Both cyclists and horse riders are vulnerable road users and should be considerate and mindful of one another when sharing the roads.
We collaborated with Cycling UK to develop a consideration and courtesy awareness message of ‘Be Nice, Say Hi’ to help cyclists and horse riders pass each other safely both on and off the road.
Many bridleways are often connected via roads and therefore horse riders are forced to use them. Our Dead? Or Dead Slow? campaign advises drivers to slow right down to a maximum of 15mph and to pass only when it’s safe to do so, passing wide and slow leaving at least a car width between the vehicle and the horse when they meet a horse on the road.
We advise cyclists to do very much the same.
Although cyclists are also vulnerable road users, it does not mean that they pose less of a threat to horses than cars do.
Horses are flight animals and are known to react quickly to anything they are unsure of. By spreading this new campaign message of ‘Be Nice, Say Hi’ we’re encouraging cyclists to drop their pace and call out a greeting, allowing the horse and rider time to react before then overtaking wide and slow, if safe to do so.
Unlike cars, cyclists are virtually silent on the roads and this can startle a horse, especially if a cyclist passes by at speed. A startled horse can cause injury to not just its rider but also the cyclist(s).
To ensure a horse remains calm, the rider may ask that a cyclist stop before passing and we would encourage cyclists to do so. Whilst we appreciate that this can be frustrating for cyclists, particularly if they’re competing, it is to better protect the safety of all those involved. We also strongly encourage all horse riders to thank cyclists and cars that do pass by safely.
The launch of our joint campaign with Cycling UK followed concerns after an incident involving cyclists and a horse during Windsor Triathlon. A video, shared on Facebook, showed the competing cyclists both overtaking and undertaking the rider at speed, frightening the horse and resulting in the rider temporarily losing control.
The rider was understandably shaken by the incident and the viral footage caused outrage resulting in one cyclist subsequently being banned from competing in any further events.
We hope that with greater awareness of our campaign messages more cyclists and horse riders will work together when out on the roads and this in time will reduce the number of collisions and injuries.
Download our ‘Be Nice, Say Hi’ leaflet and view our instructional videos from our website at www.bhs.org.uk/cycles.
Director, British Horse Society