Yesterday Peak District MTB and Ride Sheffield were at the Peak District National Park Authority’s Local Access Forum to talk about the intriguingly titled ‘mountain bike initiatives’.
We were originally going to talk about our Cut Gate thing, but you don’t look a gift horse in the mouth and the opportunity to share what we’re doing with representatives from every other user group in the Peak District was fantastic. And it was bloody good fun too!
Rewardingly there was a really positive feeling and some very encouraging comments from all groups in the room. We’ve built some strong partnerships already and meetings like today are an excellent time to make even more friends and redress some pre-conceptions.
“Being invited along at all is recognition of how far we’ve come,” says Chris Maloney, committee member at Peak District MTB. “But being able to confidently respond to challenges and questions positively, with evidence was fantastic and really welcomed by the forum today.
“As a community we can build on this and work far more closely with other user groups to improve relationships, reputation and hopefully access to more biking in and around the Peak.”
Ride Sheffield’s Si Bowns shared the group’s strong background in partnership working, “We had great feedback after the forum and there was a real appetite to find out more from the panel. Being listened to and praised for taking a lead on an issue was really encouraging – it feels like we’re moving things on even more now, we just need to keep going.”
MAKING OUR VOICE HEARD
We’re slowly, but surely building a good reputation as a group. Partnership work such as that on the Eastern Moors, maintenance work at places like Derwent Edge and the Aston bridleway and then more ‘political’ activity like the Rushup campaign have really gone a long way to show that we’re a responsible community. And it came across loud and clear in the session.
There were challenges of course – Strava as a guide to ‘cheeky’ was mentioned, as was user conflict – but maintaining our ethos of rider responsibility “Be nice, say hi”, “don’t be a d**k”, we had constructive conversations as a result.
So what did we take from it?
Well, first of all we have an open door to talk to many of the other user groups in the Peak. We just need to make the most of it. We’ve been invited to talk to the ramblers in Sheffield and the Fell Runners and horse riders present reacted really positively to us. Peak Horsepower have even offered to add their logo and support to the Cut Gate thing. But more importantly, there was a recognition that mountain biking has to be included in the Peak’s development plans. A particularly interesting point made was to suggest that the LAF should search out suitable footpaths for permissive upgrade. All good stuff.
The question was put to us “What do you want? What’s next?” When we told them what you all already know, the response was simply “ok, what can we do to help”.
A good day for mountain biking in the Peak District. Oh, and the Cut Gate thing? The reps are taking it back to their groups now; we’ll go and talk to them and form the consensus.
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