by Hannah Dobson
February 16, 2017
You might remember us telling you about a survey being conducted by Cycling UK and OpenMTB. Maybe you’re one of the 11,482 people who completed the survey – if so, thank you for helping to give a clearer picture of the riding habits and attitudes of the MTB scene.
Today at the London Bike Show, Cycling UK is launching its report, ‘Rides of Way: Cycling UK’s Off-Road Report 2017’, based on these survey findings.
A first of its kind in the UK, Rides of Way provides unique insight into the current off-road cycling scene. Cycling UK believes the report will be of particular use to decision makers at a local and national level, major land owners, the cycling trade and campaigners who are looking for up-to-date information on the cyclists who take to the UK’s trails and tracks every day.
The report covers motivations for riding off-road, the impact it has on physical and mental health, riding habits, tourism benefits, the impact of technology and what the community believes is the best way of maximising the benefits of off-road cycling. In addition, Rides of Way looks specifically at the differences in the thoughts, attitudes and experiences of women who ride regularly.
Among the findings of the report are the following:
- Health and fitness are top motivators for riding off-road for both men (31%) and women (26.3%)
- 91% rate off-road cycling as fairly or very important for their mental health, and 90% for their physical health
- Two-thirds cycle straight from their front door to ride on Rights of Way
- One-third of cyclists ride regularly on trails whose status they do not know, with a further 74% considering the current Rights of Way unsuitable
Paul Tuohy, Cycling UK Chief Executive, said:
“Over 30% of the 3.5 million bikes sold every year in Britain are designed for off-road use. That’s a lot of people who are looking to buy a bike purely for leisure, whether that’s riding with their families or heading to the trail centres, but there have been very few organisations doing anything to represent their interests.
“It’s time someone stood up and championed this silent majority. Cycling UK’s Rides of Way report shows most people are clearly frustrated by a system which could be much more accessible. There is so much more we can do to make off-road riding easier without creating conflict, and that will be Cycling UK’s goal as it launches its off-road campaign in the spring.”
Jon Snow, Cycling UK President, said:
“Cycling UK has been at the vanguard of opening up thousands of miles of off-road access for cyclists; from winning the rights to use royal parks in 1885, to gaining the right to cycle on bridleways and long-distance cross-country routes in 1968 and successfully campaigning for the ‘Right to Roam’ in Scotland in 2003.
“Scotland has shown how it can be done with respect for all users and the environment, and for greater access to our green and pleasant land. It’s about time people in England and Wales enjoyed the benefits too.”
Tracy Moseley, Cycling UK Off-Road Ambassador and Downhill and Enduro World Champion, said:
“Cycling UK knows there’s room for vast improvement, and being sensitive to the concerns of walkers, horse riders and landowners. It is looking to work with all of these groups to open up our landscape responsibly.
“There’s a lot to be gained for everyone by increasing access: from the physical and mental health benefits for the riders to reinvigorating the rural economy through increased tourism. The winds of change are blowing in 2017 and, together with this report, I’m looking forward to helping make cycling off-road more open for everyone.”
As one of its first actions with its new campaign, Cycling UK will look to draw up codes of conduct with other user groups, such as the British Horse Society, and will promote responsible off-road cycling behaviour. Here at Singletrack, we’ve long been advocates of ‘don’t be a dick’. It doesn’t take much to slow, smile, and say thank you when passing other trail users. But let’s hope we don’t get bogged down in ‘how to behave’ campaigns at the expense of a push for increased access to our countryside. If you think you might want a formal role in this campaign, why not apply for the Off Road Access Campaigner Officer role, currently being advertised?
Hard copy versions of Rides of Way are available at Cycling UK’s stand at the London Bike Show, Stand No. LB1412, and for download at: www.bit.ly/cyclinguk-ridesofwa