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Mountain bikes on public footpaths

From Jon B

Saturday, 22 February 2014

I know this has probably been brought up before but can I appeal to the local mountain bike crew (if you are indeed local) who are insisting on churning up our public footpaths and essentially claiming them as their own?

I appreciate, in the eyes of the law, that there is not much against your actions (see link)

However, I do wish that some application of respect and basic commone sense would prevail when selecting your routes. I have no issue with your hobby - we all need to get out more for some fresh air, exercise and some adrenaline. But have a look at the path, and think, "who else will be using this?" and perhaps go and have a look afterwards at the damage your wheels have made, and maybe consider refraining for a week from that path, and give it chance to recover.

I am namely speaking of the network of pathways behind the Fox and Goose, through to Church Lane, which seem to be regularly visited (especially at night time) by a group of mountain bikers. I would like to be able to use that path too, to exercise myself and my dog, but recently I just haven't been able to get through, as the path has been destroyed by their activities. I'm not one to spoil anyone's fun, just hoping we can come to a way of us all being able to use the paths? Am I being unreasonable?

From John Rhodes

Sunday, 23 February 2014

I think the post from Jon may have been unintentionally misleading. Bikes are not permitted on footpaths. The CTC web-site (Cyclists Touring Club and a venerable bikers lobby) states on it's web-site, "There is no right to cycle on footpaths...". The clue is in the name.

From Jon B

Sunday, 23 February 2014

Thanks John, I think the link is a little misleading, and on further reading, it does state no bikes on footpaths, but bridleways permitted. So I'm right in thinking that this group of cyclists shouldn't be using this path in particular?

From Andy M

Sunday, 23 February 2014

Hi Jon - As John says there is no 'right' for bicycles to use public footpaths. A cyclist who rides on a footpath (NB not pavements/footways where it is an offence) may be committing trespass against the landowner but it is not a prosecutable offence - unless there is a byelaw in place that makes it so.

From Drew Marsh

Sunday, 23 February 2014

Even if there is a byelaw in place it is almost impossible to bring about a prosecution as there is no way to identify these people.

Whenever I have tried to engage with them, which I do as a representative of the National Trust at Hardcastle Crags, I am met with abuse and threats. Calling the Police is no help as by the time they arrive the culprits have long disappeared.

They are often in large groups, use the excuse that there are no signs, or if there are, that they didn't see them.

From Felicia J

Sunday, 23 February 2014

There has been a proliferation of bikers on the local footpaths here too near Mytholmroyd. They come flying past, heaven help you if you are on the path and its narrow. The paths are becoming churned up and V shaped, too slippy to walk easily especially in our local woods.

When we have met any bikers and tried to say that they are footpaths, like Drew we have met with abuse, agression or just being ignored. Our local area is being hammered by the wheels of these bikes, the owners of which don't seem to want to stick to the cycle routes but just branch out wherever they want.

A lot are now riding over the tops from Hebden to Mytholmroyd and /or on towards Cragg Vale, an area which is purely footpath.

Night riding too in lonely areas, is that a good thing? It scares the wildlife and spoils the once peaceful quiet places even when it's dark. Is there nowhere left that will be off limits?

The tour de France affect is not all positive.

From Paul Rigg

Monday, 24 February 2014

I regularly use the path between Heptonstall and New Bridge at Hardcastle Crags and it is regularly insfested with large groups of these cyclists. The surface is covered in mud making it extremely slippery.

In fact it is known as the "blue pig descent" and there are websites giving details of record times riding down it, the current record is 2 minutes and 7 seconds.

I would not like to be walking down when someone was trying to beat that.

To stop it, I would suggest the sort of stiles that exist on the canal bank between Todmorden and Shade. You can zig zag round them but you can't ride a bike.

From Andy M

Monday, 24 February 2014

Whilst illicit riding certainly occurs, as do incidences of anti-social behaviour, in my experience the majority of MTB riders I meet (and I am one as well as a walker) seem perfectly reasonable and stick to the very extensive network of local bridleways. The valley is a major centre for biking, which brings in welcome tourist revenue, but admittedly it can be difficult to engage with those whose behaviour is unreasonable.

