Trails for Wales - where next?
Trails for Wales is the rallying cry for the UK’s leading cycle bodies as they responded to the Welsh Government’s consultation “Improving opportunities to access the outdoors for responsible recreation”, which ran until Friday 2 October.
The campaign called for open access to the rights of way network in Wales as enjoyed by Scotland (currently only 21% of Wales’ Rights of Way network is open to cycling), and was led by Cycling UK and Open MTB with support from Welsh and British Cycling.
The campaign hopes to follow in the footsteps of the greater access rights that have existed in Scotland since 2003. The economic benefits of increased mountain bike access has seen the Scottish economy benefit by £46.5 million a year, with indirect expenditure of up to £119 million, and the generation of over 1,300 jobs. It is hoped that Wales would enjoy similar success and help pave the way for similar open access rights to be considered in England.
The support Trails for Wales received from a wide spectrum of the cycling community – under 18s, off road, mountain bikers, celebrities and top cycling brands – as reported in the press was the greatest engagement the Welsh Government had ever had with the cycling community.
The success of Trails for Wales has been down to the wider cycling public who embraced this campaign and helped spread the word via their personal networks."
Sam Jones, Cycling UK's Trails For Wales Campaigner
Cycling UK’s online engagement tool saw a flurry of activity on the last day, thanks in part to the strong media support from MBR, Single Track World and Bike Biz with nearly 500 people signing up in the last 24 hours to take the total number of supporters to 4,050 exactly.
The cycling voice has definitely been heard. The team in the Welsh Government responsible for the consultation has confirmed to Cycling UK that on the back of such a high level of response, they will look to engage with Cycling UK and the cycling community as the consultation process continues.
While the consultation’s findings are not due to be published until the new year, this is no time to be sitting idle. Having built such momentum, Cycling UK will continuing work with our partners as we help the Welsh Government to open further Trails for Wales.
We will now look to evaluate the successes of this campaign and plan our next steps. If you think you can help, please do consider volunteering with CTC or making a donation to Cycling UK's ongoing campaigns work.