I’m sure you’ve come across the term “cheeky riding” in conversation with other mountain bikers, on internet forums and even on our own Facebook page, but what does it mean and should you care?
Simply put, cheeky riding is riding somewhere you aren’t really allowed to ride. As mountain bikers, we don’t have a right of way on footpaths, ergo riding on footpaths is “cheeky”.
Is riding on footpaths a big problem?
What do we – at Peak District MTB – think on the matter?
Peak District MTB’s stance on riding footpaths:
Peak District MTB does not, in principle, oppose individuals and members riding mountain bikes on footpaths. We recommend and encourage mountain bikers to use bridleways, byways and other paths with access rights for cycling.
Peak District MTB will advise individuals and members against riding specific location where user conflicts, environment sensitivities or other issues are apparent. We will pass on information and requests by organisations and landowners about paths they don’t want ridden.
Peak District MTB will provide a balance of information on our website on the arguments of riding on footpath to help individuals make their own decisions on the subject. We will aim to represent the broad range of views of our members on this subject when dealing with other organisations.
Peak District MTB will not allow information (discussions on locations, photos, or routes) on our Facebook group page that promotes riding on footpath. We have this blanket policy since we don’t have the time and resources to pass judgements on what is acceptable or not for each and every case, and because it is too subjective to be consistent.
Cycling UK’s stance on riding footpaths:
Cycling UK believes that it is acceptable for cyclists to use footpaths, provided they do so in a manner which respects the safety of other path users and their peaceful enjoyment of the outdoors, and with regard for the environment and its ecology. These are the circumstances in which Cycling UK believes it is acceptable for cyclists to ride on footpaths:
Where the surface and width of the path make it eminently suitable for safe cycling without causing disturbance or risk to pedestrians; or
Where the path is lightly used, such that the likelihood of disturbance or risk to pedestrians is minimal; or
Where a path is unlikely to attract such high levels of cycling that it will cause environmental damage (notably erosion); or
Where there is a reasonable belief that the footpath in question might already carry higher rights, for example: where there is historic evidence (e.g. through enclosure award maps) demonstrating past use either by horses or by vehicles; where the path is shown on OS maps as an ‘Other Road with Public Access’ (ORPA), indicating an assumption that higher rights may exist; where there is regular use by equestrians, motor vehicles and/or by other cyclists.
What are unsanctioned MTB trails and ‘off-piste’ riding:
Whilst bridleways and designated trail centres make up the vast majority of trails enjoyed by UK mountain bikers, it is also fairly common that mountain bikers ride on trails that aren’t part of the rights of way network and that aren’t approved by the land managers and landowners. These sorts of trails come under various terms; unsanctioned, illegal, unauthorised, unofficial, ‘off-piste’, or even ‘cheeky’. For mountain bikers who might ride these sort of trails, the big questions to consider are; How will this be received by the land-managers? And what long-term effect will it have for MTB access in the area?
Read more: Unsanctioned MTB trails – How to lose friends and alienate land managers
External resources on the Law (in England) on riding mountain bikes on footpaths
Cycling UK: Bridleways byways and cycle tracks, England and Wales
Cycling UK: Bridleways byways cycle tracks – pdf
Cycling UK: Public footpaths, England and Wales
Cycling UK: Public footpaths, England and Wales – pdf
Opinions and further info about riding mountain bikes on footpaths
Cycling UK: Cycling on footpath trespass
British Cycling: Mountain bike trail etiquette
British Cycling: Open up countryside paths for people on bikes say outdoor groups
Open MTB: Everything you always wanted to know about bridleways
Cycling UK: Off-road survey (2016)
Cheeky Trail: Ethics
Peak District MTB: You’re just a nuisance
Peak District MTB: Some thoughts on open access in England
Keeper of the Peak: Rise of the idiots
Singletrack magazine’s Access All Areas series of articles on mountain bike access in the UK
Access all areas: A new threat
Access all areas: CTC campaign to defend access by bike
Access all areas: Divide and conquer
Access all areas: A policeman’s view
Access all areas: A rights of way officers view, Part 1
Access all areas: A rights of way officers view, Part 2
Access all areas: Got a minute or 2
Access all areas: Dark clouds on the horizon
Access all areas: If you only do one thing today