Yesterday we revealed that Still Wood, one of Bristol's most popular riding spots, had been closed to cyclists. After talks between landowner Bristol University and its own mountain bike club, it now appears the situation may not be as bad as first feared.
While bikes will be banned from the wood for several months and trails will be flattened, it is hoped new trails can be built once the forestry and research work has been completed.
Danny Ball, president of Bristol University Bike Club, sent BikeRadar an email saying: "The woodland managers do understand that the woods are widely used by mountain bikers from all over the UK and realise that banning cycling will have some serious negative effects... so they are willing to negotiate some solutions."
It looks likely that the university will allow the construction of three main trails which do not interfere with research work and regeneration of the woodland. Mountain bikers will need insurance to ride in the woods, and must take responsibility for the trails.
Danny said: "This means no unauthorised trail building, and litter must be taken away, even if it isn't yours. I think this is a fair solution and will probably be the only solution unless the woods are to be shut down for cycling permanently."
The university has received complaints about litter and damage to the woodland (including unauthorised felling of trees), allegations of mountain bikers almost knocking walkers over, and calls from the emergency services to put in more safety measures due to the number of call-outs.
Danny urged people to stay out of the woods for the next couple of months, saying: "Everyone must bear in mind that the university owns this land for research purposes and they have been good enough in the past to allow mountain biking to take place in the woods... For now the key to getting permission to ride in Still again is to not take any rash actions and allow what must be done over the next few months."
The plan is to set up a Still Wood management group. Then, in the spring, the club will work with a professional trail builder and the university's contractors to mark out the three new trails.
A spokeswoman for the university said: "[Once work in the wood]... has been carried out, the university will work with the university cycling club to try and identify new cycle routes that do not conflict with public footpaths or the commercial activities in the wood."