Now that the nights are brighter, you may fancy a bike-ride along the country lanes more often. It is common for horse riders to appear on these roads, so you have to be extra careful when cycling past them.
It’s vital that horse riders are safe when on the roads; an accident risks the life of the horse as well as the rider.
Our very own Lisa Overton-Locking (pictured) is somewhat of an expert on this, as she has vast experience riding horses, so she knows what it’s like to be in the position of a vulnerable road user.
There are certain things you can do to help prevent road accidents involving horses.
When you are trying to pass a horse on a rural lane, make sure you go wide enough to the right and give them plenty of room. This is just as important for your safety as it is for the horse and rider’s. If a horse is startled by you passing them too closely on your bike, they could be spooked and end up running into you and knocking you off.
If horses are riding two abreast, be extra considerate because this may signify a young or nervous horse, or even an inexperienced rider. In such situations, wait patiently for the best opportunity to overtake when you have space to go wide enough.
Make sure you significantly reduce your speed when approaching a horse either from behind or head-on. Again, to avoid spooking the horse, make sure it has time to realise you are approaching.
Communicate with horse riders on roads
This is a crucial tip for when you’re approaching from behind the horse. Since the horse won’t be able to see you until the moment you’re overtaking in these situations, it’s important that you communicate with the rider early on.
You can do this by simply saying ‘good morning’ or ‘hello’ so that the rider is aware of your presence. Once they have acknowledged you, pay attention to any instructions they give you for passing.
Groups of cyclists
Horses may be spooked easier when there’s a big group of cyclists passing. Therefore, if you’re part of a cycling club, make sure you all slow down when approaching a horse and split into smaller groups to overtake. If necessary, the horse rider may be able to find a safe place to stop and let you all pass, so allow them time and space to do this.
Make sure horse riders on roads can see you
You must be clearly visible so that horse riders can see you as soon as possible. It’s important that you have lights fitted onto your bike, but don’t use flashing lights when passing horses, since this can also spook them.
Please remember these tips as they’ll help you stay safe on your bike, and also keep horse riders safe too.