Not in our front yards, Surrey residents tells cyclists: Locals complain that they are being 'kettled' in their homes

 

They run through some of the most picturesque villages and countryside in England, but the narrow lanes along the rolling hills of Surrey and the ancient woodlands of the New Forest are leading to conflict, according to some local residents.

Angry letters complaining about "Lycra louts" flouting the rules of the road have appeared in the local press, and councillors are accusing the two-wheeled brigade of shattering the tranquillity by thundering through on organised rides. Claims have even been made of cyclists defecating on village greens.

Ian Huggins, from the Esher suburbs, is leading the anti-cycling campaign, and more than 3,000 people have signed a petition to "Stop Surrey being turned into a cycle track". Mr Huggins, who runs a clay pigeon shoot, said the rural lanes that featured on the 2012 Olympic cycle race and are now in the annual Prudential RideLondon event have become "no-go areas" for motorists as the county's beauty spots are "smothered" with cyclists.

"Rural Surrey's Olympic legacy is for the roads to be used by thousands of cyclists at a time for any event they want to organise. We've been totally conned," he said from his home, which sits on the 100-mile route.

Surrey County Council and RideLondon organisers insist that residents were properly consulted and point out that last year's 16,000-rider event helped raise £7m for charity. The ballot for this year's RideLondon has now closed with more than 80,000 people hoping for one of the expected 20,000 places.

Outside Mr Huggins's suburban home three cyclists are changing a punctured inner tube. One is Yanto Barker, one of Britain's top professional cyclists. "The whole situation [with local residents] is very much 50/50," he said. "There are good drivers and bad drivers, just like there are bad cyclists and good cyclists."

Mr Barker is quick to get back on the road, leaving Matt Barbet, a presenter on Daybreak, struggling with an inner tube: "It's complete nimbyism. The roads aren't just for cars, they are here to be shared."

Mr Huggins claims residents are being "kettled in their homes by 300 cycling events" since summer 2012. Surrey County Council says it has now asked the Government to take action on hundreds of unregistered events in the county, while the Department for Transport said it is "updating the regulation" surrounding cycling events on public roads.

British Cycling, which governs the sport in the UK, rejects Mr Huggins's figures, pointing out that of 2,000 registered cycle events last year, only 44 took place in Surrey.

In the New Forest, there are fewer organised events but tensions are arguably higher. Last year, metal tacks and mud were thrown on the road in two separate cycling events.

Brockenhurst Conservative councillor Maureen Holding said that cyclists put off high-end tourists with foul language and are "deliberately slowing down motorists" on narrow lanes, and had been seen "literally defecating on a local green".

The situation is so bad that the New Forest National Park Authority has issued a code of conduct for cyclists and put event organisers "on notice" that it may ban so-called sportive rides.

At the headquarters of the National Park Authority, deputy chairman Oliver Crosthwaite Eyre said that he wants to encourage riders to come to the park for "quiet enjoyment". However, he said that the speed and behaviour of the cyclists, coupled with the frequency of the events, was causing "enormous upset".

This upset has led to Hampshire Police opening an investigation to see if two rides established by Wiggle, a major cycle-kit supplier, and run by UK Cycling Events have caused a public nuisance.

Event organiser Martin Barden said that the events, which attract thousands of riders, are properly organised and provide plenty of facilities.

At the Fox and Hounds pub in Lyndhurst, in the heart of the New Forest, manager Matthew Price is a big fan of the cyclists who pack out his beer garden every summer for "pints and pies", but local horse rider Chloe Hughes, who works behind the bar, is more cautious.

"Most [cyclists] are fine and slow down," she said. "But you can tell the cyclists from outside the New Forest because they don't slow down, and they spook the horses as they fly by."

Martin Balk, secretary of the New Forest Cycle Club, said, "New Forest ponies don't have a problem with cyclists.... It's the riders of other horses and some of the residents who are highly strung."

