Commissioned report recommends bye-bye bikers

Belfast council’s People and Communities Committee are today debating whether they are going to ban mountain biking in Cave Hill Country Park.

>>> Council members blame Strava for mountain bike ban in California park

A total ban on mountain biking is the conclusion in a recently completed report commissioned by the council.

The report states that even after fifteen years or so of looking for a solution, there has yet to be an answer that satisfies all users of the park. Recent spates of trail sabotage (fishing line tripwires, trees hauled across trails, holes dug in tracks etc) have highlighted a strong anti-bike sentiment amidst some users. So mountain bikers look like they’re out on their ear.

As with a lot of Northern Ireland’s rights of way regarding off-road cycling, the current permission for cycling falls in something of a grey area. Essentially, mountain biking is allowed in the park but technically only within the limits of a local by-law which states that they must not ride in unsafe way or damage the park or alarm other users.

According to a report on the BBC website,, the report cites a “serious public safety issue” and that “it is now clear that the council must take measures to prevent mountain biking at Cave Hill Country Park.”

The report quotes a police officer saying that bikers reach speeds of 30mph on the downhill runs. The report recommends a high-profile enforcement blitz be carried out by the police.

Local mountain biker Bern McClure, understandably, is not best pleased. Speaking to the BBC, Mr McClure said: “We are absolutely aghast. It was the mountain bikers who originally approached the council asking for help to counteract incidents of sabotage which had been going on and now the whole thing has been turned on its head.

“Now these people are going to be allowed to use the park with impunity while we are punished.

“Mountain biking has been part of life in Cave Hill Country Park for years, and we have worked hard to make sure it can co-exist with all other park users.”

The report cites the infamous case last year of London fixie rider Charlie Alliston handed 18-month prison sentence over death of Kim Briggs and also an incident where a scrambler motorbike had a collision with a scrambler in Colin Glen.

Mr McClure criticised this mention in the report of the fatal accident in Colin Glen that involved the motocross bike and had nothing to do with mountain bikers; “That is simply not comparing like with like. It seems to be part of an attempt to demonise mountain bikers.”