Horse riders to take to Cornwall and UK roads to urge dangerous drivers to give them space
A Penzance horse-rider whose campaign for motorists to treat riders with respect go nationwide has organised a series of rides all over Britain to raise awareness.
Debbie Smith wants it to be made a legal requirement for motorists to pass a horse “wide and slow”.
“As riders on the roads we need to be protected by the law,” she said. “We need it to be legalised to have to pass a horse wide and slow and to abide hand signals to slow and stop. The roads are becoming busier, faster with heavier traffic and very dangerous, please help sign this and make it legal.”
Ms Smith’s petition, which started at a local level searching for 10,000 signatures, has now racked up just shy of 100,000 names from all over the UK. Her Facebook group dedicated to the cause has more than 7,000 members across Britain who use it as a platform to share their riding experiences.
“It’s amazing to see how far this group, which started as a petition in west Cornwall, has come,” she said. “Riders have been able to meet like-minded people from all over the country. We all want the same thing.”
The Highway Code states that horse-riders are among the most vulnerable road-users.
Debbie Smith said the events were not in protest, but merely to raise awareness.
It says drivers must be: “Particularly careful of horse riders and horse-drawn vehicles especially when overtaking. Always pass wide and slowly. Take great care and treat all horses as a potential hazard; they can be unpredictable, despite the efforts of their rider/driver.”
Ms Smith has praised the support she has had and, through her MP Derek Thomas, met with Transport Minister Andrew Jones.
Now a series of rides all over Britain has been organised to keep the flag flying and drum up more support in the riders’ fight to create protective legislation.
Through social media she has organised as many as 20 rides across the UK, including in west Cornwall, Wales, London and York.
The events will all take place on May 21, with riders and their horses decorated in banners promoting the ‘pass wide and slow’ movement.
“We are not looking to cause trouble or wind up any drivers,” she said. “This is not a protest, it is just to raise awareness. It’s going to be on a Sunday. The roads have been carefully chosen, we’re limiting each event to 20 riders and if it gets too busy we can always branch out into groups of five.
“We do not want to annoy anyone. We’re even hoping that people might smile and wave for us. The main message that we are trying to get out there is that we do go out on the road with our horses, we are allowed to do that, and to say thanks to those drivers who do pass us wide and slow.”
The local ride will begin from Tregurtha Downs, near Penzance. Further information can be found on the Pass Wide and Slow Facebook group.