Are Fletching lanes right place for cycle events?

Fletching country lanes
Fletching country lanes
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Families living in quiet country lanes near Fletching and the A272 are concerned about the impact of Sunday cycle road events in their villages.

Their fears came to a head earlier this year when a horse had to be put down after cyclists streamed past in a country lane. Jo Flew was out riding with her daughter, Joanna, along Daleham Lane near Fletching when a group of about 20 cyclists - taking part in the Etape de Sussex event - rode past them causing Jo’s horse to kick out in panic.

The kick broke the leg of Joanna’s prizewinning horse, Willow, and the pair had an unendurable wait for a vet to arrive and put the animal to sleep. Both mother and daughter were traumatised. But what also concerned them was the fact many cyclists did not stop to help, although Jo agrees two did.

Now a Down Street resident, Colin Streeter has been in touch with the Express to voice his fears a similar accident could happen. He said: “There was an event last Sunday. The day involved some 400 cyclists taking to the lanes around Fletching. News of last week’s “Wiggle’ event was revealed to the local riding community by chance the day before when a resident came across arrows suggesting some kind of forthcoming activity and Googled Wiggle.

“They learnt the cycle event was the next day and an organiser said any passer-by could call a number appearing on the arrow signs. Two lines of text were on the signs but no more than three millimetres high, showing a mobile number but no indication of when the event was to take place, or timing.”

PR consultant Colin added: “I was surprised no advance notice was placed in local newspapers. Other local people - particularly anyone with limited mobility or possible walking with a small child - would not want to be out as they couldn’t get to the side of the road quickly enough. We are rather imprisoned and I wonder whether lanes are the right place for these events?”

Although organisers said they inform local councils, chair of Fletching Parish Council Belinda Croft claimed no forward knowledge.

Deputy chair Peter Roundell agreed the council had no prior knowledge and added: “There was a lot of disruption and people could not get across the road to church on that day. I don’t know what one can do about it or whether they can be controlled but I certainly intend to ask the councils whether any permits should be sought.”

Colin Streeter said Sunday’s event appeared better organised than the previous Etape, with accompanying vehicles and notices at crossings, but he feared an injury or accident as cyclists co-incided with motor bikers and cars coming in the opposite direction.

Sunday’s event was part of the national Wiggle cycle challenge (organised by UK Cycling Events) in which Sir Bradley Wiggins took part. On Monday the Government announced a £160 million scheme to ‘cycle proof’ Britain’s roads involving a network of cycle paths to be built in eight cities.