Survey: Riders, Nature, and Environmental Action

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This survey, funded by IMBA Europe with support from Specialized and Patagonia, aims to gather information on how mountain bikers in the UK experience and interact with the landscape and nature around them. With access rights and climate change on the policy agenda, this looks like a good opportunity to find out whether we’re all a bunch of adrenaline fuelled ne’er-do-wells, or considerate nature lovers. It’s a fairly long winded survey, so maybe make a cup of tea before you start.

Here’s the press release:

A rider survey is open until the end of May to gather responses to help understand how UK riders experience nature while riding, awareness of environmental threats in trail locations, and motivations to engage with land management and nature pressures facing trail locations in the UK.

It’s widely recognised that appreciating and experiencing nature is a central motivation for mountain biking. The extent to which this riding experience deepens connections with trail locations and translates into motivations to protect nature in these places has not been researched.

Whether it’s reducing impacts or leading nature restoration projects in trail locations, or voting for environmental policy, riders can support action at all scales as guardians of trails for future generations. It’s time to understand how this can become a greater part of the riding experience.

Complete the survey and enter the prize draw to win a Patagonia Dirt Roamer Bike Pack and a Trail Matters photo book by Filip Zuan.

This research project has received the Protect & Preserve award as part of IMBA Europe’s ‘Take Care of Your Trails’ campaign, which focuses on conservation and restoration efforts and is supported by Patagonia and Specialized’s Soil Searching Programme.

Author Profile Picture
Hannah Dobson

Managing Editor

I came to Singletrack having decided there must be more to life than meetings. I like all bikes, but especially unusual ones. More than bikes, I like what bikes do. I think that they link people and places; that cycling creates a connection between us and our environment; bikes create communities; deliver freedom; bring joy; and improve fitness. They're environmentally friendly and create friendly environments. I try to write about all these things in the hope that others might discover the joy of bikes too.

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Viewing 34 posts - 1 through 34 (of 34 total)
  • Survey: Riders, Nature, and Environmental Action
  • weeksy
    Full Member

    Done…. some of the questions were poor…. i expect my answers will make the person getting the data cry…. not with happiness.

    I think i care a LOT less than the survey hopes.

    thisisnotaspoon
    Free Member

    Done…. some of the questions were poor…. i expect my answers will make the person getting the data cry…. not with happiness.

    I think i care a LOT less than the survey hopes.

    Same in other hobbies though. There’s always going to be a range of people. e.g. Surfing covers everyone from a bunch of environmentalists at Saltburn setting up Surfers Against Sewage, to people who’ll drive to Cornwall every weekend, to people who’ll frequently fly all over the world. For a sport that on it’s own has even less impact than riding a bike (because no erosion).

    I’ll be interested to see the results and what they use them for. Or if it’s just an interesting way to get people to reconsider their impact.

    ads678
    Full Member

    I got really bored with it and didn’t finish it even though I actually care quite a bit.

    mrlebowski
    Free Member

    Done.

    DaveyBoyWonder
    Free Member

    Done – not sure if it was just me but found the wording of some of the questions a little odd…

    chrismac
    Full Member

    Done. It’s definitely written to get a predetermined answer though. Some of the questions none of the answers were suitable

    towzer
    Full Member

    Done, but given lots of free text answers I think it will be hard to get information cheaply or quickly and I’m not sure how lots and lots of free text can be meaningfully utilised

    finephilly
    Free Member

    I still feel pretty ignorant about the local ecology (where I ride), so welcome any knowledge in that area.

    chrismac
    Full Member

    I found the whole premise a bit misleading given how little of the U.K. it’s actually a natural landscape. Certainly where I ride in the Peak District it’sa completely man made environment and very little a natural environment

    mattsccm
    Free Member

    I gave up. Too long winded, obvious agenda, too many closed answers. Seems like someone has an axe to grind or needs to justify some money

    prettygreenparrot
    Full Member

    Ugh. Too long. Dreadful on mobile.

    donkeymagic
    Full Member

    Agree with so many other people on here, its far too long (I did complete it but the 7+ minute statement at the beginning made me laugh) but the answers were far too limiting and as someone else stated the free text sections I added a lot of feedback which will most likely be completely ignored with the bullet points only being the ones that matter.