Perhaps a 'good behaviours' code of some sort could be promoted through the local MTB shops?

From Richard Peters

Monday, 24 February 2014

I am contributing in a personal capacity, but I am part of the CROWS team who repair paths and bridleways in the area.

There are some idiot walkers, bikers, runners etc that don't care a fink about what damage they cause.

However, there are loads of bikers who are unaware of where they are allowed to go, or even if they do, there are no way-marks nor an easy map to follow. We are working on a funding proposal that will provide bikers with a map (with a good practice guide) of all the bridleways in the area, but also some clear way-marking. We hope/expect this will be a joint bid between bikers, walkers and horse riders etc.

It is true that bike tyres cause a particular type of erosion problem on certain kinds of paths, but you have to put this in the context that the maintenance of rights of way in this area has been appalling over the last years - that is why we had to set ourselves up.

I am a walker, but I want to have a dialogue with bikers to see how we can coexist and perhaps marginalise the masters of the universe biking tendency. Happy to be contacted through the CROWS website

From Julie C

Tuesday, 25 February 2014

Big thank you to CROWS for all the work so far. Glad Richard mentioned runners. It is also the large groups of runners who cause destruction. There have been recent huge groups of runners through parts of the valley leaving disaster behind. One such spot is below Raw Lane, between there and Mytholmroyd - a recently restored path and little footbridge over a bog was wrecked - not suprisingly after 400 folk ran over it.

I think that big groups should put down a bond of some sort so there was money to support repair, I think that would make them take more care.

From Peter P

Thursday, 27 February 2014

I cant help but agree with the above. Many a time I have been walking my dog on well used paths and bridleways and these so called 'bikers' have literally ridden past me dinging their bells and sent my poor dog mad. One time my dog was mid 'business' on the footpath and the 'biker' distressed him so much he was still shaking when I got home.

I've even had 'bikers' telling my to pick up my dogs poo, but what business is it of theirs? They say it sticks to their wheels and flys up in their faces, but they should look where their going. I can leave my poo out in the country if I want.

I'm looking into joining a group called the Council of Countryside Knowledge. My friend told me about them. They take a stiff stance on such matters. I also agree that the 'Tour de France' isnt such a good thing. So called 'road bikers' make driving along narrow roads very difficult and I can't believe how many times I've come across two a breast. Coming across three a breast is even more of a shock.

From Graham Barker

Thursday, 27 February 2014

I'm amazed Peter met bikers ringing bells. In my experience a bell is a piece of essential safety equipment mostly absent from expensive bikes and lavishly (if often ludicrously) attired riders.

There is such a discrepancy between the green credentials of cycling and the aggressive pack behaviour of many mountain bikers that this thought has crossed my mind: do some people take up mountain biking simply because it makes them look hard? Do they share a mentality with thugs who swagger around with pit bulls and rotweilers? I never get the impression that these riders are out to enjoy the countryside, and you rarely see one who looks over forty.

From Andy M

Thursday, 27 February 2014

As a fellow dog owner I trust Peter, that you aren't leaving dog mess on rights of way? I'm sure you're not but even if there isn't a dog control order in place doing so it is a potential public nuisance and possibly contravenes Section 87 of the Environmental Protection Act 1990 - (defacement of a public open space by littering) - as well as being anti-social.

The Tour's going to be great - enjoy - and even if you don't it won't last for ever!

PS: I'm intrigued - I've never heard of the Council for Countryside Knowledge - (no web presence either) - who are they? Sound a bit sinister to me!

From Jon B

Thursday, 27 February 2014

I'm glad I'm not alone in this, it seems many other people have had similar experiences. Due to the lack of response from any actual MTB riders, it would seem that a lot of these hobbyists are coming from other areas - which would explain the ignorance in their actions. I will challenge the next I see them. Threats and abuse don't bother me, I can take it. Whether they can is another matter! But seriously it's obvious that something needs to be done - as firstly they shouldn't in theory be on these paths, and secondly, even if they were allowed on, they need to regulate their frequency, or there will be no paths left for anyone when they've disintegrated.

