It looks like the Welsh government is seriously considering allowing mountain bikers to ride on footpaths after its latest consultation that was published on Wednesday.
Hidden away on page 38 of the ‘Taking Forward Wales’ Sustainable Management of Natural Resources’ consultaion document, is proposal 10 that says the government is hoping “To enable cycling and horse riding on footpaths to occur under the same conditions as those provided for cycling on bridleways under section 30 of the Countryside Act 1968.”
This is massive news and could open up thousands of miles worth of new trails for mountain bikers to explore.
The push for greater access in Wales has been rumbling on since 2015 and fronted by OpenMTB and Cycling UK. Wednesday’s consultation follows on from the 2015 consultation ‘Improving opportunities to access the outdoors for responsible recreation’, which received 5,796 total responses, with over 4,000 responses backing Cycling UK and OpenMTB’s Trails for Wales campaign.
The proposal could also have been pushed forwards thanks to Brexit. With EU funding gone, Wales will be looking for new opportunities and rural tourism could provide a much needed boom. In Scotland, which already has open access, it’s estimated that off road and leisure cycle tourism contribute between £236.2m and £358m per year.
Commenting on the consultation, Cycling UK Chief Executive, Paul Tuohy said:”This is a landmark step towards increasing the opportunities for cycling, health and tourism, and shows a commendable and forward thinking approach that we have come to expect from the Welsh Government.
“Thanks to the incredible support for our Trails for Wales campaign, the Welsh Government has clearly listened and seen the massive benefit cycling can have. We’re not just talking here about the rural economy, but also the nation’s physical and mental wellbeing.
“Cycling UK will now be looking to put together its response and speaking with other groups such as the British Horse Society and the Ramblers to ensure that the Welsh countryside can be enjoyed by as many people as possible without fear of conflict.”
So, how likely is this to happen? Apparently quite likely. How soon will it happen? That depends on the amount of responses received but we’ve been given a rough estimate of 2020 at the latest… hopefully.