State of the Nation Off-road Cycling survey launched
The new survey wants to get a better idea of where we’re all riding currently with a view to expanding bikers’ currently rather restrictive access to the countryside.
Through the survey, Cycling UK (formerly the CTC) wants to understand whether the current system of Rights of Way causes unnecessary confusion or alienates new riders.
Wrongs of Way
Under current laws cyclists have a right to use a mere 22% of England’s rights of way network, and just 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 at all 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.
Increasing access for bikes
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 allow the organisations to 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.
Some sample survey questions
- How many years have you been cycling off road?
- How often do you ride on the following types of trail: Shared use trails, Dedicated MTB trails, Public footpath, Bridleway, Undesignated trails, Trails whose status I don’t know.
- If you ride on footpaths and undesignated trails, please explain why.
- Do you record your off-road rides on a GPS device?
- How many bikes do you own?
- Have you experienced conflict with other trail users in the past two years?
- How do you get to most of your rides?
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.”
OpenMTB representative Stace King, who led on development of the survey, said: “We’re calling on all off-road cyclists, from family riders to mountain bikers, to complete the survey and help us make the case for better access rights. And please don’t stop there, please share the survey on social media and encourage others to do the same. We want as broad a response to this as possible.
Take the survey
The survey can be accessed at: www.cyclinguk.org/offroad-survey from 24 August, with all complete responses being entered into a prize draw for an iPad Mini.
OpenMTB: “Lots of people already feel that current access legislation doesn’t reflect what’s happening on the ground – so we want to get some solid data on the subject.”