Share Your Thoughts on Nature & Environmental Action in the UK Mountain Biking Community

Apr 23, 2023 at 13:57
by rupertbarry  

Riders survey published to explore nature experiences and environmental action in the mountain biking community in the UK.

The survey is open until the end of May gathering responses to help understand how riders experience nature while riding, awareness of environmental threats in trail locations, and motivations to engage with nature pressures facing trail locations in the UK.

It’s widely recognised that appreciating and experiencing nature is a central motivation for mountain biking. The extent to which this riding experience deepens connections with trail locations and translates into motivations to protect nature in these places has not been researched.

Whether it’s reducing impacts or leading nature restoration projects in trail locations, or voting for environmental policy, riders can support action at all scales as guardians of trails for future generations. It’s time to understand how this can become a greater part of the riding experience.

Complete the survey and enter the prize draw to win a Patagonia Dirt Roamer Bike Pack and a Trail Matters photo book by Filip Zuan.

This research project has received the IMBA Europe 'Protect & Preserve' award, which focuses on conservation and restoration efforts and is supported by Patagonia and Specialized’s Soil Searching Programme.

Author Info:
rupertbarry avatar

Member since Jun 24, 2009
2 articles

  • 14 3
 I think UK conservation is quite an interesting topic, we seem to face a number of challenges; majority of woodlands are monoculture plantations, limited space per capita for new woodland, need for food security, diminishing abundance of wildlife and other things. They all need clever thinking about as I suppose we need a timber industry, we of course need farms for food (maybe we should grow more veg instead of so many cattle and sheep?) etc.

Could be change our way of thinking about our woodland timber industry, restore natural forests of broadleaf woodland and conifer where they grow naturally and then utilise selective logging management techniques such as they use in the tropics when logging primary or secondary forest? This would allow nature a place to thrive and generate timber. The rotation times would be reduced, but because they would be producing oak hardwood would the price increase offset the reduced yield? Anyone who works in forestry have an opinion?

Surely reducing the amount of meat we produce/consume would be one of the easiest and biggest ways to help. Less space is needed to feed people on fruit and veg, which frees up land for restoration, recreation, ecosystem services etc. I understand not all of the UK is arable but we wouldn't need all of it!
  • 7 2
 Of the little access available to the public, in England & Wales, only a small percentage is allowed for non-walkers. And it's not going to get better. You can be on a bridleway/byway/ BOAT, which then becomes a footpath....absolutely no sense at all.

It may seem well meaning, but one can't help but think it's another way to limit access.
  • 2 0
 I would say it is the opposite, but greater access is about greater responsibility for the places being accessed as well. If the responses can demonstrate measurably that there is an appetite for responsible access that has to be a good thing?
  • 6 0
 @pesda: Ive had a fair few meetings with NRW regarding trails and riding on "thier" land. Every single response is negative. If NRW are engaging with a community it's because they have to as part of their remit, it's a sham exercise to show faux interest in the forests. They have one objective - fell everything burn it as biomass then erect as many windfarms as they can possibly can, they even go to the lengths of lying about tree diseases so they can circumvent rules regarding protected wildlife areas. it's disgusting how they behave.
  • 1 0
 @b45her: that's a real shame, and certainly something I experienced back in about 2008 when I was asked "what happens when you grow up?" - some years on, things like Trail Collective North Wales are changing that, and certainly round us we are lucky enough to have supportive land managers who are happy to have more trails! They are also about to destroy a red squirrel habit though, so maybe old habits die hard.
  • 2 0
 @b45her: Unfortunately, this was my experience of NRW when trying to establish a very open discussion along with my local town council about the possibility of trail building in ANY woodland/land they had within 20-30 minutes of our town, primarily for the use of local young people, but also to support the diversification of tourism in the area to better support the local economy in the winter season. The town council had been quite interested and supportive, but the resoundingly negative and blocking response from the NRW representatives, and separately, the local land manager, came as a real shock. Needless to say, it has really knocked back our town council's enthusiasm for developing something like this.
Anecdotally, this would appear to be the same case in many other parts of Wales. If you want to develop trails, it must be done in partnership with private landowners.
  • 9 5
 We’re a tiny little island with 70 million people packed into it. We don’t have nature or wildlife we killed it all and replaced it with cattle. We have city’s, farms, industrial estates even most of the forests we have or had were commercial plantations and due to larch disease and lumber being at an all time high we don’t even have those anymore. So with that being said, probably pointless filling out the survey.
  • 5 1
 If this is the future of public consultation, the countryside is f*cked!

