On 14 April horse riders across the UK gathered for a number of rides supporting the ‘Pass Wide & Slow’ campaign, aimed at encouraging other road users to be aware of horses and pass them safely.
Over 400 riders, 20+ carriage drivers, four mounted police officers, walking, driving and motorbike police officers from various divisions, 30+ cyclists, over 60 walkers and a few runners attended the different rides.
Riding alongside banners, with plenty of high-vis on show, supporters were raising awareness of the ‘Pass Wide & Slow’ petition for a change in the law to protect horses and their riders on the roads.
The guidance says cars should go no faster than 15mph and no closer than two metres, and only pass when it is safe to do so.
Debbie Smith from the campaign group ‘Pass Wide & Slow’ put the call out at the beginning of the year for volunteers to organise awareness rides/drives in their area. She commented that the response from members of the general public who like her were concerned about their safety on the roads was amazing.
The organised rides were anything from a couple of riders going out to a large group of over 23 riders.
Debbie commented: “Wow, everyone who rode out deserves a medal. The support we received was amazing and I’d like to thank everyone involved, including the local police forces that supported our awareness rides.”
Penny Joubert has been involved with the campaign for three years, she said: “Maybe people are still unaware of the danger to themselves and to riders, and hopefully the rides will help to raise awareness and make drivers more interested in how to pass safely and without incident.”
Jill Nobbs, who organised a ride in Swindon, said: "We want there to be more legislation which protects horse riders like there is for cyclists. Drivers are in a hurry but we have a right to share the roads with them and we don't have much of a choice because there are very few bridleways around here. "
Jackie Watts, who participated in a ride on the Isle of Wight said: " The biggest issue we have is people going too fast. It's quite common to have a car take over at 60mph, because that is the speed limit on country lanes.
“But all it takes is a pheasant to fly out of the bushes or a plastic bag to be blown across the road to startle a horse and then they step sideways and end up in the path of a car. It is people not thinking about what could happen if something goes wrong. That is what this campaign is all about – we want to get the message out so people think before passing a horse on the road."
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