/ Finally some good news for access in wales!

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The Potato - on 05 Apr 2019

Proposals had been made a few years ago but all went quiet now it seems that its likely to happen after all.

https://www.britishcycling.org.uk/mtb/article/20190405-Welsh-Government-commits-to-MTB-access-0

Once its all been agreed and passed Ill probably make some business card type templates users can print off to hand out to any uninformed persons we may meet out on the paths/trails. I know itll probably be a little while off yet, but I cant help but be a little excited.

So long as we all play nicely together there wont be any issues......

Post edited at 17:41
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balmybaldwin - on 05 Apr 2019
In reply to The Potato:

Presumably voluntary restrictions like the one on Snowdon will remain in place?

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The Potato - on 05 Apr 2019
In reply to balmybaldwin:

I would hope so, there will probably be a few other minor restrictions in high use areas or in urban areas perhaps. We shall see what comes of it.

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baron - on 05 Apr 2019
In reply to The Potato:

I have been a cyclist, mostly mtb, for 30 years.

I do not greet this news with any deep joy.

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Monk - on 05 Apr 2019
In reply to baron:

Why's that? 

I'm wary as the wording doesn't explicitly say we'll be able to ride footpaths, but it does sound interesting. 

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baron - on 05 Apr 2019
In reply to Monk:

The article would seem to indicate a push for cycling on footpaths. (Is that a pun?).

Something which, as a walker, I am against.

I have similar concerns about organised races on bridleways.

While there are undoubtedly some areas which would benefit from increased cycle access, Wales has enough areas where it is possible to cycle to your hearts content without an increased chance of conflict with other land users.

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pasbury on 05 Apr 2019
In reply to baron:

I agree, I’m not a knee jerk anti mtb-er but it’s not appropriate to open all public footpaths to cycles.

Here we go, re-categorise rights of way, bridleways available to bikes as they are already, BOATS ban vehicular access. Restricted byways, revert to bridleway. Extend the bridleway system where appropriate to allow human powered vehicles.

Post edited at 20:09
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blackmountainbiker - on 06 Apr 2019
In reply to baron:

I couldn't disagree more. There is a real shortage of good bridle ways in the Brecon Beacons and Black Mountains and I, as someone who lives and rides there, welcome this and cannot see it being a big problem. The national park has a few honey pot areas which are rammed with visitors but the majority of the park is very sparsely visited. For me, just being able to link sections which I currently can't is the attraction.

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baron - on 06 Apr 2019
In reply to blackmountainbiker:

Areas such as those that you describe probably won’t be the source of any major problems as it’s the conflict between walkers, cyclists and horse riders which causes many issues.

If, as you describe, there’s hardly anyone about, then the potential for conflict is obviously greatly reduced.

Some would say that the mere presence of a bike in a mountain environment is to be avoided although I’ve never subscribed to the idea that walkers should throw stones at MTBers as was suggested by an outdoor magazine editor many years ago.

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blackmountainbiker - on 06 Apr 2019
In reply to baron: I had an argument with a walker in the lakes a few years back who yelled at me that mechanisation had no place in the mountains but he refused to say how he had got to the start of his walk. I don't think it was on horseback.

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baron - on 06 Apr 2019
In reply to blackmountainbiker:

Unless he was a local it’s probably true that he didn’t walk there either.

Everyones got their own idea of what is fair and reasonable use of the land.

I’d have all roads into areas like the Lakes blocked off to motorists which would suit me but I can’t see the locals going for it!  

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Monk - on 06 Apr 2019
In reply to baron:

 Fair enough, I guess, although I disagree that there are plenty of routes for bikes. With access comes responsibility - just because we can ride somewhere doesn't mean we can treat it like a trail centre. "Be nice, say hi" is a very effective campaign around where I live. To be honest, I avoid busy paths as popular times because and I know lots of others do too, so in many ways potential conflict can be self-limiting.

