It's a delicate balance trying to keep the off road cycling network that we currently have in the new forest. The FC and the NPA are working hard at a number of levels to guarantee the future of the cycle access that we have currently. It is not at all guaranteed and the FC have to ask the verderers for permission every few yrs.
The verderers are uppity about the off road cycling because they see it as a recreational facility. Legally the FC have to ask their permission to add or develop any recreational facilities on the forest as they can be considered to have an impact on commoning. For balance it is important to consider that the verderers main purpose is to "manage" and protect commoning/ grazing interests and it is this 1000+ years of grazing that makes the forest the unique place that it is.
When the verderers find people off the network cycling in the "tranquil"areas they just go back to the FC and tell them that they aren't managing access on the current network so why should they allow the permissive access to continue and why should they allow any extra links and extensions. They just see that perpetuating more off network access.
The legality of access on a bike in the NF is an issue due to the law and property act. This give free right of access across the NF on foot and horse but doesn't grant any "higher rights" such as on a bike or a car. It's a very old act and outdated but I guess it also is the reason that we can't ride on public footpaths across the uk.
The verderers don't administer this piece of legislation but they utilise it to get what they want.
The other fly in the ointment is that the whole of the FC estate in the NF, "The Crown Lands" is a SSSI and also a SAC, Special Site of Scientific Interest and Special Area of Conservation respectively. The SSSI status is the highest level of conservation designation in the uk and the SAC is the highest level of conservation designation in Europe. The new forest ecology is genuinely unique and very protected by law. This makes it very difficult to reconcile recreation of any type and the protection of the conservation status. It's almost impossible just to build a new track or trail to link up a route.
It must also seem genuinely crazy to someone on a bike to be stopped by a an FC guy in a landrover and told you can't ride there and to turn back and then see the landrover and a massive tractor trundle down that same road. All that guy is doing is trying to protect access for the hundreds of thousands each year who use the off road network as if the verderers see that same person riding off route it becomes more ammunition to get the whole route thrown out. Now I'm not sure that will ever be possible given the current levels of use but what it does do is make any time that the FC or the NPA or the Cycle Working Group have for discussion on cycling get completely drowned in arguments about current off network use making it difficult to move forward on actually sorting out new links or better access.
The road cycling thing is another issue altogether. It's just perpetuated by people who come to live here jumping on the bandwagon just fit in down the local pub. It's crazy that you'd prefer an extra 100 cars to be driving through Lyndhurst than 100 bikes. That said, if you're a local it is a busy place in the summer and it can be a pain in the traffic when you're just trying to get to work or the shops and the huge(and excellent) increase in road cycling means that there has been a massive increase in bikes on the already crowded roads of the NF. Obviously I'm a cyclist myself and I treat other cyclists, and motorists with respect on the roads but it can be frustrating to be stuck behind a big spread out group on a narrow winding road just as much as it's frustrating to be sat behind a dawdling caravanner for 4 miles on the a35.
I don't know what the answer is to this one, it's just a perceived problem mainly but it's the fashionable moan lately in the NF for those who want to fit in. 5 yrs ago it was river restoration, 5 yrs before that it off road cycling, before that it was probably something else.