From Andy M

Thursday, 27 February 2014

I'd question just how serious a problem this is. On certain paths yes - I agree its an issue, but I walk and mountain-bike all round HB and it doesn't look to be a widespread problem - and believe me I have a professional interest in this sort of thing!

There are a lot of bikers around here, both indigenous and err foreign, and, as I stated previously, I think the majority ride perfectly reasonably.

From John Smithson

Thursday, 27 February 2014

Peter P, if I come across you with your dog pooing on public footpaths, I too would remonstrate with you to clear up the mess. Such anti social behavior is unacceptable. Please consider other users of the footpath. We don't want to be covered in your dog's mess. Stop being so selfish. The countryside does not absolve dog owners from clearing up dog mess from footpaths and bridleways.

I suspect Peter P also needs to familiarize himself with the Highway Code. Cycling two abreast is perfectly legal. Rule 66 states you should never cycle more than two abreast, and ride in single file on narrow or busy roads. This means it is perfectly legal for cyclists to cycle side by side on most roads in the UK.

As for overtaking cyclists, the Highway code states "give motorcyclists, cyclists and horse riders at least as much room as you would when overtaking a car (see Rules 211-215) Cars overtaking cyclists should be on the other side of the road, just as if they were overtaking a car. It's simple really but it seems that some motorists don't know or understand this rule, if they did, there would be far less cars passing extremely close to cyclists and less road rage between the two groups.

Finally, Peter P and Felicia J, mountain bikers and road cyclists are very different. They ride different types of bike, have distinctive cultures, and in my experience rarely practice each other's disciplines. The Grand Depart (the precursor to the Tour de France), taking place in Yorkshire in July this year has nothing at all to do with mountain biking; it's a road event.

Getting back to the subject of this thread, damage to footpaths and bridleways, I concur with Richard Peters that such damage is caused by inconsiderate walkers, runners and mountain bikers. I'd also add inconsiderate landowners to this list. Far too many landowners are neglecting their responsibility to maintain drainage arrangements on land they own.

From Paul D

Friday, 28 February 2014

On Peter's point on mountain bikes on narrow country lanes, I find they tend to either slow down, pull in, or bounce off a landrover - day or night.

On footpaths it's clear that the majority of cyclists are polite, considerate and well mannered. I agree on this night riding lark. Annoying on foot, but with a lamp and shotgun the loss of night vision and fear on contact can at least be reciprocated.

I'm sure the solution to this footpath degradation is to be found within the wider mountain bike fraternity. But - have you seen all the cars discorging the very cyclists doing this at church lane and Brown's layby every weekend? I'm wondering if this really is a local problem at all?

From Graham Wynne

Friday, 28 February 2014

There are dozens of paths round here that are a boggy mess where you'll never see a mountain biker.

Also there's a lot of well-used paths round here where there's technically no right of way for walkers either.

And as for the person claiming it's ok to let your dog foul up the countryside but not to ride a bike.

Mountain bikers are people just like anyone else - some are inconsiderate, some aren't. Making sweeping generalisations based on some hefty confirmation bias isn't really helpful to anyone. Most people are happy to share the paths and I've never had a problem on foot or on two wheels.

From Graham Barker

Friday, 28 February 2014

Yes there are inconsiderate mountain bikers, walkers, runners. Someone standing still doing absolutely nothing can be inconsiderate. The difference is that an inconsiderate mountain biker is potentially very dangerous to other people. Obviously it's wrong to tar them all with the same brush, but until the MTB fraternity gets its house in better order, tarred they will be.

From my own experience, one simple improvement would make a huge difference: all bikers sharing space with walkers and pedestrians should USE A BELL. Why don't they? What's the problem with giving some warning of their approach? It should also be mandatory to SLOW DOWN or even DISMOUNT when passing close to people, especially where there are children and dogs. My apologies for the capitals, but they seem necessary when so many mountain bikers clearly need a serious wake-up call.

From Felicia J

Friday, 28 February 2014

Well John (Smithson) I guess you have all the points covered in your post but still I reiterate that ,whatever the kind of bike the "TDF" riders use, the event itself is being used to promote cycling generally. The route has drawn attention to our area, and where we live we have seen a very noticable increase in bike riding of all kinds both on and (more noticeably )off road leading to extensive local footpath damage.

