Following a survey of over 11,000 off-road riders, CyclingUK has produced a report into the motivations, perceptions and habits of the UK’s growing mountain biking community.
The survey was carried out jointly with OpenMTB, who you may remember from a gathering that was held to coincide with the Welsh Government’s consultation on improving access to the countryside back in September 2015.
A first of its kind in the UK, Rides of Way provides unique insight into the current off-road cycling scene based on the 11,482 responses the initial survey received. Cycling UK believes the report will be of particular use to decision makers at a local and national level, major land owners, the cycling trade and campaigners who are looking for up-to-date information on the cyclists who take to the UK’s trails and tracks every day.
The report is interesting in a number of ways, some good ways but some that continue to give us cause for concern.
It’s encouraging to see the benefits to health and wellbeing of cycling of any kind featured in these reports. Cycling is a wonderful activity that has the potential to change the world, not least because of its low environmental impact and its efficiency, but also because it makes us feel better.
The report overwhelmingly demonstrates that people value cycling as a way to improve not just their physical health, but their mental health too. Around 90% say that off-road cycling is at least fairly important for their physical and mental health. We’re not at all surprised by that.
The report also talks about the benefit to local economies from people taking a trip to ride the trails. It may surprise some people in the planning world, but we really, really do spend money…
Disappointingly, although perhaps not all that surprisingly, the vast majority of respondents were men. Of the 11,482 respondents, only 1,200 were women.
This could be put down to the way the survey was conducted, but we know that cycling of all disciplines is stubbornly dominated by men. We’ve been sat on a draft post all about that, but we will push it out soon.
However, from the survey it appears that motivations are consistent regardless of gender, with health being the primary driver for both men and women.
The challenge continues to be just how we redress the balance. Answers on a postcard…better yet, a guest post.