Police, cyclists and walkers join hundreds of riders for ‘incredible’ road safety campaign

  • More than 400 riders and carriage drivers took to the roads across the country at the weekend to educate drivers on passing horses safely.

    A total of 53 Pass Wide and Slow awareness rides took place on Sunday (14 April), supported by police forces, cyclists and walkers.

    Pass Wide and Slow safety campaign creator Debbie Smith told H&H it is “amazing” how the campaign has grown, with the awareness rides now in their third year.

    “The response from riders concerned about safety on the roads has been incredible,” she said. “We only had 15 rides last year — we already have about 20 organisers who want to do it again next year.

    “The organisers worked really hard and I’ve received a huge amount of support from Diane Ford who assisted on the Facebook group. What’s nice is the ride organisers have really come out of it feeling proud of themselves and what they have achieved and that’s lovely. There’s been a lot of questions along the way, but they’ve stuck through it and they’re determined to raise awareness.”

    Rides varied in length and number; one of the largest groups hosted 23 participants while in some areas of the country riders went out individually to mark the occasion.

    Claude Felix Equine Photography

    “The rides were all about creating awareness on the roads on how to pass horses safely ato keep them and other road users safe and they were a great success,” said Debbie.

    “The majority of rides went off without a hitch with the exception of one car driver who endangered himself, other vehicles and riders by overtaking when it was not safe to do so but most drivers were amazing and many people stopped to video and wave as the riders went past.”

    Nikki Ryan, who organised a ride in Greater Manchester for the second year running, told H&H the campaign makes a “massive difference”.

    Nikki’s ride involved 10 riders and four walkers, and was supported by Greater Manchester Police.

    “I ride out every day and I have a couple of miles of road to get to the nearest bridlepath. I’ve had a couple of near-misses and incidents that have rocked my nerves so I decided to get out there and raise awareness,” said Nikki.

    “98% of drivers are great – 1% don’t really don’t know what to do, and 1% are downright dangerous. If we can educate drivers on what we would like them to do – slow down and give us room – hopefully it will make a difference. We’re going to keep on doing the rides and hopefully there will be even more next year.”

    Ally Senior, founder of non-profit equine organisation Ride for a Cause which raises money for UK charities, organised a ride in East Yorkshire with 19 horses and 12 volunteers on foot.

    “We got involved because it’s getting worse and worse on the road and something needs to change,” Ally told H&H.

    “A lot of the drivers we have problems with are the ones who think horses belong in a field or on a bridleway – common sense doesn’t kick in that we don’t all have access to a bridleway at the bottom of our driveway.”

    Ally, who plans to continue running awareness rides in the future, said awareness needs to begin in schools.

    “I think we’re slowly getting through to drivers but there’s always going to be one, and it’s going to be a continued fight,” she said. “We need to be keep doing things to raise awareness like these rides.

    “It needs to start with local primary schools and speaking to children who will go home and speak to their parents – they’ve got to be educated from a young age.”

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