Campaign is underway to increase countryside access

Cycling campaign group Cycling UK seem to have spotted an area by which mountain bikers and other cyclists might just might just benefit from Brexit.

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The news might be full of doom and gloom when it comes to the subject of Britain leaving the EU, but Cycling UK’s new “Beyond the Green Belt” report, published a few days ago, outlines how the government’s post-Brexit agricultural funding strategy could see public access increase significantly. This new level of access coming by way of landowners and farmers being paid to improve rights of way and signage across huge swathes of land. Something the Environment Secretary, Michael Gove MP, put across to the Oxford Farming Conference in his speech in January.

Better access and more routes

Okay, this isn’t going to see landowners suddenly building bike parks and trail centres all over the place. But will hopefully see mountain bikers and other trail users gain significantly more access to England and Wales’ Right of Way network. Of which, over 80 percent of which isn’t currently open to cyclists or horse riders. Where mountain bikers are most likely to see the positive impacts is in the potential changing of lots of little bits of footpath into bridleways. Meaning less ‘cheeky’ navigation of footpaths and keeping riders off the roads. Bridleways are pretty much the lifeblood of the British mountain biking scene, and before you start conjuring up images of boring featureless paths, a lot of our very best trails are on this type of route. And again, it’s worth pointing out that there are no proposals to sanitise new trails, but to keep them pretty much as they are. Which is ‘a good thing’.

The opening up of access will then see more long and short distance off-road routes being created, much like the fabled South Down’s Way. It, alongside the Pennine Bridleway long distance route, make up the only two of the UK’s fifteen strong National Trail network of long distance routes open to mountain bikers.

Paul Tuohy, Cycling UK’s chief executive states:

“Let’s be bold and look to create more signposted trails accessible for all countryside lovers, like the South Downs Way. The Government thought big for HS2 – let’s do the same for access and create routes, short and long distance, which will allow more people to leave their cars and enjoy the great British outdoors.”

Cycling UK, alongside OpenMTB have been at the spearhead of the “Trails for Wales” open access campaign and has been campaigning for cyclist’s rights under their old guise of the CTC (Cyclist’s Touring Club) for well over a hundred years. Not just for bearded tourers and roadies, Cycling UK look to be taking a strong positive position towards improving the riding options for mountain bikers. Take a look at their website for a more detailed look at what they do for us.

Could this be the a glimpse of a positive impact from Brexit?