How 'accessible' is mountain biking compared to other sports?

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  • How 'accessible' is mountain biking compared to other sports?
  • cybicle
    Member

    Actually, it has been shown in the US that greater numbers of mountain bikers has, in the higher population density areas (like the UK), let to greater restrictions and reduced access.

    Got any info on that? Bear in mind that the UK isn’t the USA; Scotland and Wales already have better access than England, as do many other European countries, and this hasn’t led to greater restrictions, more that people can spread out more and use more trails.

    Improved transport provision? Can you clarify that please?

    Sure; transport provision is based on need, current and predicted. More cars = more roads being built. More people needing/wanting to access other areas with bikes would therefore surely lead to increased need for transport, which means more revenue for transport providers and the treasury. This is already happening in urban areas; more cyclists has led to increased cycling provision, and an improvement (albeit not great) in provision for cyclists on public transport.

    The thread is about mountain biking specifically, not cycling in general.

    Mountain biking is part of a greater cycling whole.

    I still don’t see why mountain biking must be seen to be accessible?

    So you’d prefer accessibility to remain as it is, or be less accessible even? Care to expand on that? So because you can’t see a benefit to you personally, you don’t believe anything should change? Isn’t that a somewhat blinkered and selfish attitude to have (it’s fine, you’re entitled to think as you wish)? Considering that other contributors to this thread believe there should be greater accessibility.

    greater numbers of people on the trails leading to less of a feeling of getting away from the world (which is mostly why I ride offroad as opposed to on the road).

    What makes you more entitled to enjoy mountain biking than others?

    Premier Icon ahwiles
    Subscriber

    maybe it’s a bit like fell running…

    if you’re the kind of berk who’ll enjoy hacking around in the mud and cold, you’ll probably end up in a fell-race / on a mountain bike sooner or later anyway, no matter how much (or little) encouragement you recieve (or don’t).

    I think we need to define a few things:

    Cycling as a method of transport is very accessible, and I would argue that this is almost universally known, and there seems to be no kind of demographic restriction that I know of. Walk round any major urban area and you will see people from all different ethnicities, both sexes, and from bankers to street cleaners using bikes as transport. An increase in people using bikes as transport generally leads to an increase in funding in populated areas for dedicated cycle lanes, greater provision and awareness of cyclists amongst motorised traffic, and so on. This is a Good Thing.

    Cycling as a recreational/leisure activity is very separate from this, especially mountain biking, and I still don’t see why it needs to promote itself as especially accessible? The benefits to the general population as a whole come from increased general cycle use, as opposed to specifically participating in it as a leisure activity.

    Premier Icon jameso
    Subscriber

    the mountain biking ‘media’ is that it appears almost exclusively to comprise that very demographic which seems to be the most dominant within the sport.

    Agreed there. The majority of the bike industry is blokes 30-50 making toys for people like themselves or where they see the mass market. Product genres and marketing/media categorization are a bit of a circular thing and make it hard for many riders to see beyond variations on a narrow range of themes. But then we’re onto the points above about cycling in general rather that the ‘sport’ of MTB. And I’ll start sounding like Grant Peterson (or a less informed or witty version of).
    Edit to add, get people into bikes via MTB and they may see cyclists on the road/in town differently or start using bikes as transport too, so I see it as all linked to some extent.

    Premier Icon njee20
    Subscriber

    And the new Olympic velodrome in London has fantastic public transport links

    Just a shame you can’t take bikes on most of them!

    Cycling as a method of transport is very accessible, and I would argue that this is almost universally known, and there seems to be no kind of demographic restriction that I know of. Walk round any major urban area and you will see people from all different ethnicities, both sexes, and from bankers to street cleaners using bikes as transport. An increase in people using bikes as transport generally leads to an increase in funding in populated areas for dedicated cycle lanes, greater provision and awareness of cyclists amongst motorised traffic, and so on. This is a Good Thing.

    Cycling as a recreational/leisure activity is very separate from this, especially mountain biking, and I still don’t see why it needs to promote itself as especially accessible? The benefits to the general population as a whole come from increased general cycle use, as opposed to specifically participating in it as a leisure activity.