    A point of contention for me was the section of how Mountain Biking is causing damage and do I agree….ultimately this depends on the person in control of the mountain bike plus where and how you ride exactly the same as someone going for a walk or greenlaning or horse riding, its the minority that cause a lot of the issues not the group as a whole.

    nickc
    Full Member

    too long…waaaaay too long.

    thisisnotaspoon
    Free Member

    Mountain bikers having an existential crisis filling in an environmental survey:

    DT78
    Free Member

    wrong thread

    munrobiker
    Free Member

    I think i care a LOT less than the survey hopes.

    That’s pretty clear from how you post here.

    It does surprise me how few mountain bikers give a shit about the environment. You can see it at every trail centre where there’s vans, and on here with the rampant purchasing of new parts/bikes and all the threads about SUVs. Mountain biking led me to using bikes for transport when I was a teenager and it’s never gone away. Bikes are the answer to so many of the world’s existential problems and yet loads of people riding them don’t care. We’re in a climate crisis and everyone should be doing better, not being blasé about how little they care about the environment.

    To me personally, mountain biking has connected me to nature and is why I love it so much. I can see why not everyone’s into that and it must be why dark, grim commercial forests like the Tweed Valley are such hotspots for riding rather than nicer places with more wildlife and scenery.

    chrismac
    Full Member

    It does surprise me how few mountain bikers give a shit about the environment.

    Why do you say that? I’m intrigued. Speaking for myself, and I suspect others, I ride because it’s fun enjoyable way to spend my free time and disposable income. I don’t ride for any environmental reasons because fundamentally there is nothing environmentally friendly about riding a bike around the countryside for fun.

    DickBarton
    Full Member

    Perhaps not, but it is more environmentally friendly than driving a car or van around the countryside just to go for a drive and see the scenery from the road or roadside…

    I can see and agree with @munrobiker’s comments, but I think (based on what I see out on the trails), if the rider has been riding since the late 80s/90s then they are likely to have a bit more thought about the environment…the ‘younger’ riders don’t seem to be as interested or as bothered. End of the day, almost all of this is riding bikes is great fun, but the fun gets measured differently for many people.

    As an example – skidding…at the start of this sport, skidding was a massive no-no as it ripped up the terrain, created erosion spots and visually scarred the terrain. Landowners used it frequently as a means of limiting access for mountain bikers…as time went on, we got access to forests and used the forest roads (before trail centres came about) and we also used the hills, but you would always get a shiver when you passed skids on the ground as you know the next group of walkers or land owner staff you passed, you’d be getting your ear bent for the damage.

    Apparently nowadays, skidding has to be done as you can’t get round corners without doing it and the really skinny ribbons of trail that used to be are now motorway-wide barren patches as people cut the corners they can’t ride or skid and open up the corner to straight-line it all…and apparently this is how we should all be riding (going by what I get told). Likewise, the ‘newer’ riders now seem to think it is absolutely fine to dig up anywhere and build jumps (where the trail was a challenge before, it then got turned into a straight road so they decided to build stuff to make it a challenge again (had a bit of a verbal doing by someone who was absolutely convinced the SOAC allowed him to build jumps where ever he liked (which he did, but mainly on existing very well established footpaths in some local woods – and he couldn’t understand why the local walkers and council had gone in and removed his ‘work’).

    Loads of examples like that – apparently things evolve but in this case, I think they’ve regressed – which is a shame, but not much can be done as a single voice. I’m sure some riders will have some realisation at some point, but others will remain oblivious to it all.

