One of the Peak District's most popular mountain bike venues, has experienced vandalism.
As snowy winter riding conditions and lockdown regulations increase social anxiety, tensions are simmering in northern England.
Macclesfield Forest is a popular mountain biking venue that also accommodates a diversity of other outdoor activity users. Aware of possible conflict, especially during peak usage, triggered by the more severe lockdown tiers, mountain bikers have made an effort to be courteous and considerate.
‘MTB Park’ tension
Despite this, a recent incident has required Cheshire police involvement. Although not an instance of direct rider/walker conflict, authorities are investigating the vandalism of a Macclesfield forest sign.
The forest office signage was defaced with graffiti to the effect of turning it into an ‘MTB Park’ sign. With mountain bikers aware of their sensitive access to many multi-use forests, the likelihood of this act sourcing from the local trail riding community is low.
An unfortunate possibility is that the graffiti was an act of vandalism to protest the presence of mountain bikers in the area, despite riding being entirely legal.
As regular socializing has been limited under the various tiers of lockdown, outdoor activity spaces have become saturated with users. The sheer numbers involved have created a dynamic where potential trail conflicts could occur.
Remaining mindful of expectations – during lockdown
Despite the majority of trail users sharing, it appears that a minority grouping is motivated to trigger indifference. The vandalism of Macclesfield forest signage is a potential consequence of this.
For the local mountain biking community, it is a particularly upsetting state of affairs. Riders and trail advocacy groups craft terrain with respect and participate in forest clean-up activities, such as Trash Feel Trails.
Outdoor activities are desperately important during the lockdown, preventing anxiety and surges of stress, due to being indoors and isolated from conventional socializing.
Defacing public signs, especially those concerning the splendour of a national park or forest resource, is a particularly unpleasant action.
For the mountain biking community, it is an upsetting occurrence. That their rightful presence in Macclesfield forest is being used as an excuse for a minority outdoor activity group, to act in a potentially vengeful and selfish manner.