Cycling UK and OpenMTB have backed Welsh Government proposals to open up most footpaths in Wales to cycling via the Trails for Wales campaign.
Currently, cycling and horse riding are only permitted on 21 per cent of the entire rights of way network in Wales. This prevents people using tracks and trails which are eminently suitable for cycling, whilst allowing them to cycle on muddy bridleways.
The Welsh Government’s consultation, ‘Taking forward Wales’ sustainable management of natural resources’, proposes changes to the legislation to allow cycling and horse riding on footpaths where suitable, a move welcomed by Cycling UK and OpenMTB in their consultation response.
In 2015, through their joint campaign, Trails for Wales, Cycling UK and OpenMTB made this recommendation to the Welsh Government. The campaign was backed by over 4000 members of the public and highlighted the health, social and economic benefits of a similar policy move in Scotland, where a Transform Scotland report estimated the economic benefits of off-road and leisure cycling at between £236.2m and £358m per year.
Cycling UK, via their Rides of Way report published in February this year, found that one-third of cyclists ride regularly on trails whose status they do not know. This suggests the current rights of way network is confusing and needs simplifying, a move backed by the Welsh Government in their consultation. The report was based on the views gathered from over 11,000 off-road cyclists, and also found a further 74 per cent of them consider the current rights of way network unsuitable.
Cycling UK is now urging as many people from across the UK that advocate cycling off-road to take action and support the creation of Trails for Wales here.
Cycling UK head of advocacy and campaigns Duncan Dollimore said: “The Welsh Government is rightly looking for opportunities to manage its wide range of wonderful natural resources, recognising in their consultation the uncertainties that may come with Brexit. These proposals will help more people enjoy the outdoors, while also benefiting the rural economy – their forward thinking is on way to making history.
“Wales is a world class destination for cycling in all its forms, whether you’re looking for a gentle family wander or heading to one of the many trail centres for an off-road adventure. Opening up suitable footpaths to more cycling will only increase the appeal for more people to come and visit Wales for a great cycling experience."