    This was my point. I see few benefits from more people taking up mountain biking. The vast majority will drive to trails, so the roads and the trails are busier, the public perception of cyclists gets degraded in many circumstances because of the volume of people getting in their way (see Surrey residents example), whilst the actual provision for these people changes very slightly (again, Surrey hills example).

    I love riding around my locale, but it wouldn’t be improved by more people doing it. Not one iota!

    Utility cycling, absolutely, cycle superhighways – great, Sky Ride/Go Ride events, brilliant, all for that sort of thing. But that’s not mountain biking.

    This thread must have the longest average post length of any I’ve seen!

    njee, we seem to have the almost identical view. Wonder why we seem to be the only ones?

    Regards to my earlier comments about reduced access and increased restrictions coming with more mountain bikers, see most of California as an example (read about it on the MTBR forums, particularly the areas around Marin County), Vancouver’s North Shore area – hell, even Swinley Forest can fall under that umbrella.

    Premier Icon ahwiles
    Subscriber

    most many of the trails i ride would benefit from more traffic – it’d keep the foliage back…

    spockrider
    Member

    [quoteNow you’re talking about creating trails, as opposed to using what’s already there/organic development, which opens up a whole new field of discussion. Should be be creating more place to ride bikes?[/quote]

    Yes, in that there are many areas that are used by off road cyclists which could be better utilised. example, I have acres of playground in my area and there’s a large population of would be, could be mountain bikers that don’t even know that you can actually ride the bridleways and forest tracks. I might see 1 or 2 horse riders and some signage that says bridleway or byeway but how many people see a cycle sign. Bridle still implies horses not cyclists.
    When I started mountain biking I did a lot of research into local accessible areas and what I found was lacking. Interestingly horse riders are looking for clearly defined loop rides too so horse riders and mountain bikers are actually sharing a common interest in a lot of respects.

    Walkers and ramblers can be elitist and down right intimidating if there are enough of them but there are rumblings in the woods against them from some woodland authorities because they leave dog mess behind. If dog owning walkers are becoming an issue then it seems to be a golden opportunity to me, for owners to invite more cyclists into the area. It is a contentious issue but there will come a point where landowners will be welcoming us as we don’t chase animals and leave mess bags. It also opens a question which is IF more trails were signed and linked better, would some of those ramblers or walkers take up mountain biking? I honestly think some would have a go if those bridleways were clearly marked to say we could use them. There is a golden world of great opportunity out in those woods, on the hills and down the lane which some public clarity would go a long way to helping avoid conflicts between users, especially the walkers who use all paths and stick to the rules of the signage like clay to a tyre when issues arise. How many signs do I see for cyclists across the Quantocks? None! The lack of indicates to other users that we are not allowed to cycle off road, when we can and it does nothing to encourage local people and visitors to get up there and ride which has an effect on local bike retailers who need the sales and local tourism which communities need.

    Shared clearly marked trails encourage other users to be less territorial, so yes again we need more trails, with clear grading indicators marked on posts. The industry needs to sell bikes but people won’t upgrade their machines or buy for their families if they can’t find some nice single track and a few jumps outside of the confines of the local skate/bmx park, which get ‘owned’ territorially by the local kids. That same sense of ownership soon transfers to trails that don’t mark shared access. If a trail is illegal then MTBers should expect to initiate sort of conflict they won’t like at some point.

    I personally think that the higher ranks of the MTB community needs to step back a bit and remember that most people start riding with a bimble amongst mates or family. The majority do not take up DH or Cyclocross or XC as a serious sport until they have learnt some skills. We all learn skills by riding with and watching others and if we want to share trails with good riders with great ability we all need to share the space and have more space to share. No one is going to go out and buy that expensive bike if they are not welcome on those trails and that really is no good for sales at the top end.
    The Bike industry as a whole does cater for all abilities and financial levels but being elitist and territorial switches off the interest of people who might have taken up the sport and stayed with it.
    I work in the vehicle industry where elitism has become a bit of a yawn and all those top end sales gimmicks have cost people so much money in theft and maintenance they wish they’d bought an old banger. The MTB industry has gone the same route and will inadvertently price some people out of some activities from fear of not having the latest high tech equipment. At base level newbies will be scared off the trails because they don’t match up to an ill defined standard set by those who just push the top end fashions. None of it is very encouraging to newbies or riders coming back into cycling and not good for the industry at any level on and off the trails.
    The better we share and promote our MTB activities with other people, the less hold the elitist, possessive attitudes will have over those trails.

