Mountain Biking

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Bridleways, byways and cycle tracks (England & Wales)

Closing the gaps for cycling in public rights of way and improving maintenance and signing, would encourage more people to cycle off-road...
Cyclist riding off-road
Headline Messages: 
  • The right to cycle on some public rights of way (RoW) but not others does not necessarily relate to their suitability. While cyclists have the right to (bi)cycle on bridleways and byways, many of them are unsuitable; on the other hand, cyclists are not automatically allowed to ride along footpaths, many of which are perfectly fine for cycling.
  • The suppressed demand for good traffic-free cycling routes for both recreational and utility use is considerable, but much of the RoW network is best suited to mountainbiking. More people could enjoy off-road cycling if the network were expanded, more coherent, and better maintained and signed. This needs concerted action from local and national government, plus reform to RoW law.
Key facts: 
  • Cyclists have a right to ride on bridleways, byways and restricted byways, which make up around 22% of the Rights of Way (RoW) network in England and Wales.
  • The rest consists of footpaths, where cyclists have no right to ride. 
CTC View (formal statement of CTC's policy): 
  • Improvements and additions to the bridleways and byways network would enhance the opportunities for motor traffic-free cycling, particularly for families and casual cyclists.
  • National government should review RoW law to enhance cycling opportunities by, for example:
  • following the lead of Scotland’s Land Reform Act 2003, which gave cyclists lawful access to most countryside in Scotland;
  • simplifying the legal process for converting footpaths to cycle tracks.
  • Highway authorities should fulfil their duties under existing legislation to make sure that the potential of the RoW network is fully realised for both recreational and utility cyclists.
  • Cycle racing on bridleways should be permitted by law, subject to appropriate consultation and regulation.
  • While signing from roads onto the RoW network is now reasonably acceptable, waymarking of the network itself needs improving.
  • Highway authorities should not only fulfil their legal duties to maintain byways and bridleways, but should also carry out maintenance programmes to ensure that they are rideable.
Download full campaigns briefing: 
Publication Date: 
November 2014
Cherry Allan's picture

Respond to the Government's consultation English rights-of-way legislation

The Department for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs' consultation on the processes for recording, diverting and extinguishing public rights of way (England) is a chance to suggest ways to make it easier for cyclists to engage with the system and help open more of the countryside for cycling.
This footpath is a metalled road, but the bridleway is a muddy trail!

Why do cyclists need to respond to this consultation?

At the moment, the system for recording, diverting and extinguishing public rights of way in England is extremely bureaucratic, but the Department for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs' (Defra) consultation on the processes involved is a good opportunity to press for the changes that will help enhance the experience of cycling in the countryside.

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4-wheel downhill off-roading

Four wheeled downhill gravity biking is taking the UK by storm, and Bev Rimmer from the group Rough Riderz tells CTC all about this new hi-octane sport.
Dave Bower at Fort William

It's fast, it's furious and completely exhilarating. It's the adrenaline addict's perfect day out. Get strapped in and hold on tight as you hurtle round the corners and down the slopes of some of the UK's finest woodland trails.

Welcome to Rough Riderz, and the crazy world of four wheeled, downhill gravity bikes. These bikes have a custom-built frame, adjustable seat and footplate, off-road tyres, hydraulic brake system, and a safety harness system built into the seat and footplate.

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'Hit the Hills' - fully-catered weekends for mountain bikers

Bored of staying in stale bunkhouses, run down hotels or chintzy B&Bs? Fed up of eating basic food made without any pride? Struggling to come up with new destinations to go riding? Want to have a great weekend and meet new people? Christian Newsome may have the solution.
Hit the Hills for a great mountain biking weekend

We talk to Christian Newsome, the founder of Hit the Hills.
 
What is Hit the Hills?
Hit the Hills offers catered weekends in the best mountain biking locations in the UK.
 
How do you do that?

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