SRAM is sponsoring a major new ‘UK Trails Project’, which aims to improve the sustainability of mountain bike trails across the UK.
Project Manager required
The first step in this project is to employ a Project Manager to produce a UK-wide ‘Right trail, right place, right people, right time’ report.
This report will seek to identify existing trail groups and associations in each country and to understand the opportunities to improve the management of the trail network. The report will also look at the pressures in supporting the trail network for land managers and land owners.
Just a small remit then(!)
Luckily, the Project Manager will have three years in the post – hopefully more if they identify and secure future funding – thanks to the sponsorship provided by SRAM.
DMBinS, BC, WC, FLS, FE, NRW, ORNI & SRAM
The work will be overseen by a steering group, with day-to-day management of the post being provided by Developing Mountain Biking in Scotland (DMBinS) on behalf of Scottish Cycling.
The steering group will consist of British Cycling, Welsh Cycling, Forestry and Land Scotland, Forestry England, and Natural Resources Wales, Outdoor Recreation Northern Ireland along with the project funders, SRAM.
Looking at that list, what’s not actually represented there is the majority of mountain bikers that don’t race or join their national cycling body.
However, DMBinS appears to have broadly done a good job of supporting trail building and trail associations for the benefit of the non-racing rider, so hopefully this influence – and perhaps an enthusiastic all-round mountain biker in the Project Manager role – will help balance out the race tape and number boards perspective.
Maybe we’ll see the establishment of a mountain bikers equivalent to the Ramblers or British Mountaineering Council come out of this work.
Now there’s a cat-herding task, if ever there was one.
What about wild trails?
Many land owners are likely to be more concerned about ‘wild trails’ than organised events, so it doesn’t seem like something that’s going to be lost from the agenda.
Another voice missing from the group is Cycling UK, whose focus has been on establishing access to existing paths – rather than the new wild trails being built in the woods.
Obviously you can only have so many people at a steering group before it becomes unwieldy, but given the amount of work being done by Cycling UK, particularly on the Trails for Wales campaign, it seems like there will be plenty of conversations to be had between Cycling UK and this UK Trails Project.
The access rights – and attitudes of government and local landowners – vary substantially around the UK. The job description suggests that the report produced will need to address the different needs of each nation.
It will be interesting to see how much standardisation can be established across the countries – will progress be endlessly stymied by the least accessible/most risk averse nation, or will the heel-draggers be forced to take a leap forward by those who see mountain biking as an opportunity?
Here’s what those involved are saying about it:
Graeme McLean, Head of DMBinS:
“This new project is incredibly valuable at a time when the number of mountain bikers is increasing. With around 6% of the UK population mountain biking on a regular basis, it is really important that we can support the mountain bike community to come together with governing bodies to work with land managers and owners to sustainably develop an exciting and varied trail network at all levels.
The key to this project, and role, will be the ability to share knowledge, bring people together to understand common issues and opportunities, and further develop relationships at all levels across the all UK home countries.
We are extremely grateful for the enthusiasm and passion of the steering group, along with the project funders and partners, SRAM. We are really excited to see the impact this project will have.”
Dan Cook, Forestry England’s National Cycle Infrastructure Manager:
“The UK Trails Project is an amazing opportunity to connect riders, trail associations, and land managers. It will help to improve understanding of, and see more people using, the right trails, right place, right people, right time principles.
The UK undoubtedly has some of the best riding and facilities in the world, with passionate people and limited resources, and this project can help everyone involved better manage these sustainably for the long-term.
We ultimately need a resilient off-road cycling network built and used taking account of many factors such as other users, ecology, wildlife and heritage, access, and land management requirements.”
Alex Rafferty, MTB Communications Manager for SRAM UK:
“We have been impressed with the work of DMBinS over several years, and we are delighted to play our part in helping improve the long-term sustainability of trails, and trail access, across the UK.
We believe that this project can sensitively and strategically work with mountain bikers and a range of partners to support the trail network across the UK, ultimately leading to a secure future for our trail network – the most valuable resource in mountain biking. We are excited to play our part in making this project happen.”
If you’re interested in applying for the job, it’s advertised here. It’s a fixed-term contract till end of September 2026 and the closing date for applications is 12 noon Monday 21st August 2023.
If you’re an outdoorsy/mountain bikey sort of person, it’s worth a look – the person specification is much more about trail and access knowledge than it is any project management tools.
It looks like a massive job with a world of opportunity for bringing about some exciting change if you can get the will and momentum behind you… or an opportunity to swim through treacle and the competing machinations of various public bodies.
Fingers crossed we see the former – we’ll be watching progress with interest.
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