Increased Welsh footpath access for cycling a “landmark step” according to Cycling UK
Cycling UK has hailed Welsh Government proposals to allow cycling and horse riding on footpaths as a “landmark step”. The development comes following publication of the consultation “Taking forward Wales’ sustainable management of natural resources” earlier this week.
At present, cyclists are only legally entitled to use 21 per cent of the rights of way network in Wales.
In a joint response to the 2015 consultation ‘Improving opportunities to access the outdoors for responsible recreation’, Cycling UK and OpenMTB called for increased cycle access in Wales and an outdoor access code to ensure responsible behaviour from all users, among a number of other measures.
The consultation received 5,796 total responses, with over 4,000 responses backing Cycling UK and OpenMTB’s Trails for Wales campaign.
The Welsh Government is now 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.”
Similar increased access policies were introduced in Scotland through the Land Reform (Scotland) Act 2003 and have significantly benefited the Scottish economy. A Transform Scotland report estimated off road and leisure cycle tourism contribute between £236.2m and £358m per year.
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.”
There is concern in some quarters about potential conflict between cyclists, walkers and horse riders and Cycling UK therefore also welcomed proposals for the development of a statutory code for access to the outdoors.
The organisation does however believe that there is still an opportunity for the Welsh Government to allow people to cycle on access and common land, such as windfarm and utility tracks, and says it will look to make this case in its response to the consultation.