Where to Ride MTB

Survey Finds Rights of Way Not Fit for Off-Road Riding

Cycling UK say 74 per cent off people say the current system doesn't work

A survey by Cycling UK and Open MTB has revealed that three quarters of participants consider the current Rights of Way system unsuitable for cyclists.

The groups opened the survey in August, closing it at the end of October. They had over 11,000 people respond and are currently analysing the results to provide a detailed recommendation.

  • 74 per cent say the current system is unsuitable
  • 90 per cent considering cycling fairly or very important for their physical health and 91 per cent fairly or very important for their mental health.
  • Under current laws cyclists have a right to use a mere 22 per cent of England’s rights of way network (21 per cent in Wales)
  • Over 50 per cent of participants chose their number one off-road campaign goal to be on “increased access”.

Currently, cyclists only have the right to use 22 per cent of the network (21 per cent in Wales). Whether a route is a footpath, a bridleway or a byway is generally determined by its history of past usage – not current suitability Some of the trails that can be used are not rideable and others that cannot be used could make for excellent riding.

Early analysis of the survey responses show that most users feel the system needs to change and over 50 per cent said that they felt the number one goal for off-road riding should be “increased access.”

The survey was completed by cyclists of all kinds, and though some use mountain biking for sport, 52 per cent said they use footpaths ‘to avoid traffic danger.’

Cycling was clearly an important part of daily life for responders, too – 90 per cent said they considered it fairly or very important for their physical health and 91 per cent fairly or very important for their mental health.

Paul Tuohy, Cycling UK’s CEO, said: “The rights of way system harks back to the era when the horse and carriage was the height of transport technology, and unfortunately it hasn’t changed much since then while the rest of the world has moved on.”

He added: “So many responses extolled the mental and physical health benefits of heading out on to the trails, and Cycling UK wants to make it easier for more people to enjoy the benefits of cycling away from traffic in the beauty of our extensive countryside.”

The road to change might be long, but Cycling UK have a long history of fighting battles effectively and improving provision for cyclists. Tuohy added: “It’s going to be quite a battle to change the outdated laws and attitudes which have prevented progress so far, but we managed it in Scotland, and with the off-road and mountain biking community’s help, we can do it too in England and Wales.”

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