New national framework for Scottish mountain biking

Aim is to get more people riding and win more medals

A new national strategy for the sustainable development of mountain biking in Scotland was launched today by downhill world champion Steve Peat.

Created by the Scottish Mountain Bike Development Consortium (SMBDC), the framework aims to increase visitors to the country's trails, encourage more Scots to get on their bikes, and help Scottish riders win medals in national and international competitions.

The main targets are:

  • Increase mountain biking visitor numbers by a further 50 percent over the next five years
  • Increase domestic participation in mountain biking by 25 percent over the same period
  • Assist Scots to win at least five medals in world or Commonwealth competitions

To help achieve this, 'development clusters' will be created throughout Scotland. These will involve local authorities, representatives of the national agencies involved in the SMBDC, clubs and local businesses. Initially, five clusters will be established to cover South Scotland, West Central Scotland, Perthshire/Angus/Fife, The Highlands and The North East and Deeside.

The framework was launched today by Peat – who said he was excited that mountain biking was going to be established as a sport for all – and Scottish Minister for Public Health and Sport Shona Robison. They met pupils at BannermanHigh School in Glasgow, which has an after-school mountain biking club.

A number of potential issues were identified during the creation of the framework, including concerns about liability and litigation, gaps in the geographical distribution of trail centres, the need to avoid environmental damage and the portrayal of mountain biking as an "extreme, macho activity".

The top priorities identified were:

  • Improve access, particularly for those without cars.
  • Manage trails better.
  • Engage local communities.

Robison said: “Mountain biking already contributes a vast amount to Scotland, offering opportunities for participation in sport, encouraging visitors to rural areas, attracting world-class events and producing talented athletes. Delivering the framework will ensure that mountain biking is well placed to build on this effort and play its part in creating an active nation as we build up to the 2014 Commonwealth Games here in Glasgow.”

Over the past 20 years, mountain biking has become established as a major sport in Scotland, thanks in part to purpose-built trail centres like the 7stanes network, which attracts 400,000 visits a year, and events such as the Fort William World Cup. The UK Tourism Survey found that 108,000 trips in Scotland in 2006 involved mountain biking, which rose to 197,000 in 2007.

SMBDC members SNH, sportscotland, Scottish Enterprise, FCS and CTC are funding a three-year programme to take the strategy forward.

You can download a copy of Sustainable Development of Mountain Biking – a National Strategic Framework at www.scottishmountainbikeframework.org.

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