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Is Trail Riding Damaging the Environment?

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Mountain biking causes some wear and tear to trails, but is it any more damaging than walking? Or horse riding? Jon Sparks investigates
Trail erosion
Trail erosion

When trails become eroded, mountain bikers often get the blame. I wonder about this. Is it fair? Having ridden certain trails several times myself, am I partly responsible? Well, mountain bikes certainly can cause trail erosion. But then all outdoor activities can cause erosion. Walking certainly can.

Richard Fox knows this better than most. As project officer for Fix the Fells in the Lake District, Richard oversees a long-running effort that has tackled around 160 trails so far, many of which were in a completely wrecked state. And he says that only ‘half a dozen have shown significant damage from cycle use.’
This doesn’t let mountain bikers off the hook. You could say that’s still half a dozen too many. You could also say that there are many more boots than bikes on the Lakeland Fells. The real question is how the impact of mountain bikers compares to walkers, horse-riders, motorbikers, and 4×4 drivers? What can we do to mitigate this impact? And what are the implications for policy and the Rights of Way network?

To read the full magazine article, please click on the PDF below.

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