Off-Road Access

SamJones's picture

Act now to Make Trails for Wales!

2 September 2015
The Welsh Government wants to improve the opportunities to access the outdoors. CTC, together with Open MTB and partners, sees this as a chance to open up the Welsh countryside while also putting pressure on England to do likewise – and we need your help!
Trails for Wales

Currently in Wales, the Rights of Way system is based upon recorded historic use of routes instead of suitability. As a result, cyclists have rights to use just 21% of the network, with permission to ride along narrow rocky sheep tracks on steep ground but denied access to thousands of miles of public footpaths lying on metalled farm and forest roads.

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SamJones's picture

"Make Wales off-road centre of UK" says cycle coalition

"Increased off-road access to rural Wales would give a healthy boost to the economy," say CTC and Open MTB.
Mountain Bikers in Wales

Today (Tuesday 1 September 2015) CTC Cymru, Open MTB, Welsh Cycling and British Cycling applauded the Welsh Government’s proposal to adopt similar rules on access to the countryside as those enjoyed in Scotland, and is calling on all outdoor enthusiasts to support their campaign Trails for Wales, which they can do at www.ctc.org.uk/campaign/trails-wales

Contact Information: 

CTC Press Office & Open MTB
0778 632 0713 or email publicity@ctc.org.uk

Notes to Editors: 

1. For further information on CTC, the UK’s largest cycling charity, inspires and helps people to cycle and keep cycling, whatever kind of cycling they do or would like to do. Over a century’s experience tells us that cycling is more than useful transport; it makes you feel good, gives you a sense of freedom and creates a better environment for everyone: www.ctc.org.uk

2. OpenMTB has been formed to act co-operatively on behalf of organisations on issues that concern mountain bikers, such as improved access rights, user group consultations, trail improvement and maintenance etc. Early in 2015 representatives from a number of mountain bike associations met journalists and industry experts from across England and Wales to see how they could work together for the benefit of our community.  In the past it has been difficult for governing bodies to consult our diverse community due to the lack of a single point of contact, and OpenMTB was formed as a result. www.facebook.com/OpenMTB / www.twitter.com/OpenMTB 

3. The Welsh Government’s consultation “Improving opportunities to access the outdoors for responsible recreation” can be found in English at: http://gov.wales/consultations/environmentandcountryside/improving-oppor... and Welsh at: http://gov.wales/consultations/environmentandcountryside/improving-oppor...

Trails for Wales

Mountain Bikers in Wales
Help improve off-road conditions in Wales and put pressure on England to do the same through CTC's campaign Trails for Wales!
SamJones's picture

Closure threat to essential part of Wales Coast Path

Barmouth Bridge, part of the National Cycle Network, faces closure after 150 years use due to council cuts, potentially forcing cyclists and walkers on an 18 mile detour.
Barmouth Bridge faces closure

According to reports in Wales Online, Gwynedd Council will consult with the public about the closure of Barmouth Bridge, as they are forced to consider cuts to save £9m.

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SamJones's picture

Could Wales lead the way in off-road access?

On Friday 10 July, the Welsh Government launched its consultation 'Improving opportunities to access the outdoors for responsible recreation'.
Mountain biking in Wales

Campaigners, including CTC and a recently formed consortium of representatives from the mountain bike community called the MTB Advocacy Group see this as having great potential for off-road cycling in Wales.

The Welsh Government has ensured the emphasis of the consultation is on "providing easy and affordable access to quality local green space and outdoor recreation activities close to where people live." 

Mark Slater's picture

L'Eroica & CTC Heritage Jersey Rider Package

Don't miss your opportunity to cycle back in time at this year's L'Eroica Britannia in Derbyshire's magnificent peaks with Team CTC. There are 25 places available and each rider will receive a CTC heritage jersey.
L'Eroica Britannia rider places CTC

CTC has a limited number of rider places up for grabs at this years L'Eroica Britannia . We are offering you a chance to ride for the oldest cycling organisation in the UK. 

We are offering members the opportunity to come and explore of some of the most beautiful countryside, cycling through World class heritage sites and areas of outstanding beauty.