From Graham Wynne

Saturday, 1 March 2014

Graham B, I've occasionally been moaned at for not having a bell - I've also been moaned at for using a bell.

Personally I prefer to just ask people if I can get past. Seems friendlier than dinging a bell at someone. Lots of people (especially runners) have headphones in and can't hear you anyway.

I totally agree about slowing right down when there's people around by the way. I do think some people underestimate how good the brakes are on a modern mountain bike though - you can generally slow down or stop very quickly if needed.

I'd be interested to know if there are any cases of people being hit by someone on a bike - I imagine it's extremely rare if so. Obviously bikers shouldn't be scaring people anyway.

Felicia J - so there are numerous paths round here that are heavily eroded and boggy solely from walkers/runners, but that's fine. It's only the damage caused by mountain bikes that's a problem?

And re the Tour de France and cycling generally - it brings significant amounts of money into the local economy and helps people get fitter which reduces the burden on the NHS.

How about a bit of live and let live?

From Felicia J

Sunday, 2 March 2014

Graham W, looking at my posts I don't think I said that the footpaths were eroded by walkers and runners, but I do say you can definitely see the damage done to them by the deep grooves worn in the paths by mountain bikes. They create channels for the water to run off even faster causing more erosion.

I would say some wear and tear on footpaths is to be expected when people walk on them especially in winter, but you can't say mechanical damage caused by bikes is as harmless - especially as the bikes just should not be there in the first place.

I'm all for people being made fitter by biking -"save the NHS" - but not by their riding in the "wrong" place.

Your meaning of live and let live in this case is to imply people can't object to bike riding on footpaths because of some general benefits that could be achieved by the same riding on the roads. Can I ride a mountain bike through your garden if it makes me fit ?

From John Rhodes

Sunday, 2 March 2014

I'm all for live and let live but how about a bit of abiding by the rules. Mountain bikers are not allowed on footpaths . . . it's the law; neither are horses. The big difference is that horse riders stick to the rules while many mountain bikers do not. I guess that's partly because it's difficult to get a horse over a stile but mainly because horse riders are local and know the local bridleways. Mountain bikers in many cases neither know nor care.

So, until mountain bikers successfully campaign for a change in the law, which would necessitate a proper debate about safety, environmental damage, etc. please stick to the rules.

From Graham Wynne

Sunday, 2 March 2014

The only person that really has any right to complain about mountain bikes on footpaths is the landowner. It's really nothing to do with anyone else. Also, many of the packhorse type trails round here clearly should be classified as bridleways.

Have any of you ever visited Scotland? You are free to ride bikes wherever you like as long as you do so in a reaponsible manner. And it works just fine.

There are also numerous studies showing that bikes don't cause more erosion than walkers - they cause different types of erosion on different types of surface. I avoid boggy/soft paths because I don't want to cause damage and it's not much fun anyway.

I wonder why there isn't a similar outcry about the numerous examples of (sometimes heavily eroded/boggy) paths there are round here that don't appear on a map as a right of way, and are used only by walkers/runners? They have no 'right' to be there either do they?

What all this boils down to is walkers saying 'my chosen activity is fine and without consequence, it's what other people do that's a problem'.

I'm quite happy to admit that some mountain bikers need to be more considerate, but the kind of sweeping generalisations being made here aren't going to encourage that.

Felicia J - ok so the riding could just be done on the road? Well couldn't walking just be done on the road too? I notice you ignored the bit about how much money mountain biking brings in to the local area.

From Andy M

Sunday, 2 March 2014

'Paul D: I find they tend to either slow down, pull in, or bounce off a landrover - day or night.'....'but with a lamp and shotgun the loss of night vision and fear on contact can at least be reciprocated.'

Just what are you trying to say?

This thread also appears to be turning into an anti-'off-comers' rant.

And PS: It is not illegal to ride on a bridleway at night

From Felicia J

Sunday, 2 March 2014

There are so many issues being raised here I feel pedantic commenting on each one in a post but here goes.

Anyone who posts on here could be a landowner but is it a requirement to be so, walkers are affected too?