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Moley on 06 Apr 2019
In reply to The Potato:

If they do legalise riding on footpaths, have they considered the practical implications?

All our councils rights of way departments are strapped for cash and severely understaffed, so who is going to fund and staff the removal of all those stiles and kissing gates and replace them with cycle accessible alternatives?

As a walker/runner and sometime cyclist (off road) i hope they don't include footpaths at any time.

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thepodge on 06 Apr 2019
In reply to Moley:

No one is going to remove them, read the information before finding fault.

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keith-ratcliffe on 06 Apr 2019
In reply to The Potato:

I would urge caution in this matter and I support my view with two recent incidents that I have experienced.
Both were on paths that were formally marked as shared cycle & pedestrian access. In one I was approached by a family on bicycles who stopped and pulled over whilst I passed them - sharing friendly greetings on the way. The second I was suddenly aware of a presence behind me that was accompanied by a shout of 'Way!' and a group of three bikers passed me very closely at speed causing me to stop and step off the narrow track. It was not pleasant.
Both these groups were cyclists but my question is how do we provide facilities that suit both these users.
I would suggest that we need to segregate those enthusiasts who seek more challenging experiences by providing more routes dedicated for their sport and indicate that those routes are not shared with walkers. At the same time there should be clear indication on shared walker/cyclist trails that the etiquette is in favour of walkers.
 

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Moley on 06 Apr 2019
In reply to thepodge:

> No one is going to remove them, read the information before finding fault.

"Begin the process of reviewing and potentially implementing access to footpaths by mountain bikers, cyclists and horse riders"

I just took it that the above would be difficult for mountain bikers if they left all the stiles in place. I've obviously missed something.

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Howard J - on 07 Apr 2019
In reply to The Potato:

> So long as we all play nicely together there wont be any issues......

This is where the difficulties arise.  Experience shows that walkers, bikers and horseriders all too often can't or won't play nicely.   If they all have equal rights to be be on the PRoW that is only likely to make it worse.

The idea of bridleways being used for cycle racing fills me with horror, frankly.  Presumably the path would have to be closed to other users, which is a much greater inconvenience than closing a public road as there are then usually plenty of alternatives.

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DaveHK - on 07 Apr 2019
In reply to The Potato:

To those who are against this for whatever reason I say this: it works fine in Scotland.

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DaveHK - on 07 Apr 2019
In reply to Howard J:

> The idea of bridleways being used for cycle racing fills me with horror, frankly.  Presumably the path would have to be closed to other users, 

​​​​​​Doesn't seem to bother folk much at the annual 3 Peaks CX race. No closure necessary and I've never had anything but smiles and cheers from walkers at that.

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Mike Peacock on 07 Apr 2019
In reply to DaveHK:

> To those who are against this for whatever reason I say this: it works fine in Scotland.


Yeah, it works fine here in Sweden too. No issues. People cycle, walk, and horse ride wherever they want.

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baron - on 07 Apr 2019
In reply to DaveHK:

> To those who are against this for whatever reason I say this: it works fine in Scotland.

That’s because almost nobody lives there.

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DaveHK - on 07 Apr 2019
In reply to baron:

> That’s because almost nobody lives there.

Roughly 3.5 million people in the central belt and shared use paths work fine there so that argument holds no water.

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baron - on 07 Apr 2019
In reply to DaveHK:

Then you’ll have to share the secret of how it works in Scotland when there’s plenty of conflict elsewhere.

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DaveHK - on 07 Apr 2019
In reply to baron:

We're obviously just better people.

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DaveHK - on 07 Apr 2019
In reply to baron:

> Then you’ll have to share the secret of how it works in Scotland when there’s plenty of conflict elsewhere.

Wait, you're saying there's lots of conflict in the places WITH the segregated paths? That's not a great advert for it is it?

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baron - on 07 Apr 2019
In reply to DaveHK:

> We're obviously just better people.

Indeed.