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Cherry Allan's picture

Unsurfaced highways shared with motor vehicles

Not all unsurfaced highways are robust enough for use by motor vehicles. Ruts and mud, for example, can make them difficult or impossible for cycling ...
Unsurfaced highway
Headline Messages: 
  • Unsurfaced highways are valuable routes for cycling in the countryside, although their use by recreational motor vehicles and tractors too can compromise enjoyment and make the surface un-rideable.
Key facts: 
  • A byway open to all traffic (BOAT) is open to all classes of traffic including motor vehicles, but is not necessarily maintained to the same standard as an ordinary road. There are some 3,000km of them.
  • An unsurfaced, unclassified road (UUCR) is repairable by the local authority, but access rights may not be clear and subject to dispute. It is ‘unclassified’ because it has not been categorised as an A, B or C road. There are some 9,000km of UUCRs.
  • Traffic Regulation Orders (TROs) can be used to stop motor vehicles using BOATs or UUCRs; if repairs are needed, ‘Section 56’ notices can be served on the highway authority.
CTC View (formal statement of CTC's policy): 
  • CTC accepts that licenced recreational motor vehicles (2 & 4 wheel) have a legal right to use BOATs and UUCRs. 
  • Not all of these highways, however, are robust enough for use by motor vehicles, so they should be managed to avoid stirring up mud and creating ruts.
  • Cyclists and other non-motorised users go to the countryside for quiet recreation. Unmanaged motorised use of unsurfaced highways is incompatible with this, particularly where these vehicles, especially motorcycles, are inadequately silenced. 
  • If, after a reasonable time, voluntary management fails to remedy a damaged highway, or is not implemented, then a Traffic Regulation Order (TRO) should be sought to prevent motorised vehicular use.
  • The police should implement robust policies to discourage illegal use by unlicenced and/or unsilenced vehicles.
  • Use by tractors as part of agricultural or forestry practice can also be extremely damaging, and where this occurs the Highway Authority (HA) and landowner/tenant should agree on measures to allow unimpeded use by cycles.
  • Where, following extensive discussions, an HA fails to maintain a highway that is ‘out of repair’, then, if the route is an important link, consideration should be given to serving the authority with a Highways Act section 561 notice requiring them to repair it suitably.   

What is a Boat? A byway open to all traffic is a highway open to all classes of traffic including motor vehicles. It may not be maintained to the same standard as an ordinary road. 

What is an UUCR? An unsurfaced, unclassified road is repairable by the local authority, but access rights may not be clear and subject to dispute. It is ‘unclassified’ because it has not been categorised as an A, B or C road.

Download full campaigns briefing: 
Publication Date: 
February 2015
Cherry Allan's picture

Towpaths, canals and rivers

Paths alongside canals and rivers can provide attractive and useful motor-traffic free routes for utility and recreational cycling...
Towpath
Headline Messages: 
  • Opening up towpaths and riverside paths for cycling enhance the network of motor traffic-free routes for commuting, recreational and other purposes.
  • Some walkers and other users are concerned about sharing paths with cyclists, but codes of conduct on responsible cycling, together with good design, help promote harmony.
Key facts: 
  • In England and Wales, there is no general statutory right of way over towpaths along navigable rivers or canals, but a number are public bridleways or footpaths, and others have local rights. In Scotland, cyclists have access to rivers, lochs and reservoirs, provided they respect the Outdoor Access Code
  • Cycling is, in any case, largely welcomed alongside the canals and rivers managed by the Canal and River Trust (England and Wales) and by Scottish Canals.
  • 50% of the British population lives within 5 miles of a towpath or river.
  • The Canal and River Trust cares for around 2,000 miles of waterways in England & Wales.
CTC View (formal statement of CTC's policy): 
  • CTC welcomes the decision by the Canal and River Trust to allow considerate cyclists to ride along most of the length of its towpaths. These routes are a valuable motor traffic-free facility both for utility and recreational cycling, and national and local government should view them as an important part of the strategic transport network.
  • Codes of conduct help promote courtesy and understanding between users.
  • There is little evidence to support the view that cycling on towpaths creates excessive hazards to walkers or to cyclists themselves.
  • All towpaths should remain open to cyclists along their entire length, unless there are insuperable safety issues that can only be avoided with restrictions.
  • There should be no need to apply for a permit or be charged for cycling along a towpath. CTC therefore strongly welcomes the Trust’s decision to allow cyclists to use its towpaths without permits.
  • To help facilitate cycling, towpaths and river paths should have good surfacing and drainage.
  • There is little evidence to support the view that cycling is any more damaging to towpaths or river paths than walking.
Download full campaigns briefing: 
Publication Date: 
February 2015
Cherry Allan's picture