It's debatable how much economic benefit is brought by the m.b. riders as they seem to drive here, drop in, zoom round and drive out.

Perhaps they have a coffee and sandwich?Set that against the nuisance for the landowners and potential cost of time and labour repairing the damage caused, not to mention walkers slipping and sliding on exposed tree roots and diving out of the way.

BTW someone was injured by a mountain biker who ran into a walker on Spencer Lane a few years ago. It ended up in court as the injury was quite serious.

From Colin C

Sunday, 2 March 2014

Interesting debate and it's nice to see Hebden's famous tolerant, friendly vibe in such good health.

Some mountain bikers are ignorant, some walkers are too. Some Mountain bikers are lovely, some walkers are too.

Mountain bikers shouldn't be on footpaths but have absolutely every right to be on bridleways, day or night, and the maintenance of that bridleway is the landowners responsibility. That's not to say that they have a right to ride dangerously around others, they haven't.

Some bridleways now look like footpaths because they haven't been looked after, and indeed some footpaths look like bridleways (largely due to landowners wanting to keep horses off them when the definitive maps were made in the mists of time). So if you're ranting about who should be where, you probably should look at a map first.

Isn't the answer to this whole debate just about us all being more tolerant of other users of the countryside, accepting their rights and getting along?

From Andy M

Sunday, 2 March 2014

It's debatable how much economic benefit is brought by the m.b. riders as they seem to drive here, drop in, zoom round and drive out
Perhaps they have a coffee and sandwich?Set that against the nuisance for the landowners and potential cost of time and labour repairing the damage caused,

At an informed guess Felicia - but backed-up by national stats for recreational contributions to local economies rather than supposition- I'd say that its quite the opposite. There is very little 'nuisance ' done to landowners, some erosion control expense but much,much more in local spend and, perhaps more significantly, money saved in the national health benefits of an active population.

From Pedro de Wit

Monday, 3 March 2014

I am a mountain biker and walker and agree that mountain bikers should be considerate and slow down/ring a bell or whatever is necessary to avoid collisions with walkers. This is general courtesy and applies to riding on any type of road/path. Same can be said to walkers and car drivers when it comes to being courteous to cyclists.

Cycling should be promoted as much as we can because it is a healthy activity that gets people outdoors and out of their cars. In this country, however, car drivers think that they own the road and walkers think they own the country side.

Lots of contributors to this discussion make out that mountain bikers or bikers in general are thugs and a great nuisance. Nothing can be further from the truth. Cyclists are often the victim of inconsiderate behavior of other road users. There is plenty of space for all of us if we all show a bit of consideration.

From Mo Norwood

Monday, 3 March 2014

I'd just like to say a big thank you to 99.9% of the bike riders and 99.9% of the walkers who are kind and considerate to horses and riders on bridleways and more especially on roads. I'm a horse rider/ walker/ cyclist and really feel that there is space for all of us in the countryside if we unite to use it wisely. Please give horses a wide berth as you pass and do it quietly and slowly if you can! I'll open and close gates for you in return.

From Pedro de Wit

Monday, 3 March 2014

Since some contributors to this discussion are talking about stopping mountain bikers and telling them off (or worse) it might be good to have a look at what the law says about cycling on footpaths. Cyclists are not allowed to ride on footpaths that are on the side of a road and intended for pedestrian use. This is stated in the Highway Act and can incur an on the fine spot.

A cyclist who rides on a footpath away from a road commits trespass 'against the holder of the land over which the path runs'. This is not a criminal offence. It is up to the landowner to resolve any problems. If for example a mountain biker rides on a footpath owned by Calderdale Council it is very likely that he is committing trespass. If a Rights of Way Officer employed by the same council would encounter such a cyclist there is however nothing he can do to stop him/her. He would probably recommend a few other paths nearby but he does not have the power to ask for a name and address or to fine this cyclist.

Various councils/authorities have the power to make bylaws to restrict or stop cycling on certain paths. If they decide to do so infringements become a criminal offence and cyclists can be fined. However to enforce this there should be notices at the start and end of the path informing users on what restrictions are in place.

