From Tricia Merrifield, chair, IW Bridleways Group and and area BHS ABO, Newport:

On Saturday, November 28, when a new bridge installed by Island Roads on the the Old Railway Line near Alverstone became available for use, it officially made the section of National Cycle Route 23 from Alverstone to Sandown safely available for equestrian use.

This ended many years of frustration for horse and pony riders in the immediate area who had been barred from using it as the old iron bridge was not considered to be safe for horse and pony riders to negotiate.

In fact, it was not really fit for purpose for cyclists and walkers either, especially family groups, parents with double buggies and mobility vehicles. So this is an improvement for all user groups.

Almost immediately walkers and cyclists started to complain about the presence of equestrians on ‘their’ path.

Perhaps they all need a reminder that when this National Cycle Route 23 from Cowes via Newport to Sandown was opened in 2003 it incorporated already existing definitive public bridleways and footpaths .

These existing routes were Tarmaced for the benefit of cyclists but to the detriment of equestrians.

So, for the last 17 years, walkers have had to tolerated cyclists and equestrians on definitive footpath sections and equestrians and walkers have had to tolerate cyclists on definitive bridleway sections.

Surely then it should not be very difficult or in any way different for all vulnerable users to share the section of the route from Alverstone to Sandown.

Advice from government to local authorities is that, wherever possible, equestrian users should have the use of any existing safe routes which have been established for walkers and cyclists especially within urban areas and new developments.

The IW Bridleways Group has worked in conjunction with the IW Council rights of way department for four years to achieve access to the Alverstone to Sandown section of this route and have contributed financially towards the cost of the new bridge .

As we are a British Horse Society Affiliated Group, the BHS, including the IW BHS Area Committee, have also generously contributed funding.

The IW Bridleways Group and the British Horse Society work to promote harmonious sharing of routes and it actually doesn’t take much effort for all vulnerable users to share routes and to be courteous and aware of each other's safe space.