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA year of political gossip, levity and intrigue from the sharpest pen in Westminster
Life and Style
Suited and booted in the Lanvin show at the Paris menswear collections
fashionParis Fashion Week
Arts and Entertainment
Kara Tointon and Jeremy Piven star in Mr Selfridge
tvActress Kara Tointon on what to expect from Series 3
Voices
Winston Churchill, then prime minister, outside No 10 in June 1943
voicesA C Benson called him 'a horrid little fellow', George Orwell would have shot him, but what a giant he seems now, says DJ Taylor
News
i100
News
An asteroid is set to pass so close to Earth it will be visible with binoculars
news
Arts and Entertainment
Benedict Cumberbatch has spoken about the lack of opportunities for black British actors in the UK
film
News
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Austen Lloyd: Private Client Solicitor - Oxford

Excellent Salary : Austen Lloyd: OXFORD - REGIONAL FIRM - An excellent opportu...

Austen Lloyd: Clinical Negligence Associate / Partner - Bristol

Super Package: Austen Lloyd: BRISTOL - SENIOR CLINICAL NEGLIGENCE - An outstan...

Recruitment Genius: Sales Consultant - Solar Energy - OTE £50,000

£15000 - £50000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Fantastic opportunities are ava...

Recruitment Genius: Compute Engineer

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: A Compute Engineer is required to join a globa...

Day In a Page

Syria crisis: Celebrities call on David Cameron to take more refugees as one young mother tells of torture by Assad regime

Celebrities call on David Cameron to take more Syrian refugees

One young mother tells of torture by Assad regime
The enemy within: People who hear voices in their heads are being encouraged to talk back – with promising results

The enemy within

People who hear voices in their heads are being encouraged to talk back
'In Auschwitz you got used to anything'

'In Auschwitz you got used to anything'

Survivors of the Nazi concentration camp remember its horror, 70 years on
Autumn/winter menswear 2015: The uniforms that make up modern life come to the fore

Autumn/winter menswear 2015

The uniforms that make up modern life come to the fore
'I'm gay, and plan to fight military homophobia'

'I'm gay, and plan to fight military homophobia'

Army general planning to come out
Iraq invasion 2003: The bloody warnings six wise men gave to Tony Blair as he prepared to launch poorly planned campaign

What the six wise men told Tony Blair

Months before the invasion of Iraq in 2003, experts sought to warn the PM about his plans. Here, four of them recall that day
25 years of The Independent on Sunday: The stories, the writers and the changes over the last quarter of a century

25 years of The Independent on Sunday

The stories, the writers and the changes over the last quarter of a century
Homeless Veterans appeal: 'Really caring is a dangerous emotion in this kind of work'

Homeless Veterans appeal

As head of The Soldiers' Charity, Martin Rutledge has to temper compassion with realism. He tells Chris Green how his Army career prepared him
Wu-Tang Clan and The Sexual Objects offer fans a chance to own the only copies of their latest albums

Smash hit go under the hammer

It's nice to pick up a new record once in a while, but the purchasers of two latest releases can go a step further - by buying the only copy
Geeks who rocked the world: Documentary looks back at origins of the computer-games industry

The geeks who rocked the world

A new documentary looks back at origins of the computer-games industry
Belle & Sebastian interview: Stuart Murdoch reveals how the band is taking a new direction

Belle & Sebastian is taking a new direction

Twenty years ago, Belle & Sebastian was a fey indie band from Glasgow. It still is – except today, as prime mover Stuart Murdoch admits, it has a global cult following, from Hollywood to South Korea
America: Land of the free, home of the political dynasty

America: Land of the free, home of the political dynasty

These days in the US things are pretty much stuck where they are, both in politics and society at large, says Rupert Cornwell
A graphic history of US civil rights – in comic book form

A graphic history of US civil rights – in comic book form

A veteran of the Fifties campaigns is inspiring a new generation of activists
Winston Churchill: the enigma of a British hero

Winston Churchill: the enigma of a British hero

A C Benson called him 'a horrid little fellow', George Orwell would have shot him, but what a giant he seems now, says DJ Taylor
Growing mussels: Precious freshwater shellfish are thriving in a unique green project

Growing mussels

Precious freshwater shellfish are thriving in a unique green project