In our area we also have some so called permissive bridleways. These are the ones marked with an orange footpath-like dashed line on 1:25 000 OS maps. There is no statutory right of way on these paths but the landowner has allowed it to be used as a bridleway. It might look like a footpath to you and me but cyclists have just as much rights on them as walkers. Cyclists can also legally use Restricted Byways (they're not restricted for bicycles) and Byways Open To All Traffic, unless restrictions are in place.

The point I am making is that it is not always clear cut where cyclists can ride. Therefore discussing this matter when you encounter mountain bikers on a path will not bring a solution. It probably just escalates into verbal abuse. It is easier and safer if cyclists warn walkers of their approach and slow down and for walkers not to act militant and pretend they know the law of the land.

From Felicia J

Tuesday, 4 March 2014

"…The point I am making is that it is not always clear cut where cyclists can ride. Therefore discussing this matter when you encounter mountain bikers on a path will not bring a solution."

Pedro has pointed up something that I was going to add to the debate. Cyclists, I think that you would choose your route before setting off? Then using the OS map will let you know the exact status of your planned journey. Or is it more like the sat nav situation, "I have a vehicle (bike) can/want to get through that way and it's the quickest route regardless of if it's a route for bikes or not"

From Andy M

Tuesday, 4 March 2014

Most mountain-bikers aren't out there to make their route as short as possible Felicia! It's not a commute

From Tim B

Wednesday, 5 March 2014

The bottom line is the only person who can realistically try and stop cyclists using public footpaths is the landowner. If a number of cyclists use a public footpath for twenty years or more, without challenge from the landowner, the route will become a bridleway. It is then totally OK for bicycles and horses to use the route, the nature of the surface and safety issues are irrelevant.

Have a look at this website – as it says on the home page 'to be viewed with an open mind'!

From Mike R

Thursday, 6 March 2014

It used to be you could escape from the perils of mountain bike encounters on footpaths by walking in Hardcastle Crags. They had a policy of no bikes anywhere in the Crags except the bridleway which runs up Crimsworth Dean to Shackleton.

Unfortunately, it seems the NT no longer have the resources or inclination to put up signs informing bikers as to this prohibition. Having seen groups of them happily parking their bikes at Gibson Mill Service Station for refreshments, it would appear they're not much bothered either especially if they can grab some cash from them. All very well until they bear down on you on one of the more challenging paths at the river's edge or on the tops, many of which are barely wide enough for one person.

I don't think it's asking too much to expect the NT to clear any confusion and sort this problem out.

From Jim L

Sunday, 9 March 2014

Hi Mike, I too noticed the change in the NT stance on cycling along the 'road' to Gibson Mill last Sunday, in fact they may have been our bikes propped up at the mill as we enjoyed tea and cake sat at the same table as one of the NT volunteers. For the first time in years I felt comfortable and legitimate in my chosen path. I have previously ignored the signs and this is my reason why.

We live in the centre of Hebden with 3 children and no garden, like most kids they will happily sit in front of a screen all day however I do try and get them outside to do some form of exercise, the idea of a walk is never met with much excitement they do however love riding their bikes. The roads around this town are just not safe enough to ride on with children, and generally drivers attitudes towards what is obviously a young family legitimately using a public highway often angers me. So for me roads are out of bounds other than when totally necessary.

Unfortunately our network of bridleways, considering how much open countryside we have is ridiculously small and the bridleways we have usually involve huge climbs (like upto Shackleton). When all this is combined I am left with fewer options for family cycling than most people living in a city centre! Which I find slightly ridiculous. Our first option is to ride the towpath or the cycleway to Mytholmroyd, we often do this however it is totally uninspiring.

Cast your mind back to your childhood, I'm sure you will all remember the pain of pedalling up hill on your bicycle followed by the thrill and excitement of the whizzing back down the other side, my kids (and me) are no different, a 5 Mile pedal along the flat towpath is OK but occasionally we need a bit more. So our only other option is to feel the burn, and endure the slightly unsafe pedal up Keighley Road battling with impatient drivers and the moans of young children. From turning off midgehole Road we get our first rush of wind as we glide back down hill and the smiles are back.

