Cycle events

The New Forest National Park Authority supports cycling in the National Park, whether for work or pleasure, to enjoy its special qualities. There is continued support for initiatives that encourage people to travel car-free to, and around, the National Park, as well as grants to local organisations.

The New Forest is also a working forest, with forestry, farming and equestrian activity on its narrow roads and tracks.

In recent years cycle events have become increasingly popular in the New Forest, with riders often following signed routes of between 20 and 100 miles. They vary in size and are run by a range of organisations including charities, cycling clubs and private businesses.

These events are not races and do not require formal permission. On road events are governed by sections in the Road Traffic Act 1988, Cycle Racing on Highways Regulations 1960 as amended, Highways Act 1980 and the Highway Code.

Management of cycling in the New Forest is not the sole responsibility of any one organisation:

  • The Forestry Commission is responsible for the upkeep of the network of waymarked gravel tracks on Crown Land (almost 50% of the National Park). Most of these are tracks designed for lorries removing timber after tree felling operations, but the Commission permit a network of them to be used for cycling in consultation with the Verderers. 
  • The Highway Authorities (Hampshire County Council, Wiltshire Council and the Highways Agency) are responsible for roads, traffic signs and road markings. This includes public rights of way but excludes private roads.
  • The Police are responsible for enforcing the law with regard to cycling (and driving) on the roads and the Forestry Commission is responsible for enforcing its bylaws.
  • The Public Events and Safety Advisory Group (SAG), run by New Forest District Council, is responsible for providing advice to event organisers and provides a list of known upcoming events. Members of the SAG include New Forest District Council, Hampshire County Council Highways, Hampshire Constabulary, Hampshire Fire and Rescue Service and South Central Ambulance Service.

Cycling Liaison Group

In 2013, members of the National Park Authority noted concerns amongst local residents about cycle events, particularly regarding the scale of some of the larger events and the behaviour of a minority of participants. The behaviour of a minority of local residents had also been unacceptable.

The National Park Authority owns no land, does not manage any tracks or roads and has no authority over other organisations.

However, the National Park Authority took the lead to help different organisations and interest groups to better understand each other’s views, recognise the benefits of cycling and find ways in which impacts of mass cycle events on the National Park and its communities can be minimised.

To help this process, the New Forest Cycling Liaison Group was formed in 2013. It was jointly convened by the National Park Authority and the New Forest District Council Public Events and Safety Advisory Group,. A full list of the organisations can be found in the Cycling Liaison Group's Terms of Reference.  

In February 2014, the Liaison Group unanimously agreed a New Forest Cycling Code which encourages cycling which is in keeping with the special qualities and purposes of the National Park -

The Liaison Group published a first draft of a Charter for cycle event organisers in April 2014. It set out how events can best be managed and accommodated in the New Forest’s special environment. Importantly it also confirms the central role played by the New Forest Public Events and Safety Advisory Group, which brings together the Highway Authority, District Council, the Police and others, and provides guidance on:

  • planning ahead to avoid clashes with other activities
  • liaising with local communities, landowners and organisations
  • advising participants in advance about safe and considerate riding
  • responsibilities of event organisers including effective marshalling, signage, litter picking and mechanisms for gathering feedback.

Comments on the draft Charter were received from members of the public and a range of organisations including parish councils.

At a public meeting on 26 June 2014, National Park Authority members resolved that because of the impact of large scale cycle events on New Forest communities, they would only support the Charter if it included a cap of 1,000 cyclists, and also that riders should wear rear numbers so they are more easily identifiable.

Local authorities and statutory organisations subsequently confirmed their support for the Charter, including the limit of 1,000 riders and the use of rear identification numbers, and a range of other comments and suggestions received since April 2014 were taken into account.

The final proposed version of the Charter was considered at the National Park Authority meeting on Thursday, 22 January 2015, when members confirmed their support, and agreed that it should promoted to cycle event organisers.

The success of the Charter will be monitored so that any necessary changes can be made. You can read the charter on the web page of the New Forest Public Events and Safety Advisory Group

Compliance with the Charter is voluntary; National Park Authority members hope that event organisers will be willing to follow it out of respect for other road users even if they don’t agree with it all.  

If you wish to provide feedback (positive or negative) about particular cycle events that you have experienced, please do so via the register of events on the webpage of the Safety Advisory Group; find the relevant event in the register, click ‘feedback’ and enter your comments. 

  1. Cycling
  2. Local grants
  3. Cycle events (you are here)
  4. Cycle events charter


image-fade-right image-fade-left