    Too many people these days, the environment part means very little to them which is a shame. To others, it still means a lot, but the ratio does seem to be spilling over to the ‘not bothered about it’

    chrismac
    Full Member

    Perhaps not, but it is more environmentally friendly than driving a car or van around the countryside just to go for a drive and see the scenery from the road or roadside

    Maybe maybe not. My parents going for a drive to look at the countryside could easily be less than me driving up into the Peak District every weekend

    thisisnotaspoon
    Free Member

    Why do you say that? I’m intrigued. Speaking for myself, and I suspect others, I ride because it’s fun enjoyable way to spend my free time and disposable income. I don’t ride for any environmental reasons because fundamentally there is nothing environmentally friendly about riding a bike around the countryside for fun.

    Because if you put MTBers into categories there’s probably
    1) Those that cycled as a mode of transport, and it extends to a hobby
    2) Those that enjoyed the countryside, and bikes generally allow you to go the furthest compared to on foot or horseback (it’s also cheaper than the latter).
    3) Simply as an activity

    As a proportion 3 probably makes up a fair amount now, but ~20 years ago the idea of driving somewhere to ride wasn’t anywhere near as engrained in the sport.

    fundamentally there is nothing environmentally friendly about riding a bike around the countryside for fun.

    Doesn’t need to be in for a penny in for a pound though.

    The carbon footprint of a complete bike is give or take 1000 car kilometers, 170g/km (just in fuel, not counting making the car or the roads), 170kgCO2e per bike (according to Trek). That’s less than a roundtrip to Wales or Scotland.

    Similarly it doesn’t have to be ridden in an environmentally insensitive way / in sensitive environments.

    nickc
    Full Member

    It does surprise me how few mountain bikers give a shit about the environment.

    and

    it must be why dark, grim commercial forests like the Tweed Valley are such hotspots for riding rather than nicer places with more wildlife and scenery.

    Aren’t necessarily opposites. I’d rather personally ride in post industrial (Hebden Bridge) landscapes and otherwise unloved plantations (often on steep sided valleys  and hillsides good for little or nothing else) with land that can be built on, so the impact of trail building is lessened  rather than bucolic unspoiled scenery. Which TBF, there’s so little of which left in this country that most of it is protected and off limits anyway.

    munrobiker
    Free Member

    Why do you say that?

    Well, as one example, I don’t understand why people who ride a bike for fun don’t then think “oh, I’ll ride the bike for transport”. They know they like riding bikes. They know riding a bike for transport has a positive environmental effect. But instead they drive. And usually a van, to take their bike to somewhere that may well be in riding distance of their start point.

    Similarly, if you’re riding round in nature would you not want to do something to protect it in your wider life? To preserve the environment you like riding in? Or would you be content with a really exciting trail surrounded by buildings and not care about the setting and your impact on it?

    chrismac
    Full Member

    ~20 years ago the idea of driving somewhere to ride wasn’t anywhere near as engrained in the sport.

    Again that might well be true for you. In my case I have being driving to the Peak District most weekends for that same time period. It’s a hour or so each way. I virtually never ride from home as the trails across farm files that make up my local bridleways hold zero interest for me.

    I’d rather personally ride in post industrial (Hebden Bridge) landscapes and otherwise unloved plantations

    fair enough but I would argue neither of these are natural landscapes or environments, both are man made, just in different ways

    ayjaydoubleyou
    Full Member

    I don’t understand why people who ride a bike for fun don’t then think “oh, I’ll ride the bike for transport”. They know they like riding bikes. They know riding a bike for transport has a positive environmental effect. But instead they drive. And usually a van, to take their bike to somewhere that may well be in riding distance of their start point.

    riding bikes is fun in a number of different ways. Not everyone who finds one aspect fun will find all the others fun.
    There’s no reason that Someone who likes steep technical descents through muddy forests would also necessarily like bashing out an hour long commute on a road bike. Okay there might be a small amount of fitness carry over but nothing that makes these things comparable aside from being on a 2 wheeled unpowered vehicle.
    They might like both, and also, like most of the population, like neither.