    Diversity comes with sharing, teaching and learning and encouragement from other people. If people want to ride or walk in solitude that’s up to them but the vast majority enjoy the nod or hello of other people they meet. If we didn’t we would all hang up our bikes and walkers would hang up their boots.
    It’s only a minority that won’t accept others and fears are often based on one singular incident, not conflict every time they walk or ride in the country. It’s a fact often overlooked.

    A lot of what is getting discussed here in terms of improving accessibility just sounds to me like hand-holding and making things easier for people who can’t be bothered to find out for themselves. If I decide to take up a sport or activity because it looks interesting, I expect to have to put some effort into doing some research into it, not simply have everything spoon-fed to me. Why does mountain biking have to be different?

    cybicle
    Member

    Just a shame you can’t take bikes on most of them!

    Bicycles are permitted (with certain conditions) on the Central Line (from Leyton eastwards), the Jubilee Line, the DLR and most trains through Stratford station. It’s only the Central Line from Stratford westwards and buses you can’t take bikes on. So, I’d say it has fantastic public transport links compared to a lot of other venues, and certainly to most other cycle venues.

    I see few benefits from more people taking up mountain biking

    Even though several have already been suggested?

    The vast majority will drive to trails

    Really? Do you have any evidence to suggest this? Do most mountain bikers already mainly drive to get to their trails?

    I love riding around my locale, but it wouldn’t be improved by more people doing it. Not one iota!

    So, it’s ok that you do it, but not for newcomers? Would you be willing to stop riding those trails in order to allow others to do so?

    I personally think that the higher ranks of the MTB community needs to step back a bit and remember that most people start riding with a bimble amongst mates or family. The majority do not take up DH or Cyclocross or XC as a serious sport until they have learnt some skills. We all learn skills by riding with and watching others and if we want to share trails with good riders with great ability we all need to share the space and have more space to share.

    I think that’s one of the best comments so far. I got into mountain biking through being invited to come on rides by others. I imagine many others started off this way too.

    njee, we seem to have the almost identical view. Wonder why we seem to be the only ones?

    If you want my personal opinion, I think it’s because both of you have an elitist and exclusive attitude towards mountain biking. You both seem to think it’s ok for you to ride, but don’t welcome the idea of others joining in. That strikes me as somewhat selfish if you don’t mind me saying. And it’s this very attitude which some people might see as a barrier to them participating. Would you prefer a system whereby you need to be a member of a small and exclusive club, and ride only on designated trails on private land? Because surely if you’re going to ride in areas with general public access, then you’re going to have to share. I hear your concerns about mountain biking becoming ‘too popular’, and I do think this is an issue which has to be taken into consideration, in terms of helping minimising/preventing environmental damage.

    A lot of what is getting discussed here in terms of improving accessibility just sounds to me like hand-holding and making things easier for people who can’t be bothered to find out for themselves

    Well, I for one am grateful for such ‘hand holding’ as you put it, although I will make every effort to find information on places to ride. It’s the efforts of the wider mountain biking ‘community’ that I’ve benefitted from, which i see as a very positive thing.

    If I decide to take up a sport or activity because it looks interesting, I expect to have to put some effort into doing some research into it, not simply have everything spoon-fed to me.

    But surely you will be reliant upon the efforts of others to provide you with information, equipment and resources, no?

    Diversity comes with sharing, teaching and learning and encouragement from other people. If people want to ride or walk in solitude that’s up to them but the vast majority enjoy the nod or hello of other people they meet. If we didn’t we would all hang up our bikes and walkers would hang up their boots.
    It’s only a minority that won’t accept others and fears are often based on one singular incident, not conflict every time they walk or ride in the country. It’s a fact often overlooked.

