A member of the British Horse Society (BHS) has hit out at Forest Heath District Council after the tarmacking of a Mildenhall bridleway has left horse riders ‘confined’ to a small grass verge.
Alison Balfour-Lynn, BHS Regional Access & Bridleways Officer for the Eastern Region, claimed the new cycleway on Mildenhall Bridleway 1 has not been laid as promised and now encroaches on the bridleway, disadvantaging riders.
She also raised concerns about inappropriate signage to cyclists on the path, which Suffolk County Council has agreed to change in response to complaints.
Ms Balfour-Lynn said: “I do not think I am overstating if I say I think we have been lied to and fobbed off with empty promises, that there was never any intention to be carried out.
“Horse riders are now confined to a rough 1m wide grass verge, that is in places cambered and scattered with large loose stones.”
Of the new signage Ms Balfour-Lynn said: “The sign asking cyclists to ring their bells when approaching other path users is simply ridiculous!
“These signs must come down immediately before there is a serious accident.”
In a statement about the signs 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 have 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.”
Forest Heath district councillor Colin Noble said people had been asking him for a new cycleway in Mildenhall and West Row for years.
“It was asked for by the community so that families could ride bikes, so there was a safe road between Mildenhall and West Row,” he said.
Cllr Noble admitted there was an issue with cyclists being mindful of horse riders, but said the council had worked ‘very hard’ to rectify it.
“These community facilities are there to be enjoyed by all, not just one group,” he said.
“The vast majority of feedback has been extremely positive. Residents are happy that they have a place to walk safely.”