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baron - on 07 Apr 2019
In reply to DaveHK:

> Wait, you're saying there's lots of conflict in the places WITH the segregated paths? That's not a great advert for it is it?

There’s conflict when people want to use the same space for different activities.

The larger the space and the fewer the people then the chance of conflict reduces.

Small spaces, many people and often aggressive attitudes leads to increased conflict.

Having segregated paths helps reduce conflict but doesn’t eliminate it.

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DaveHK - on 07 Apr 2019
In reply to baron:

> Having segregated paths helps reduce conflict but doesn’t eliminate it.

I disagree. I think segregated paths increase conflict and my experience in England and Wales confirms this.

It creates a them and us attitude and means that because walkers have a space in which they don't encounter other users they react negatively when they encounter those users elsewhere.

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Monk - on 07 Apr 2019
In reply to baron:

>... often aggressive attitudes leads to increased conflict.

 That's the problem in a nutshell. Be nice,  say hi. If everyone is relaxed and considerate, there's very little room for conflict. That's how it can work. 

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Toccata on 08 Apr 2019
In reply to baron:

There's a fair amount of walker-rider conflict in the honey pot areas of the Peak District and perhaps spreading the load might help. However I rather worry that the ignorant and/or abnoxious few would spoil such a move to improve access. Let's face it - England's not a terribly tolerant nation when it comes to appreciating the outdoors in the 'correct' way.

As a MTBer I've been admonished by walkers who don't think bikes should be allowed on bridleways and I've been scolded by horse riders because 'cyclists should only approach horses on roads not tracks'.

As a horse rider I've been told that I should keep the horse off bridleways while people are MTBing and had a bollocking from a walker because they were scared of horses and I should stay off the paths.

As a walker I've had to grab my young children from the path of out of control MTBers and even been told I should not wear bright clothing (rucsac actually) as it can scare the horse.

And, let's face it, we all dislike off-roaders.

And sometimes we bolt, sometimes we peg and sometimes we don't.

It works in Scotland because there really is a lot more space. The people are all crammed into the central belt but they can all disperse at the weekend. In England the people are crammed into rings around the NPs to which the all congregate at the weekend. 

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baron - on 08 Apr 2019
In reply to Toccata:

Exactly.

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Monk - on 08 Apr 2019
In reply to Toccata:

See, right there is the reason nothing changes. You've been defeated before you start by assuming it can't be done. It's why people won't get out of their cars and onto bikes in the city. Make a start and solve the problems. Manchester is doing a great job,  and this Welsh access does the same in the countryside. We should not use bad behaviour for an excuse not to change. We should change and address bad behaviour, whether that is inconsiderate bikers or grouchy walkers. 

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DaveHK - on 08 Apr 2019
In reply to Monk:

Spot on.

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pasbury on 09 Apr 2019
In reply to DaveHK:

> To those who are against this for whatever reason I say this: it works fine in Scotland.

Less ppmf (people per mile of footpath). Same for Sweden.

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DaveHK - on 09 Apr 2019
In reply to pasbury:

> Less ppmf (people per mile of footpath). Same for Sweden.

Whilst that might be true for the country as a whole I don't think it's a good argument for maintaining the status quo in England and Wales. And I also don't think it's the reason shared use paths (largely) work in Scotland.There are places in Scotland where the density of use approaches that of parts of E&W and whilst conflicts do occur there seem to be surprisingly few major issues.

To use your terminology allowing cyclists access to footpaths would reduce the bpmb (bikers per mile of bridleway) which would reduce the pressure on them.

​​​​​​The designations are antiquated and don't reflect the nature of modern usage or the state of the individual trails. I've seen a tarmac road that was classified as footpath and next to it a bridleway that was completely unrideable by bike or horse and got a bollocking from the farmer for riding the road. I've also seen a track which alternated between footpath and bridleway. All of that is a recipe for conflict.