    Word. 8)

    Premier Icon crazy-legs
    Subscriber

    Not necessarily. I don’t see anyone driving to the bmx tracks near me. And the new Olympic velodrome in London has fantastic public transport links. And trail centres built nearer to urban areas would be more accessible by bike. There are problems, but there are also solutions.

    Going off topic slightly but at Manchester they’ve run surveys for years on all sorts of aspects of the people using the facilities (indoor velodrome, indoor BMX track plus other non-biking stuff – badminton, Wattbike etc) and the results are consistent in that about 90% of people coming to the facility to take part in track or BMX (as opposed to watching an event) drive there.

    Public transport isn’t bad – there are tram and bus stops right by it and a station about a mile away.

    Really? Do you have any evidence to suggest this? Do most mountain bikers already mainly drive to get to their trails?

    Anecdotal evidence based on my own experiences over the last 20 years I’ve been MTBing…
    Unless I’m riding from the door, I will always drive and so will most other people that I know. About the only exception would be using the train that goes from Manchester to Sheffield – I’ve trained it out into the Peak and ridden home a few times but if I was meeting friends in Hope or Edale, I’d drive simply to fit in the kit. Toolbox, pump, clothes for afterwards etc etc. Certainly if I wanted to go biking in the Lakes, Dales, Wales etc, I’d drive from here, wouldn’t even consider public transport.

    But surely you will be reliant upon the efforts of others to provide you with information, equipment and resources, no?

    This is an interesting one and it’s changed completely in the last 2 decades thanks to the internet and then to social media.

    I got into MTBing through a mate at school (although I’d always had a bike and loved riding). So we went “MTBing” together – round the local woods or whatever and I got all the information I needed from maagzines (MBUK) and from my local cycle club who, fortunately, had a couple of very willing volunteers who took local rides out, drove people to races or events (or just further afield for rides) and did what some are terming hand-holding.

    Nowadays, I don’t *need* any of that – I can look online for routes, rides, people to ride with, I can instantly find details of a trail centre, book a hotel online, drive up there and ride without ever actually needing to talk to or meet anyone so in that sense it’s more accessible than ever. Where it’s not accessible is what the club aspect used to provide to me – that sense of community and hand holding and education and support and ideas for going places and doing things. Are people relying too much on online interaction rather than the real thing? Is there a lack of accessibility because people are more nervous about “the great outdoors” now? Not sure…

    Premier Icon cinnamon_girl
    Subscriber

    I struggle with long sentences but it seems to me that some of you are making it unnecessarily complicated!

    I went out for a ride today in the overcrowded Southern part of the country and didn’t see one person on the trails.

    Sometimes, just sometimes, you can’t always hold peoples hands. 😐

    Edit: I just decided that I fancied getting a bike, after all my own kids had enjoyed bikes for years. Went out on my own into the countryside and, yes, I am a woman and, no, it didn’t stop me.

    I can look back on around 15 years of exploring the countryside, seen some fantastic places and shared some of my routes with folk on here. It’s really not difficult. 🙂

    Premier Icon crazy-legs
    Subscriber

    I went out for a ride today in the overcrowded Southern part of the country and didn’t see one person on the trails.

    That’s because all the proper MTBers were at WORK.
    That thing they have to do to afford the £5000 MTBs they’re told they need to venture further than the cafe at Peaslake.

    And all the non-MTBers were too busy being scared about the great outdoors (or ignorant of its existence) to get there.

    😉

    Premier Icon cinnamon_girl
    Subscriber

    You naughty man crazy-legs. 😀

    Premier Icon cinnamon_girl
    Subscriber

    Can I also say that njee makes a good point by asking why we should introduce it to others.

    Premier Icon njee20
    Subscriber

    Really? Do you have any evidence to suggest this? Do most mountain bikers already mainly drive to get to their trails?