This balance of achievable climbing and descending is repeated several times as we courteously mix with walkers and runners making our way to the most important part of any outdoor excursion, the rest, the treat at the end if the road, tea and cake! Now if you or anyone can point out alternatives or new routes that don't involve an impossible level of climbing I will be glad to hear of them. I do apologise if we have ever terrorised you in the past.

Roads, bridleways, footpaths, I ride them all, I am always courteous to other people using the same space and only twice in the last 8 years have I been accosted for riding where I shouldn't be, I'm general met with a smile and a polite hello, which of course is returned. During the same period I have witnessed an amazing amount of erosion, this has not been caused by any one activity but by the water that regularly torrents down our Valley sides. Some paths are unrecognisable to how they were a few years ago. This is something that will never change. I do hope mountain bikers who ride in this area can be safe and courteous and that the walkers can learn to live with the more contemporary ways to enjoy our incredible landscape.

From Susan Williams

Wednesday, 4 June 2014

Sorry, yet another post about the annoying species called "Mountain Bikers".

I am privileged to live with access to extensive woodland, and over the past 10-15 years, there has been an increase in the number of mountain bikers who are intent upon flying past walkers without a second thought.
I am not stupid enough to think that we will ever get it stopped but it might lessen the tension between the two groups if the mountain bikers just slowed down or preferably stop when encountering walkers.

The National Trust in a survey said that footpaths are spoilt by both walkers and mountain bikers. The mountain bikers deepen the muddy paths and the walkers widen them because it is the only way to negotiate them.

I understand that the Cyclist Touring Club's own website states that cyclists should not use public footpaths.

I just ask bikers the question - "what part of public footpath do you not understand". I will either be ignored, told to go forth an multiply etc.
It is just a bit comforting to know that other people feel as strongly about the matter as I do.

From Andy M

Monday, 9 June 2014

So Susan; by saying '....the annoying species called "Mountain Bikers"' you're including all mountain bikers? (including me as it happens!) Some MTB'ers are thoughtless; most, in my experience, are not.

But you are right about riding on footpaths - it can be a nuisance.

From Martin S

Wednesday, 9 July 2014

As a walker and Mountain Biker, this issue has been troubling me for some time.

The conclusion I have muddled my way to is this;

Using byways erodes them, whether bicycles or boots.
We live in an area that is nationally renowned for mountain-biking and walking, something that helps to fuel the local economy (e.g. May's Shop)
Maybe the best solution would be to properly maintain the byways?

Let's face it, our footpaths and bridleways are in total disarray - no different from our roads. They are a valuable resource and we should look invest in them.

I think inconsiderate people are a separate issue. I have had imbeciles on bikes hurl themselves at me on a narrow footpath but I have also cycled past many people who have been greeted by a bell in the distance to let them know I'm coming and a cheery low-speed hello - whether their dog or children were trying to throw themselves under my wheels or not (while they were too busy on their iphone to pay them any attention).

From Julie C

Wednesday, 16 July 2014

I have walked on footpaths with a very deaf friend, unaware of bike bells etc. An arm grabbed by a buddy was all that saved her from being ridden down. It would make walking by herself on a footpath quite unsafe.

From Andy M

Thursday, 17 July 2014

Local Authorities having enough money to maintain all rights of way to a good standard is sadly a thing of the past - and maybe not even then! However, I think around here most rights of way are in a reasonable state . . . at the moment.

From Peter E

Tuesday, 22 July 2014

I'm a teenager and I feel there is not much to do in the area, I ride around the Calder area mountain biking I do use footpaths and I feel I use them responsibly. When I come across a walker I slow down to a safe speed or even stop. When the ground is muddy or wet I avoid using the paths because that's when they get eroded. If any damage is seen to the trail I would have a cool down period to let the path recover and not suffer any permanent damage.

I would encourage other bikers to take these simple precautions into action to prevent any further problems. I do not feel a ban of cyclists on these paths is necessary but I can understand why it is in place. There are mtb only trails in the area but they are rare as they are made by bikers. I feel that if there were more of these this problem wouldn't occur. Tell me if I'm being unreasonable here.

