Could Wales lead the way in off-road access?

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

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." 

CTC and the MTB Advocacy Group believe this will only be achieved with a root and branch reform of the current access settlement, an opportunity which the consultation presents. The MTB Access Group believes that off-road cyclists need to seize this opportunity for their advantage, saying: "On previous occasions where [access] has been debated, there's been plenty of representation from landowners, walkers, fishermen and horse riders, but little or none from mountain bikers." 

Current legislative framework predates mountain biking, and with the consultation there is a possibility of a refresh which will represent the needs and requirements of today's outdoor enthusiast. Importantly, a successful outcome for off-road cycling in Wales will help frame the debate on future access issues across the UK.

Following on from the Active Travel Wales Act this green paper provides another opportunity to realise the ambition of the First Minister Carwyn Jones to make Wales a cycling nation."  
Gwenda Owen
Chair of CTC's Strategy and Policy Board

Gwenda Owen, CTC Trustee and Chair of CTC's Strategy and Policy Committee, sees the consultation's focus on creating "easy affordable access" as a key means to address social deprivation in Wales and the lack of access to green spaces. Also, with waistbands ever expanding, by making the outdoors more accessible and enjoyable, any subsequent increase in physical activity will help tackle the growing obesity crisis which besets the UK.

The MTB Advocacy Group and CTC will be submitting an in depth response to the consultation in due course, but also would encourage all cyclists who enjoy outdoor access to submit their views.