Cycling UK has been shouting about the joys and benefits of cycling in the countryside for over 140 years. The machines might be different today, but the sense of adventure remains the same. It's because we know how fantastic rural cycling is that we want to make it easier for people to share this experience.

Widening access

In England and Wales we have over 140,000 miles of public rights of way, such as footpaths and bridleways.

They form one of our most valuable rural resources, developed in some cases over thousands of years, and are open to everyone, so long as you’re walking.

However, head off-road by bike or on a horse and you’ll soon find yourself limited in where you can ride by a confusing array of archaic laws which block off close to 80 per cent of the network.

There is a legal right to cycle on bridleways and byways, but these make up only 22% of the rights of way network in England and Wales and are often fragmented, making it difficult to put together a route avoiding busy roads.

It’s time our rights of way were based on suitability, not historic designation as footpath or bridleway.

Just imagine what cycling in the countryside would be like if cyclists...

  • could ride on some of the 80% of the network they can't use now in England and Wales;
  • were able to access more of the National Trails; 
  • could enjoy recreational rides which linked cycle-friendly quiet roads to rights of way;
  • were welcomed to National Parks which appreciated the benefits of promoting cycling. 

Our history of campaigning for off-road access

1968 - Countryside Act

Cycling UK (then CTC) campaigning won the right to cycle on bridleways and create long distance cross country routes

2003 - Land Reform (Scotland) Act

We made sure cycling was included in the changes to public access

2015 - Trails for Wales  

The Welsh Government began a consultation on outdoor access, and Cycling UK launched a joint campaign with OpenMTB

2017 - Trails for Wales part 2

A second consultation, and this time we joined forces with other outdoor organisations leading to thousands of responses in support of wider access

2017 - Rides of Way report 

We conducted the first national survey of all types of off-road cyclists to inform our campaigning

2018 - Agriculture Bill 

Cycling UK lobbying ensured that public access was included as a 'public good' in the criteria for post-Brexit agricultural payments

2018 - North Downs Way

We launched and rode an alternative fully rideable route for the North Downs Way National Trail

2019 - Trails for Wales

The Welsh Government announces plans to improve outdoor access for everyone following four years of campaigning

2019 - Great North Trail

Cycling UK launched an 800-mile off-road trail extending the Pennine Bridleway up to Cape Wrath and John o' Groats on the north coast of Scotland