Mildenhall/West Row: Horse riders hit out over new cycle path

The path which the British Horse Society says should have been placed parallel to the bridleway.

The path which the British Horse Society says should have been placed parallel to the bridleway. - Credit: Picasa

Horse riders have been forced onto the road after being squeezed off a bridleway between West Row and Mildenhall following a cycle path project, an equestrian organisation has claimed.

Alison Balfour-Lynn, from the British Horse Society, has accused Suffolk County Council of breaking promises over its plans to create a cycleway along the route of Bridleway One.

Ms Balfour-Lynn, who is regional access and bridleways officer, said the lovely grassy bridleway from Staunch Cottages to West Row has been covered with a black surface instead of the cycleway being laid as a parallel track to the bridleway.

She added: “Horse riders are now confined to a rough one-metre wide grass verge, that is, in places, cambered and scattered with large loose stones at the West Row end.”

That the bridleway would be tarmaced over was a key concern from the horse riding community over the cycleway plans.

Ms Balfour-Lynn also criticised signage which asks cyclists to ring their bells when approaching other path users, branding it as “ridiculous”.

She said complaints from the horse riding community included cyclists speeding past ringing their bells and yelling at horse riders to get out of the way, adding there had been a case of a child falling off a pony after it became spooked.

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She said a lot of horse riders were now choosing the roads over the bridleway.

She urged for the signs to come down “before there is a serious accident” and be replaced by others telling cyclists they must give way to horse riders and pedestrians.

A spokesman for Suffolk County Council said: “There is no legal requirement for signage on bridleways stating that cyclists must give way. And experience from other areas has shown that signs asking cyclists to alert other users to their presence has worked very effectively.

“However, we’re happy to respond to this request by installing new signs. These will read ‘Cyclists, please give way to horse riders and pedestrians’. We hope this is a satisfactory solution for the horse riding community.”

Previously, county councillor Colin Noble has said he looked forward to walkers, cyclists and horse riders using the new £250,000 path and sharing it.

Suffolk County Council did not respond to the claims about the laying of the cycleway from Staunch Cottages to West Row.