    No peer reviewed PhD theses I’m afraid. There’s plenty of anecdotal evidence. Look at Strava – how many MTB rides start from anywhere other than the main car parks at a location – very few.

    So, it’s ok that you do it, but not for newcomers? Would you be willing to stop riding those trails in order to allow others to do so?

    You love misquoting me to suit your point don’t you? I said it wouldn’t improve it, not that I don’t welcome it. I don’t really drive to the trails anyway. I sometimes drive a bit closer, but not to the trails themselves – I get a better ride, and avoid getting caught up with everyone else who does drive to the trails.

    No I wouldn’t be prepared to stop riding local trails solely so other people can, well done for your philanthropy. No problem with you calling me selfish, probably am. I will nurture new riders – two friends have got into riding in the last year and I’ve offered both advice, been riding with them etc, but I really struggle with seeing any environmental benefit to folk taking up mountain biking, and you’ve yet to offer anything whatsoever.

    edlong
    Member

    The majority do not take up DH or Cyclocross or XC as a serious sport until they have learnt some skills. at all, ever.

    FTFY

    I reckon the majority are quite happy going for rambles on bikes. That’s as accessible as you need it to be I suppose.

    spockrider
    Member

    two wrote:

    Surely the more people who ride, the better the chances of keeping and gaining more access to MTBers. The benefits of new facilities comes with a positive environmental trade off as new trail hubs and users allow environmentally sensitive areas to be left for the wildlife and people wanting their solitary pursuits.
    Also creating used trails (with permissions) opens wildlife corridors. If people don’t use the countryside, large areas soon become overgrown and covered in debris, bramble and invasive weeds like knotweed. That is no good for walkers, riders or the wildlife and becomes expensive to keep clearing. Good footfall and tyres on tracks helps to keep areas open to all. Encouraging more people to take up MTB leisure also helps reduce the damage done by motorbikes and scramblers ridden by people, who like us, enjoy riding on two wheels, but who make a hell of a lot of noise. I think local authorities and inhabitants would much prefer MTBers to use those green areas as we are kinder to the environment and pose less problems to wildlife.

    Premier Icon njee20
    Subscriber

    So more riders means more ‘facilities’ to ride – but that means we can leave sensitive areas alone (which I’m for). So you’re saying more riders = less space to ride? Not convinced…

    Know what you’re getting at though.

    crikey
    Member

    Mountain biking as practised by STWers is almost totally dependent on car use. There are a few folk fortunate enough to be able to ride from the door, but the success of Llandegla, Lee Quarry, Gisburn, all the Stanes and other ‘centres’ that escape me, plus the Lakes, the Peak, name your honey pot are all places that are driven to.

    The ‘environmental’ benefit?

    Premier Icon Rusty Spanner
    Subscriber

    I reckon most of us would be out in the hills anyway if bikes hadn’t been thought of.
    And MTB’ing from home must be more realistic than hillwalking from home?

    Premier Icon scotroutes
    Subscriber

    rusty wrote:

    Crikey, I suspect that most of us would be out in the hills anyway if bikes hadn’t been thought of.

    Not sure I’d agree with that. At one end of the spectrum you have the 2-wheeled ramblers like myself – at the other end there are folk who are primarily in it for the adrenaline and would be doing some other activity altogether.

    crosshair
    Member

    There is a false assumption that people driving to trail centres wouldn’t instead be driving somewhere else. If ‘somewhere else’ was less healthy than cycling then it’s still a net health benefit.
    Also, someone interested in cycling is far more likely to watch what they eat, exercise in other ways and generally look after themselves to enhance their cycling experience.

    oldnick
    Member

    I haven’t read all of this so forgive me if the point has been made already;

    I used to ride MX, for that you needed a bike, car+trailer or van, a lot of kit, practice track/race fees, etc etc. The average (median) punter was a (dons flameproof suit) working class white scrote. It’s not that they couldn’t afford a nice MTB and the means to get to good places to ride it, it’s that they didn’t aspire to do so. Similar to the idea that ethnic minorities don’t aspire to mountain biking and therefore don’t participate.

    So not so much inaccessible as undesirable.

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