but when they found it was for a cycle event they were furious.
“One local said you can probably see them from outer space. They really are that bright.”
She has complained to HCC which confirmed to the A&T it had not been consulted about the arrows by the cycling company.
It is now trying to contact UK Cycling Events to determine whether the paint used is biodegradable before taking further action.
An HCC spokesperson said: “No permission was sought by the organisers of this event to put these markings on roads. In the past, markings such as these have been biodegradable, so they fade and disappear in a relatively short time.”
On UK Cycling Events’ Facebook page, one rider congratulated organisers on their “excellent signage” for the New Forest ride.
The woman who found the arrows said she hopes public money and time is not spent removing them from the 100-mile route.
She said: “The organisers of this event have displayed a reckless disregard for the Forest, its delicate eco-structure, beauty and livestock, by painting arrows and crosses all over the roads.
“I thought the unique landscape of the New Forest was supposed to be cherished and protected. Sadly conservation, ecology and protection seem to have been replaced by commercialism, exploitation and profit.
“The organisers of such events clearly care only for the money they stand to make with no thought or respect at all for the area they are using.”
The arrows near Fritham are along the road to Stoney Cross and the junction of Milkham Inclosure.
The resident added: “What message are we giving to other visitors to the New Forest by allowing events to deface and vandalise our roads with bright orange paints which do not wash off? The markings are an eyesore.
“Leaving such markings in situ clearly sends a message that it is perfectly acceptable to deface the New Forest.
The organiser describes the 100-mile ride as a “must do” on every cyclist’s “tick list.”
The company claim they had permission from HCC to spray the arrows on the road and will now remove them.
In a statement to the A&T they said: “When consulting with the New Forest County Council Safety Advisory Group ahead of the 14th September event, it was agreed with Hampshire Highways that should event signage be vandalised, removed or tampered with, that route markings would be sprayed on the roads at junctions to ensure we could deliver a safe event.
“This is a different approach to previous events where we have used road markings additions to signage as a safety precaution due to the regular interference with signage we were experiencing.
“Unfortunately, at a number of junctions event signage was removed and at some junctions re-directed and therefore we sprayed route markings at these junctions as was agreed, to ensure the safety of the riders.
“The spray used is temporary and will disappear with rainfall; however, as no rain is forecast we will in this instance remove the road markings at those junctions.
“All county councils are advised of our plans before an event, including how we plan to sign the route.”