July 23, 2007

A proposed amendment to the British Highway Code could mean that horse riders are no longer allowed to ride two abreast.
The Association of British Drivers is supporting a call by the British Horse Society for a proposed amendment to the Highway Code to be reconsidered.

At present the Highway Code includes the following advice to horse riders:

The government is proposing to change the Highway Code so that it will forbid riding two horses abreast on narrow and busy roads and when riding around bends.

The ABD considers that the proposed change will increase the likelihood of accidents between horses and vehicles, and is therefore joining the BHS in asking the government to reconsider the proposal.

"I've only ridden a horse once in my life, but I encounter many as I often drive on country lanes," said ABD spokesman Nigel Humphries.

"I can see that using an older confident horse to shield a young nervous horse from passing vehicles is common sense. You have to give horses a wide berth and pass them very slowly, especially on narrow lanes, so I don't think that forcing riders into single file is going to reduce the time taken for cars to pass them at all. If they are two abreast, its also likely that drivers will see them sooner on twisty, hedge lined roads and have more time to slow down. The proposed change is surely going to increase the risk to both riders and drivers and should be opposed by both groups of road users."

ABD member Chris Ward pointed out that he had often seen horses being ridden two abreast where the inner horse is a young horse ridden by a child. "The proposed Highway Code amendment seems to be totally at odds with the government's frequently expressed concern for the safety of children on our roads," he said.

Mark Weston, Director of Access Safety and Welfare for the British Horse Society, said he was disappointed that the Government was unwilling to make further amendments to the Highway Code at this stage.

"The British Horse Society believes that the Highway Code should reflect the best advice to highway users to ensure their safety, however the Society does not believe that the revisions to the Code as they stand at present achieves this, when it advises horse riders to ride in single file at all times on narrow or busy roads and when riding round bends.

"There are many valid reasons for riding two abreast to ensure the safety not only of horse riders but also of vehicle drivers as well."

The proposed changes will also ban horses from all cycle tracks, despite some cycle tracks having been specifically built for such dual usage.

The ABD and BHS are asking drivers and horse riders alike to sign a petition on the prime minister's website that calls on the prime minister to block the proposed amendment to the Highway Code. The petition already has more than 15,000 signatures.