Peak District-based mountain bike advocacy group, Peak District MTB, this weekend launched its new ‘22%’ campaign – which aims to increase the percentage of rideable rights of way in the Peak District National Park to the level currently seen across the rest of the UK.
Currently the national percentage of rights of way that are bridleways is around 22% (Source: Cycling UK and OpenMTB), but in the Peak District National Park the figure is just 11%. This equates to just 220km of permissible routes – compared to the 2,136km of footpaths in the national park. Even if the 22% figure was reached, that would still leave 1,916km of rights of way with footpath status. Converting footpaths to public bridleways enable responsible access for walkers, horse-riders and pedal cyclists.
Peak District MTB Chair, Dan Noble, said:
“When Peak District MTB was first established around five years ago, our core goal was to increase the amount of access available to mountain bikers. In that time there have been some notable successes, especially around the fringes of Sheffield through work done by Ride Sheffield, and more recently we have had some success on the Roaches and worked with the National Trust at Lyme Park to improve access.
“However, the Peak District National Park covers some 1,437 km², the park's northern limits are on the A62 between Huddersfield and Oldham, and its southernmost point is on the A52 road near Ashbourne. In the east it borders the western fringes of Chesterfield and Sheffield and reaches as far west as the outskirts of Macclesfield. There is plenty of scope and room to improve the bridleway network.”
Announcing British Cycling’s support for the campaign, MTB Leadership Manager Dan Cook said:
“We are really pleased that Peak District MTB have shone a light on the lack of off-road cycling rights of way in the national park, and are building a constructive proposal to improve responsible access for people on bikes. The ground-up approach they have taken, led by park users, is really encouraging and something which British Cycling is proud to support.
“The evidence is widely available: that 75% of young people who access the outdoors continue to do so later in life, and that enabling access for bikes embeds mountain biking as their activity of choice. With 2.2 million regular mountain bikers in England currently - a number which is rising year on year - the need for appropriate and accessible off-road routes has never been greater.”
The campaign is being spearheaded by volunteer-led advocacy group Peak District MTB, but it is hoped that others, such as equestrian groups Peak Horsepower and the British Horse Society, will lend their support as the expansion of the bridleway network would benefit all users.
Find out more about our work to improve access for mountain bikers here.