A joint initiative launched by the British Horse Society (BHS) and Cycling UK is aimed at improving safety for riders and cyclists.

The “Be Nice, say Hi” campaign has been designed to raise awareness of “courtesy and consideration”, to help both groups ensure they pass each other safely, on and off roads.

It includes a downloadable leaflet and two short videos, encouraging cyclists to slow down and call a greeting when they encounter ridden horses, to give both equines and their riders a chance to react.

“By alerting the rider and horse to their presence, cyclists run less risk of the horse reacting, and reduce the risk of injury — not just to the rider and their horse, but also themselves,” a joint statement from the BHS and Cycling UK states.

The collaboration follows concern on all sides caused by a video released in May, showing a cyclist competing in a triathlon undertaking a horse and rider at high speed, which “demonstrated the need for better advice for people cycling on how to overtake horses safely”.

“Every time a cyclist encounters a horse, there are three brains involved: the cyclist’s, the rider’s and the horse’s,” said Cycling UK head of campaigns Duncan Dollimore.

“Many people aren’t familiar with horses, and there can be confusion on what they should do when overtaking on a bike. Cyclists may already know to pass wide and slow when it’s safe to do so – but they could still startle the horse unless the horse and rider are made aware of your presence.

“Generally, if a cyclist startles a horse, it is due to simple lack of awareness that a horse needs more time to react, which is why Cycling UK is pleased to be helping the BHS promote the consideration and courtesy message of ‘Be nice, say Hi’.”

BHS director of safety Alan Hiscox said the BHS is “thrilled” to be working with Cycling UK.

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“Both groups are vulnerable road users and will benefit from working together to share the roads,” he said. “We are encouraging riders to respond positively to cyclists who pass with consideration and reciprocate their courtesy.

“Horses are flight animals and may react to anything they are unsure of. By promoting the ‘Be nice, say Hi’ message, we hope more cyclists will appreciate the potential risk they pose. If all road users are considerate and mindful of one another we can reduce the number of incidents between horses, cyclists and vehicles”.

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