From Susan Quick

Friday, 25 July 2014

Thank you Peter E for your very reasonable contribution to the debate. I live along the canal towpath and I fear I am less than happy that because it is now an official cycle way many cyclists believe that they have priority. I propose that a policy be established whereby priority is given first to the horse (although it would appear sadly to have left us); second to walkers, with cyclists being third.

As a disabled walker I am quite unable to jump out of the way for cyclists, I have poor balance and if I am not to fall must spread my weight across the path. Friends with arthritis and gout have similar difficulties. I would ask that cyclists understand that many of us are unable to move swiftly.

Also what has happened to the fishermen? Once there were many seated along the canal in the fishing season. We walkers were happy to negotiate their rods and the fishermen always did their best not to impede our right of way so it was a pleasure to walk along the towpath in fishing season. I haven't seen them for ages. I hope they haven't been forced off the canal in order to give priority to cyclists.

From Myra James

Monday, 28 July 2014

Regarding the designation of the canal towpath between Hebden Bridge and Todmorden as part of the National Cycleway, pedestrians definitely do have priority. The Greenway between Hebden Bridge and Mytholmroyd, which is not on the towpath, has a sign at either end setting out a code of conduct. Cyclists are advised that pedestrians have priority, to alert pedestrians with "two tings" when they wish to pass and to pass slowly. Pedestrians are asked to listen for "two tings" and be ready to allow cycles to pass.

As someone who regularly cycles on both these sections of the cycleway, I know how important it is to approach pedestrians carefully. They might not hear your "two tings" so you have to be ready to slow right down, perhaps say "Excuse me please" and maybe even stop. I hope that the signs setting out the code of conduct will also be installed on the towpath section.

I don't think that horses are permitted on either the towpath (except for those that draw barges, but these no longer operate) or the Greenway.

From Susan Williams

Wednesday, 30 July 2014

Just seen Andy M's response to my comments. Yes, it probably does read that I have lumped all mountain bikers in the "nuisance" category. Sadly, in Broughton Woods, North Lincolnshire, these are the only representatives we encounter.

Last night I had the pleasure of finding 12+ mountain bikers hurtling towards me and my dog (who stops immediately on command).

When I asked them if they thought it was fair to approach walkers at speed and wouldn't it show a bit of consideration to simply slow down, I was treated to a two finger gesture, a one finger gesture and an "f" off.

I wonder if they would like to hear that their mothers, wives or sisters had been treated in such a manner?

So, another stroll in the woods ruined. It is very upsetting to receive such treatment.

We had the local Rights of Way Officer meet with us on site and she put up signs to warn cyclists, horse riders and motor cyclists that they are now allowed to use the public footpaths. Most were torn down within a couple of days!

We will never stop it - I just keep hoping that somewhere along the line the opposing sides can reach some mutual understanding. I always have my dog under control which is also a requirement of being allowed to use the public footpaths.

I'm 67 years old. My Golden Retriever is 5 in October so at best I am looking at another 6/7 years for him to be with me. Sadly there are times when I come back from walks and I am saying to myself "I don't know if I can cope with this anymore - I don't need the hassle and upset". That would mean re-homing him. All of this as a result of mountain bikers!!

From Andy M

Thursday, 31 July 2014

Susan: that does sound a particulalry bad and unpleasant case. I hope something can be done about it - perhaps a case for one of the (very) new Public Spaces Protection Orders

From Graham Barker

Thursday, 31 July 2014

Truly awful. To me it sounds more like a case for the police. Bikers who are as aggressive as that are unlikely to stop at one incident.

From Kath M

Thursday, 14 August 2014

Walking into Hebden on the canal towpath recently I saw 2 bikes approaching rather speedily (I thought) they tinkled their bells once but did not slow down. There were 2 children ahead and oblivious of what was approaching but luckily their parents saw in time and managed to pull them to the side avoiding what could have been a collision. We called after them to slow down to no avail.

Shortly after, a bit further on, my husband had to do the same for me as another one sped by me. Again we called, "Slow Down" and she shouted back, "Turn your hearing aids on!" I haven't got hearing aids but neither of us heard her approaching us.

Why do some bike riders act in such a rude and uncaring manner? I felt really nervous after that. I am by no means elderly or hard of hearing but if I was I wouldn't expect to be treated like that.