Advice from local branches of the Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Foods (MAFF) has been contradictory on the matter of whether cyclists can, or cannot use, rural roads so CTC director Kevin Mayne went straight to the horses mouth, as it were, and sought official sanction for the CTC to promote road cycling.
Between them, the CTC and MAFF have produced a set of guidelines for cyclists to follow. The main message is this: There is no reason to restrict the movement of cyclists on road.
CTC has produced a poster telling cyclists the good news (download it from www.ctc.org.uk). Bike shops could display this poster to reassure their customers that cycling on the minor road network has official blessing.
MAFF has agreed that encouraging cyclists to support the tourist industry and rural communities has got to be a good thing. MAFF says road cycling does not contravene measures to halt the spread of the disease.
Mayne said: Every cyclist can take these guidelines with them when they ride with the approval of the government. We have given cyclists and the cycle industry everything needed to get [cyclists] back on the road.
Hopefully the nod from MAFF will help convince local councils to relax the restrictions on those traffic-free cycle routes that have been closed to cyclists, and where the local hire centres and bike shops have been forced to close.
The CTC has done the initial legwork in getting official sanction for cyclists to enjoy the tarmacadamed parts of the countryside, now its up to bike shops to ram the message home locally. They should display the CTC poster and produce posters of their own.
And sensitively worded ads in the local press might also do wonders. Perhaps regional shops could band together and take out collective ads so it doesnt appear as though individual shops are breaking ranks and seeking commerical advantage at a time of national crisis?
And could the ACT generate some cash to take out a few (small) ads in the national press to encourage cycle use next weekend and for Easter? As well as getting existing cyclists out on their bikes, its important to reach out to new customers such as the millions of recreational walkers who may be persuaded to get out and about on bikes on the rural road network.
But what about the dog walkers who cant let their dogs run free on fields? At the Cycle and Leisure Show the ACT president David Wilsher displayed a dog walking spring that attaches to a bike: thats a PR opportunity going begging!
CTC/MAFF Guidelines for Cyclists
Foot and Mouth Disease Precautions
Issued on Friday 16th March 2001.
CTC is encouraging cyclists to play their part in keeping the rural economy and countryside tourism alive by continuing to use the minor roads network, not to stop riding or cancel planned Easter trips by operating within guidelines agreed with MAFF.
To quote Nick Brown, Minister for Agriculture The public should stay away from farms and livestock. This does not mean that people should not visit market towns, go to events taking place in villages or admire the landscape
The Guidelines are:
1 The risks of transmission of Foot and Mouth Disease by cyclists are no different to any other user of the countryside.
2 There is no reason to restrict the movement of cyclists on road.
3 Countryside users should not enter premises or areas formally restricted by MAFF or local authorities, including closed sections of the rights of way network. All offroad events are cancelled or postponed until further notice. Avoid all areas where there are or may be livestock, including car parks, headquarters, venues and other areas that are offroad or on agricultural land. Do not enter such areas even on a casual basis i.e. for breaks or picnics.
4 Cyclists who have contact with livestock should stick to the MAFF guidelines.
5 We encourage cyclists to behave with sensitivity to local feelings, to avoid confrontational behaviour and avoid congregating in large groups. Respect the wishes of landowners who may also want to restrict access to their properties.
6 Please go to the CTC web site to get an updated position. www.ctc.org.uk and to the MAFF site www.maff.gov.uk for specific FMD related advice, and new regulations if travelling abroad with your bike.
Enjoy your cycling
No scenic cycling because of foot and mouth?
"There is no reason to restrict the movement of cyclists on road."
CTC/MAFF, March 16 2001
For details of local CTC groups running planned rides and for CTC/MAFF Guidelines for Cyclists, call 01483 417217 or visit www.ctc.org.uk
For local FMD details call your local authority or the MAFF helpline: 0845 050 4141 or visit www.maff.co.uk or www.koko.com