How does the impact of my 2.4" wide tyres tracing a line over a 2' wide path cut between the trees even begin to equate to hectares of formerly managed woodland recently being ripped up to build new housing?
  • 5 1
 If the UK MTB community can vocalise how important environmental stewardship is to them - via surveys like this for example - then that might persuade land owners/managers to get more involved with the trail building/maintenance issues we currently face in the UK, it might make prospective land owners/managers see the viability of building new trails in a new area, it might unlock funding for future projects. It might even protect areas from housing developers, who knows? If it is a poorly understood aspect of the UK MTB community then this survey is at least moving it forward.

You've not even suggested a way the survey could be better, just had a moan instead.
  • 4 0
 @iainmac-1: My primary concerns are:
1) The questions are obviously leading, in favour of pushing personal responsibility. A concept I'm not opposed to if it hadn't universally been used as a scapegoat for the owners/operators to absolve themselves of responsibility. (Think Shell and carbon footprint)
2) It's not a well publicised mode of engagement. I'll grant that it going up on a PB article is a positive step, but there is little other information about the survey, it's authors, sponsors, affiliations, or the alternate avenues of the stakeholder management plan.
3) Suggested completion time 7 mins; only if you don't have anything to actually say. I'm not a fast typer especially on my phone, but I was at 15 mins for about 80% of the way through before an accidental swipe put me back at the start which leads to..
4) If I want to give a comprehensive response I want to be able to save, step away, research my response and return to it at my leisure which this Typeform survey doesn't allow.

I love my bike riding, it is my way of escaping towns and cities and getting to a space I can breathe and relax. It is something I feel passionately about and want to do what I can to protect it. I don't want a glorified Google survey to be the last line of defence in protecting all that
  • 2 0

1) The survey has a range of answers covering all bases, but the survey is part of a research project focusing on community led restoration and conservation in the MTB community so of course it will want to gauge what level of personal responsibility trail users feel towards the environmental impact on their local trails.

2) Agreed there isn't enough info in this article. For a communications specialist the author hasn't communicated it very well!

3 & 4) Took me 10 mins on the PC. If it is something you are passionate about then that isn't a lot of time. Normally one would set aside time to fill out a survey for something one feels passionate about no? A fair few in this comment section bemoaning the time to complete...obviously not a subject Pinkbikers feel that passionately about!
  • 10 6
 its clear the target is to restrict access whatever means government council and land managers can create using wildlife protection and weather.
  • 4 0
 How so? Having ridden bikes with Rupert on all sorts of trails, I don't see this being the case and if that's how it's come across it needs addressing.
  • 4 0
 Some of the questions aren't constructed properly like the one about cameras and photos. Makes me think it's not a serious survey if not spelled and proofread properly.
  • 6 3
 ChatGPT has entered the chat... Clearly the journo is spending more time riding and then giving the write up to AI
  • 3 0
 It’s a very leading questionnaire clearly designed to generate a specific answer
  • 1 1
 Ride as often and in as many places as you can whilst you still can as access is only going one way.
Within 10 years you will be stuck in your 15 minute city eating a packet of bugs whilst subscribing to watch mtb on TV thinking "I wish I rode more when I was allowed to."
  • 5 3
 The survey was a bit long, I can see people giving up half way through. At least 10 mins.
  • 4 2
 I started and got distracted, now can't be bothered to restart. So, on a sample of 1, you're correct!
  • 4 1
 Yep, lost interest after about 5 minutes, especially when asked to explain self explanatory answers.
  • 3 0
 Said 7 minutes. I want to see a speed-run video of someone completing it properly in 7 minutes.
  • 5 5
 given the different laws for access rights across the UK this is a bit of a pointless exercise.
  • 7 0
 I'd disagree - the survey content is absolutely relevant to any part of the UK, as the question of how we connect communities or individuals to nature and in doing so help protect those environments is not predicated on access rights. Yes it has a part to play, but it does not make it pointless. I guess the short is that MTBers, as individuals or communities, have a huge part to play and that is what the survey is seeking to understand - so well worth a read and a fill in.
  • 1 0
 I don't think it is pointless, but the answers here and on a UK MTB website's forum, it is very clear that the people who do seem to be bothered about this are in a small minority. This is the problem - MTBers are particularly lazy when it comes to trying to organise something for the greater good - we don't seem to be to bad if we are organising something for ourself, but for the wider MTB group - not enough people are willing to get involved and help drive change and improvement.
SOAC is absolutely brilliant, but it doesn't help develop trails if you are somewhere that has none (or what is available are farm tracks/fireroads for a good few miles - 15+ - to get to a bit of preferred riding) - the answer for that seems to be just jump in a car and drive elsewhere to go ride rather than getting a bit organised and trying to push for development locally.
Tourism seems to be based on how long a person has to travel to get to a destination - any travel of up to 1 hour and the person is considered 'local', so that needs factored in if you are looking to put a sales pitch together - anyone up to 1 hour is a 'local' and would therefore benefit from Health and Wellbeing rather than tourism potential.

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