The Tour de France effect: cause for rider concern?

  • Riders are warned to take extra care on the roads in coming weeks as cycling is expected to see a boom in interest due to the Tour de France.

    Horse owners have told H&H that while they enjoyed the event coming to the UK, some have concerns about the growing popularity of the sport.

    The event visited Yorkshire and London earlier this month (5-7 July).

    The British Horse Society (BHS) said it was “too early” to say whether they will see any incidents off the back of the Tour de France, but warned riders to be aware.

    Some riders have expressed concerns over the increase in the number of people cycling in the Yorkshire area, but on the whole we have found both riders and cyclists have been receptive to advice,” said a spokesman.

    “We feel the test will be in coming weeks when, as we saw with Box Hill after London 2012, more cyclists will want to experience riding iconic climbs from the Tour.”

    After the Olympics cycling experienced a boom in popularity, with British Cycling seeing its membership rise by 50% in a year.

    Last year two accidents involving bikes — one in which a horse died, the other in which a rider ended up in intensive care — prompted calls for cycling’s governing body to improve safety.

    One of the accidents was due to a “sportive” — a mass unregulated ride with hundreds of cyclists.

    The BHS contacted British Cycling asking them to regulate rides better and worked with the organisation to prepare a safety leaflet.

    There is also information on the body’s website for bike riders.

    “We’ve always had cyclists, but the volume has been building and it can be frightening,” said Susan Midgely, BHS access officer for north-west Yorkshire, who has been talking to local cycling groups.

    H&H reader Elena Myers lives near York and saw the Tour pass through, but believes there should be more awareness from cyclists.

    “The number of cyclists in the area has increased hugely, which is fantastic but I have some concerns,” she told H&H.

    “I’ve lost count of the number of times in the past six months that a cyclist has come whizzing around a blind corner or those that will sneak up behind you and wonder why the horse spooks as they pass.”

    Fellow reader Jackie Bruce Coultas added: “It is horrendous driving round the narrow lanes of Keighley with a trailer at the moment as everyone is riding the Tour de France route.”

    Jayne Gingell has also seen a spike in cycling.

    “We live on bike route 51 in Suffolk and there has definitely be an increase of cyclists on our lane,” she said.

    Riders are encouraged to report any incidents to www.horseaccidents.org.uk

    This news story was first published in Horse & Hound magazine (17 July, 2014)

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