PEDESTRIANS could be mown down by speeding cyclists if a new West Wight cycle route goes ahead, opponents fear.
A petition signed by more than 100 people has already been collected against National Trust proposals to create a new route for cyclists between Freshwater Bay and The Needles headland.
With mountain biking growing in popularity, the trust is looking to use established paths and tracks to create a new cycle route to deter cyclists from using the thin turf footpaths across Tennyson Down.
The proposed route would start from the east end of Bedbury Lane and use existing public bridleways before joining up with the footpath to High Down pit car park.
Some scrub and trees would be cleared to make the path wide enough for both walkers and cyclists to pass safely, the trust said.
The route would continue along footpath T24, past the replica Nodes Beacon, to cross the whole length of West High Down.
The trust, which is also proposing a cycle route across Mottistone Common, stressed public footpaths from Freshwater Bay over the top of Tennyson Down would not be part of the proposed route.
It said: "The long slopes are too tempting for cyclists to speed and present a hazard to walkers.
"West High Down is relatively level, meaning speeding cyclists would be less of an issue and the terrain is open with clear vision."
But at Freshwater Parish Council on Tuesday, councillors voted by six votes to two against the plans.
They feared the potential conflict between cyclists, walkers and horse riders was an accident waiting to happen.
However, Cllr Andy Sutton said: "It has been said that a minority of cyclists cause problems; how should it be we allow this minority to spoil the enjoyment for the majority? The majority will use it safely and responsibly."
The trust said it wanted to canvass the views of as many people and organisations as possible before making a decision.