Cycling UK and OpenMTB are today launching the first national survey of off-road cycling activity in England and Wales
Increased access for cyclists has remained high on the agenda following Cycling UK and OpenMTB’s high-profile joint “Trails for Wales” campaign. While the popularity of off-road cycling, including mountain biking, appears to be on the increase, there is still a lack of information about the where, how and why people are riding off-road.
This survey will establish an accurate picture of riding behaviour – and how it fits with the present access arrangements in England and Wales. It will also provide an opportunity to look at the health, economic and social benefits of off-road cycling in all its forms.
In particular, through this survey, Cycling UK wants to understand whether the current system of Rights of Way causes unnecessary confusion or alienates new riders.
Under current laws cyclists have a right to use 22% of England’s rights of way network, and 21% in Wales. Whether a route is a footpath, a bridleway or a byway is generally determined by its history of past usage, and not by its suitability. This can mean cycling may be permitted on an unrideable muddy bridleway but not on a tarmac-surfaced footpath, even where it is used privately by motor vehicles.
Roger Geffen MBE, Cycling UK’s Director of Policy said:“Cycling UK has a long history of enabling people to enjoy cycling in appropriate off road settings, and in ways that respect walkers, wildlife and the natural environment.
“Our Trails for Wales campaign showed us the huge interest in promoting outdoor access through cycling, but it also highlighted a lot of the confusion about what is allowed, as well as concerns about managing potential conflict with other users.
“We’ve seen in Scotland how off-road cycling can thrive in harmony with all other outdoor users, and Cycling UK now wants to understand how we can bring the same benefits to England and Wales.”
The survey can be accessed at: www.cyclinguk.org/offroad-survey from 24 August.