    I gave up road riding when I realised the bits I liked (hard short efforts, countryside, brief periods of high speed adrenaline, sociable group rides) were also achieved in xc mtb. And that opened up the rest of the spectrum of off reading for me.
    A decade later, clearing a new feature or riding a new trail is more of an achievement than completing a century.

    ayjaydoubleyou
    Full Member

    Also, regarding the survey. Tried and gave up. Stupid short millennial attention span.

    I have remembered there was something with similar wording “connecting with nature” and all that coming up quite a bit, on the pink site or possibly enduromag a year or so ago.

    I think we unpicked that “connection with nature” had some vastly differing interpretations depending on your country. The Germans took it to be just a general love of beeing outdoors (ie jogging round your local park would qualify), whereas I was thinking more along the lines of the flower or bird or mountain sunset enthusiast who just happened to use a bike to get in to the wilderness.

    thisisnotaspoon
    Free Member

    Okay there might be a small amount of fitness carry over but nothing that makes these things comparable aside from being on a 2 wheeled unpowered vehicle.

    I like go-karting

    I hate commuting by car

    I like riding bikes

    I tolerate commuting by bike (it’s fun sometimes, but sometimes it’s a chore).

    You don’t have to enjoy something to conclude it’s better for yourself, society and the environment. The question in that case is, what’s stopping people who have all the fitness and equipment to ride to work, from doing so?

    chrismac
    Full Member

    Well, as one example, I don’t understand why people who ride a bike for fun don’t then think “oh, I’ll ride the bike for transport”.

    Becuase the office is a 40 minute drive away on the days I go. I also hate riding on the roads getting buzzed by traffic and wet if the weather is inclement, and I hate winter dark and cold. Then there is the faff of changing when you get to the office and it takes longer. I would rather stay in bed longer and drive in the morning in a nice comfortable car.

    munrobiker
    Free Member

    I would rather stay in bed longer and drive in the morning in a nice comfortable car.

    Good. The planet loves you for it.

    ayjaydoubleyou
    Full Member

    You don’t have to enjoy something to conclude it’s better for yourself, society and the environment. The question in that case is, what’s stopping people who have all the fitness and equipment to ride to work, from doing so?

    fair point, we all do things we don’t enjoy.

    but how many people are car-free bike commuters PURELY for environmental reasons. I’d wager cost saving, enjoyment of cycling, and for city dwellers* – time saving; to be far greater reasons for the majority.

    Whem I worked in Cambridge, I’d cycle to work as it was quicker. I’d then go home, get changed, switch to the nice bike (no chance I would have left this outside in town) and go out for a ride I enjoyed.

    Bruce
    Full Member

    When I had a job it was 40mins to drive to work, about 45 mins by bus and about 40 mins by bike. It was only 7 miles to work but the bus and the car left me stressed The bike made me smile ready for coffee and to face the day.
    If you just ride man made trails and honey pots you miss so much. When riding in Scotland and else where we have bumped into Moutain and brown hares, lots of deer of various sorts, cuckoo, crested tits, red squirel, stoats, weazels, shrews toads, adders, grass snakes, and moles.

    Highlight for me was carrying my bike up the steps to cross a foot bridge near Balater and being nose to nose with a stoat who was using the bridge.

    If you look about you and ride in wild palces it will enrich your life.

    chrismac
    Full Member

    Good. The planet loves you for it.

    It can thank me later.

    nidderdalenath
    Full Member

    Done, I hope the creators of the survey get something meaningful out of it.

    nickfrog
    Free Member

    Good. The planet loves you for it.

    I have a theory that this kind of judgemental attitude makes others care even less about the environment. I think it is massively counter productive.

    daveylad
    Free Member

    With the so called ‘climate crisis’ mentioned in the first paragraph I can tell the sort of answers they are angling for.
    No thanks.
    Thought it was a climate EMERGENCY now, or it it global warming or cooling or just the weather.
    I’m just going to keep riding my emtb for the enjoyment of riding thanks.

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