​​​​​​Finally, as I said previously segregated paths create a conflict oriented mindset. In Scotland, we are all simply path users. It's taken a while but most people here seem understand that everyone has an equal right to be there. Segregated trails create a them and us attitude which breeds conflict.

​​​​​​The whole thing is deeply unhealthy. This Welsh news is encouraging but I don't expect to see change in England in the near future.

Post edited at 07:47
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Toccata on 09 Apr 2019
In reply to Monk:

I didn't say it wouldn't work I just remain cynical that the minority of abusers would change their ways. Walkers can be very defensive of their domain. Equivalent might be to consider opening the Coed Y Brenin MTB trails to walkers and horses or the Newmarket gallops to walkers. Would you ride differently? Or go elsewhere?  

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DaveHK - on 09 Apr 2019
In reply to Toccata:

> Equivalent might be to consider opening the Coed Y Brenin MTB trails to walkers and horses or the Newmarket gallops to walkers. Would you ride differently? Or go elsewhere?  

In Scotland walkers are free to walk on MTB trails if they wish. They don't tend to for a variety of reasons. It self polices.

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Mike Peacock on 09 Apr 2019
In reply to pasbury:

> Less ppmf (people per mile of footpath). Same for Sweden.


True over the entirety of Sweden. But I live in a city with a population of 170,000. Within about 2 miles of the city centre we have nature reserves (in fact, we even have one within the city itself). Loads of people cycle, walk and ride through these, and there's no conflict. It just comes down to being considerate. I'm in complete agreement with what Monk said: "We should change and address bad behaviour, whether that is inconsiderate bikers or grouchy walkers."

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pasbury on 09 Apr 2019
In reply to DaveHK:

I agree that there should be a rationalisation of types of right of way. Rupps and restricted byways seem to be an anachronism and encouragement for our off road and trial bike friends to trash them.

To my mind a bridleway is something suitable for a horse or bike to use and a footpath may not be due to narrowness, multiplicity of stiles, terrain or incline. Though this is not what they look like on the ground. I won't call it conflict but there would be inconvenience and lack of fun if horses and bikes were to use parts of the Pembroke coast path, the average rural path through fields or the Zig Zags on the pyg track.

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ChrisJD on 09 Apr 2019
In reply to pasbury:

> footpath may not be due to narrowness, terrain or incline.

Lol, these are all the good things we look for on a bike

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Monk - on 09 Apr 2019
In reply to pasbury:

I don't think reclassification should mean that stiles should be removed, just that bikers can choose to go that way and lift over stiles if they wish. In reality there are loads of footpaths that bikers and horse riders wouldn't want to go down, but some that are already better than many bridleways. This sort of thing will just naturally find an equilibrium. 

As to someone's point about allowing walkers at trail centres... in most forestry commission sites you already mix walking and biking paths, but the surface and terrain tends to lead to a happy natural separation. Having said that, on bike only trails near me you often meet walkers, runners and even the occasional  deer. It's just one of those things. 

As for the population density arguments, can we remember we are talking about Wales - most of it away from the north and south coasts is virtually empty! 

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pasbury on 09 Apr 2019
In reply to Monk:

Thinking about this a bit more, shared use is the ideal. But we have to be realistic about the kind of paths/trails/routes that make sharing easy and those that don’t. I don’t want any improvements in the ‘infrastructure’, just an appreciation of what kind of trail is likely to be shared and what isn’t. There is plenty of single track in my area (Forest of Dean) which I wouldn’t want to go walking on, it’s for bikes. But there’s also loads of forest trail which i’d go on on my bike or in my walking shoes. There are also many paths where I’d think it inconsiderate to ride on my bike, I’d feel embarrassed every time I passed walkers out for a stroll.

so shared use is making the best use of the right of way network we have, sharing some of it and, by consensus, leaving other parts to one set of users or another. On balance the bikers should get a bit more of the network and the walkers could be a bit more forgiving.

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