State of the nation off-road cycling survey launched

Cycling UK and OpenMTB's off-road cycling is looking to address the needs for all off-road users
Cycling UK and OpenMTB are today (Wednesday, 24 August) launching the first national survey of off-road cycling activity in England and Wales.

Increased access for cyclists has remained high on the agenda following Cycling UK and OpenMTB’s high-profile joint “Trails for Wales” campaign. While the popularity of off-road cycling, including mountain biking, appears to be on the increase, there is still a lack of information about the where, how and why people are riding off-road. 

This survey will allow us to establish an accurate picture of riding behaviour – and how it fits with the present access arrangements in England and Wales. It will also provide an opportunity to look at the health, economic and social benefits of off-road cycling in all its forms.

In particular, through this survey, Cycling UK wants to understand whether the current system of Rights of Way causes unnecessary confusion or alienates new riders.

Under current laws cyclists have a right to use a mere 22% of England’s rights of way network, and just 21% in Wales. Whether a route is a footpath, a bridleway or a byway is generally determined by its history of past usage, and not at all by its suitability. This can mean cycling may be permitted on an unrideable muddy bridleway but not on a tarmac-surfaced footpath, even where it is used privately by motor vehicles. 

Roger Geffen MBE, Cycling UK’s Director of Policy said:

“Cycling UK has a long history of enabling people to enjoy cycling in appropriate off road settings, and in ways that respect walkers, wildlife and the natural environment. 

“Our Trails for Wales campaign showed us the huge interest in promoting outdoor access through cycling, but it also highlighted a lot of the confusion about what is allowed, as well as concerns about managing potential conflict with other users. 

“We’ve seen in Scotland how off-road cycling can thrive in harmony with all other outdoor users, and Cycling UK now wants to understand how we can bring the same benefits to England and Wales.”

OpenMTB representative Stace King, who led on development of the survey, said:

“We're calling on all off-road cyclists, from family riders to mountain bikers, to complete the survey and help us make the case for better access rights. And please don't stop there, please share the survey on social media and encourage others to do the same. We want as broad a response to this as possible.

“Lots of people already feel that current access legislation doesn’t reflect what’s happening on the ground – so we want to get some solid data on the subject.”

The survey can be accessed at: from 24 August, with all complete responses being entered into a prize draw for an iPad Mini. 


Notes to editors

  1. Cycling UK, at 138 years old, is Britain’s oldest transport organisation and until recently was known as CTC, the national cycling charity.
  2. Open MTB is a campaign group formed to represent the views of mountain bike enthusiasts. For further information go to:
  3. Cycling UK has a long established history of facilitating better access to the countryside. In 1968 Cycling UK secured access for cycles to use bridleways. The organisation later fought successfully for a presumed access policy in the Scottish Land Reform Act (2003), and ensured that the Natural Environment and Rural Communities Act (2006) included provision for restricted byways rights to be claimed on the basis of past cycle use.
  4. Cycling UK most recently campaigned for increased access in Wales with its Trails for Wales campaign, following the Welsh Government consultation: ‘Improving opportunities to access the outdoors for responsible recreation’…. The Green Paper received 5,796 total responses, with over 4,000 responses backing Cycling UK’s calls for adoption of Scottish style access laws.
  5. For Cycling UK’s full policy on off-road issues use the “Off Road Access” filter on this page:


Press contact information

Cycling UK Press Office
Telephone: 01483 238 315