The popularity of mountain biking has exploded in the UK in recent years but little has been done to improve or clarify cyclists’ access arrangements to off-road paths and trails. Now, using Scotland’s highly successful approach to outdoor access as a model, Cycling UK aims to improve access rights for cyclists in England and Wales, opening up more trails to mountain bikers across the country.
To do this, Cycling UK wants to first gain a better understanding of how people’s cycling habits fit in with current access arrangements to rights of way in England and Wales. By completing the organisation’s short survey, you can do your part to help it get a better picture of where, how and why people ride their bikes off road.
Under current access laws, cyclists have the right to use only a fraction of the country’s vast network of footpaths and bridleways.
Currently, whether or not a cyclist can use a right of way is determined by its historical usage as opposed to its suitability for riding. In practical terms, this means that a cyclist may have the right to freely skitter down a muddy and un-ridable bridleway but not on an asphalt surfaced footpath, even if the same path is used privately by motor vehicles.
Roger Geffe, Cycling UK’s policy director points towards Scotland’s common sense approach to access rights for cyclists and hopes that the same can be adopted in the future in the rest of the UK.
“We’ve seen how off-road cycling can thrive in harmony with all other outdoor users [in Scotland], and Cycling UK now wants to understand how we can bring the same benefits to England and Wales,” he says.
The survey can be found at: www.cyclinguk.org/offroad-survey. Every person who completes the survey will also be automatically entered into a prize draw to win an iPad mini.
Do you wish there were more trails in your area? Is that sublime slither of singletrack currently out of bounds? Leave your thoughts in the comments below.