Mountain bikers in Bristol, England fear they are about to lose one of their best loved riding spots.
Signs have gone up at Still Wood, near the Ashton Court estate, stating that “all cycling must cease” because it is being redesignated as a working wood.
The notice goes on to say: “During November all ramps, jumps and associated groundworks will be removed.” Reports suggest diggers have already moved in.
The wood, owned by Bristol University, is criss-crossed by a network of downhill tracks, dirt jumps and freeride stunts which are used by hundreds of riders each week.
A group of local mountain bikers have already set up a Facebook page campaigning against its closure, Save Still Woods.
Student Matt Horgan told BikeRadar: “The wood is really important for mountain biking in Bristol. Both universities – Bristol and the University of the West of England – have strong clubs that use it, and it’s a great place for people getting into the sport. There’s nowhere else in Bristol to go downhilling, and a lot of us don’t have cars.
“This closure is a real surprise because there are a few guys who are regularly up there litter-picking and the trails are well maintained. We should be able to come to some kind of agreement with the university to keep the trails maintained and get some insurance.”
It had been hoped that the biking ban was a temporary measure while essential forestry work was carried out. But when we contacted the university it sounded like the closure would be permanent.
A spokeswoman told BikeRadar: “The University of Bristol is concerned that cyclists are riding, and at some points jumping, across public pathways in woodland owned by the university at Long Ashton. This could lead to accidents involving pedestrians as well as the cyclists themselves. In addition, there has been a significant amount of damage to the woodland as a result of mountain biking.
“On Friday notices were put up at each access point, indicating that permission to use the woods (with the exception of the public footpaths) had been revoked. All ramps and ditches [jumps and berms] will be removed this week and a project manager will be working with contractors, and neighbours, to reinstate boundary posts, fences and footpaths. This will involve some scrub clearance along boundaries.
“In due course the woodland will be thinned, along the lines of good woodland management and with a licence from the Forestry Commission. New tree whips will be planted, within cordoned-off areas, in order to restore the natural habitat which has been lost.”