Rights of Way Improvement Plans (England & Wales)

By law, local authorities must develop Rights of Way Improvement Plans (RoWIPs). The plans are a good way of improving opportunities for cycling off-road...
RoWIPs
Headline Messages: 
  • Cycle-friendly Rights of Way Improvement Plans (RoWIPs) can help boost the quantity and quality of routes and open spaces available for cycling in the countryside. They can also help promote them to the public so that more people can enjoy the rights of way network by cycle.
Key facts: 
  • RoWIPs were introduced by s60 of the Countryside & Rights of Way Act (England and Wales) (CROW) 2000 as a means of obliging local authorities to plan to improve access to the countryside.
  • Local Access Forums (LAFs), parish councils and others are involved with the development of ROWIPs.
  • Local authorities had to complete their RoWIPs by November 2007. Fewer than 50% of them met this deadline, although by 2009 virtually all had been published.
CTC View (formal statement of CTC's policy): 
  • There is currently a considerable, suppressed demand for traffic-free off-road cycling routes, especially close to where people live. Provision for family cycling is particularly poor. RoWIPs offer opportunities to improve off-road cycling provision. To maximise the benefits of cycling, the delivery of RoWIPs should:
    • Be informed by a survey of the off-road cycling network to identify gaps and implement improvements 
    • Promote, sign and maintain routes for cyclists 
  • As resources are likely to be limited, RoWIPs benefit from the input of volunteers working through the Local Access Forum (LAF) and in conjunction with local authority staff.
Download full campaigns briefing: 
Publication Date: 
February 2015
Cherry Allan's picture

Scotland's Land Reform Act (2003) and Outdoor Access Code

Scotland's Land Reform Act has opened up the countryside for walking and cycling. The rest of the UK should follow its example ...
Scotland
Headline Messages: 
  • The Land Reform Act gives Scotland the most progressive access arrangements in the UK.
  • It, and its clear and consensual approach to improving public access and resolving disputes, is a good model for other parts of the UK to follow.
  • The more opportunity there is for off-road cycling and cycle tourism in the countryside, the more money it can potentially make for national and local economies.  
Key facts: 
  • The public has lawful access to most land and inland water in Scotland, provided they act responsibly and follow the guidance in the Scottish Outdoor Access Code (also for land managers). There are only a limited number of exemptions.
  • The Act does not distinguish between different modes of travel, whether on foot, cycle or horse: people exercising their rights have to decide for themselves whether their activity is responsible in the circumstances.
  • Mountain biking and leisure cycle tourism combined contribute between £236.2m and £358m per year to the Scottish economy, with a cumulative gross value added (GVA) of £129m.
CTC View (formal statement of CTC's policy): 
  • CTC strongly supports this legislation and its outcomes.
  • The new networks of ‘Core Paths’ are important not only for leisure cycling but also for cycle travel for utility purposes. Investment in healthy outdoor activities and in more sustainable ways to make journeys is vital, both locally, and in delivering on national aims for a healthier and more sustainable society. 
  • If monitoring shows that local authorities are not implementing their Core Path Plans voluntarily, the Scottish Government should consider revising the law to make it a legal duty.
  • There should be better integration of cycle routes created under the legal framework for access and those created under roads legislation. 
  • Increased recreational cycling and its promotion through off-road access, plus the provision of Core and Longer Distance Paths, is potentially highly beneficial for the economy.
  • Measures should be taken to remove locked gates and other barriers that are still preventing access for cycling through some landownerships. 
  • Problems that arise from sharing paths should be resolved by Local Access Officers and Local Access Forums, many of which have CTC members on them.
  • Similar legislation should be adopted in the rest of the UK.
Download full campaigns briefing: 
Publication Date: 
February 2015
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