Letter: Rocky road for rural walkers and off-road cyclists

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The Independent Online
Sir: The Council for the Protection of Rural England's policy on mountain biking ('Calls for brake on mountain biking', 9 May) is based on false premises and muddy thinking. There is no evidence that mountain bikes cause more damage to trails than walkers and horse-riders.

In fact, evidence from properly conducted studies in the US indicates that the environmental impact of mountain bikes is about equivalent to that of walkers and considerably less than horses. Similarly, the 'conflict' between mountain bikers and walkers is an issue created from a very few minor incidents.

The council's reasoning that mountain biking should be banned because mountain bikes cause trail damage and a few mountain bikers do not know how to behave in the countryside is equivalent to calling for a ban on driving because some drivers are aggressive and dangerous, and cars wear out the roads.

This is clearly nonsense; the authorities have a duty to maintain footpaths and bridleways just as they do roads, and the council should be calling for these duties to be properly carried out for the benefit of all.

Yours sincerely,

JOHN STEVENSON

Editor, Mountain Biking UK

Bath

10 May

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