Riders campaigning for improved road safety called off by severe weather forecast
A nationwide event to draw attention to the safety concerns of horse riders has been postponed due to severe weather forecast to hit the country over the weekend, but at least one South Canterbury rider says riders should not be on the roads at all.
The Ride for Road Safety event, which would have seen riders and pedestrians across the country cover designated routes at 10am on Saturday, was called off following the advice of MetService and Police who were concerned the forecast would further endanger those participating.
A petition started by the New Zealand Horse Network, which organised the Ride for Road Safety event, calling for changes to legislation and road design to include the needs of horse riders, has been signed by more than 4000 people.
In South Canterbury, about 20 riders were expected to meet at the Temuka sale yards for a 5.3 kilometre ride around the township to raise awareness of the safety concerns of riders sharing the roads with motorists.
However, one experienced horse rider who also teaches people to ride said she believed riders should not be on the roads at all.
Timaru resident Linda Pullar, who owns the Timaru Kishon Arabian Stud, said she gave up riding on the roads about four years ago and cannot see a way forward for horses on roads.
"Over the last 10 years the trucks go faster and horses get nervous ... you are listening for the next hazard."
The volume of traffic on country roads had increased with more contracting machinery and tractors on the road, she said.
"You take your life in your hands."
Pullar said she was also concerned by the number of "townie lifestylers" who had no livestock sense.
"They drive in and out fast, without a thought a cow could be on the road."
Horses preferred something coming up behind them rather than being approached head-on, but that was no good for riders who are unable to see oncoming hazards if they are riding with the flow of traffic, she said.
Pullar said she no longer wished to spend an entire roadside ride reassuring a horse and now opted to ride on her property or take horses to an arena in a float.
The only time she took horses near the road was when she led pupils along the verge near her property but that was only using horses used to the routine and Pullar said she retained control of them at all times.
She said she would not allow pupils to ride alone.
South Canterbury Road Safety co-ordinator Daniel Naude has been pushing for lower default speeds on country roads since 2014.
He said there had not been many crashes involving horses in the region but there had been lots of complaints from horse riders.
"It's not a quick fix but there will be gradual implementation in the Long Term Plan of looking at the road networks, what's a main road and what's an arterial road. It's a huge challenge for the budget," he said.
A new date for the Ride for Road Safety event was yet to be confirmed.