be nice to horse riders and walkers.

For my American readers I was going to do a piece on Bridleways; what they are, history and use kind of thing. But my research lasted for all of a minute before I realised that it is actually a bit of a boring topic. There are papers and papers on the subject, along with websites devoted to them. To say they are dry reading is a bit of an insult to dryness.

I can summarise: A bridleway is a pathway for horses that can be used by walkers. Cyclists do not have a right to use them per say, but are allowed to.

The moot point here being that the powers that be may remove that right.

Now who has more clout within council meetings? Us grubby mountain bikers, or the councillor's who quite probably own the land that the bridleway crosses, and their daughter Petra who attends weekly equestrian events? Not to mention the Peter Storm brigade and their staunch allegiance to keeping open all ancient land access rights.

In terms of clout in keeping bridleways open, these days the Disability Act comes first, horse riders and walkers second, and mountain bikers will have the opportunity to have their say after the meeting has been closed, perhaps after everybody has gone home for tea. We're that far down the list.

So people, if you want to be able to ride your bike freely at the weekend, please be nice out there. Give way to just about everybody and try not to do anything that will cause offence. We're not high on any access agendas. Indeed even horse riders whom the bridleways are named after are no longer the primary consideration. Just look on any forum at the moaning that goes on when trails are turned into smooth double-tracks. If horse riders themselves are now coming second in any access discussions, where do you think we come, what with our aggressively big bikes and rad attitudes? These days with council funding being what it is, any problem agendas would be made to go away through possible access restrictions or trail levelling through the application of unsuitable hardcore. I'm not sure we want that kind of hassle.
  • Don't ride fast into blind bends.
  • Slow or stop for horse riders.
  • However annoying walkers will be, carry on being polite to them.
  • In no way do 'trail maintenance' that may impinge access for disabled people.