Guidelines for protecting and sharing the trails.
A huge part of mountain biking’s attraction is the freedom and safety that comes without having to share trails with drivers. However, with great fun and freedom comes great responsibility. Given the increased number of hikers, dog walkers, horse riders and cyclists using shared paths and trails, it’s important to know that the rural environment has its own traffic regulations. We’ve listed some simple but important recommendations for when you hit the trails, to ensure that everyone can benefit from shared paths.
Respect the track
If the trail is shut, it’s shut for a reason. Be it to protect the environment or for your own safety, we can guarantee that it’s not a personal attack by the trail conservators to ruin your fun day out. Venturing out even when the trails are shut isn’t just illegal, it gives us cyclists a bad rep!
As a rule of thumb, practice the “Leave No Trace” principle and you should be grand. This includes taking all your rubbish home with you, such as punctured inner tubes, water bottles and yep, even banana skins!
It’s a big no-no to open new paths or modify existing ones, building unauthorised singletrack or adding trail features are detrimental to everybody’s access and to the environment. Poorly built features could also seriously injure other trail users.
To do your bit, you could even help your local club or trail care alliance maintain and build new trails. Find out more information here.
Mind the animals
When it comes to wildlife, take precautions and respect the environment you are in. Animals can be startled by an unannounced approach, a sudden movement, or a loud noise. This can upset dogs, startle horses, scatter cattle, sheep and disturb wildlife. Be aware of your potential impact on animals and take care to avoid disturbing them; it’s their home after all.
Be sure to close any gates behind you, escaped cows won’t make you too popular with the local farmers, and not to mention, it is very dangerous.
If you want to pass a slower rider, use your bell to alert them (or call out) and be aware that they may not be able to pull over to the side right away. Pass slow and wide, and remember to give your thanks. And vice versa, if you’re trundling along and there’s someone faster coming up behind you, move over to let them pass when it’s safe to do so.
For any reason, you may want to stop and have chat with your mates or should you get the inevitable puncture, don’t block the trail! Riders coming behind you or flying around a corner may not have time to react and avoid you.
On multi-use trails, mountain bikers give way to horses and foot traffic. There are some regional and local differences on single-use trails to make sure you check trail signage.
Ride with control
Shared paths are for sharing, not speeding. Ride with control and at a speed you can safely stop. Going too fast, inattentiveness and rudeness are the primary sources of trail conflict among user groups. Be extra aware when riding trails with poor sight lines and blind corners, and make sure you can hear what’s going on around you.
Other tips for better rides
- Be prepared. A well-prepared trip to the trail will help you and your riding buds from running into problems. Carry what you need for your ride and know how to fix a flat or make minor repairs. Download a GPS app before riding, so even if you do find yourself in the middle of nowhere on your lonesome, you’ll still be able to find your way.
- A friend in need is a friend indeed. Stop to lend a hand if you see a fellow cyclist in a spot of bother, you never know, one day you might be the person who forgot their puncture kit in the car park 15 miles away.
In a nutshell, all you need to do is be respectful of everyone (and everything) you encounter on your ride, and be aware that trails don’t just build and maintain themselves. By adopting these guidelines, you can rest assured that you’re doing your part to respect the environment and other trail users. Go you!