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Global phenomenon YouTube is being used to urge mountain bikers to help keep Wales’s forests safe by being more aware of horse riders who share the popular trails.
Forestry Commission Wales has produced a two-minute clip which it has uploaded onto the video-sharing website telling mountain bikers to “Stop, Stand, Speak” whenever they meet horse riders.
The video, called Respect: Share the Trail, shows how dangerous the trails can be if no consideration is given to horse riders, and then demonstrates what to do to stay safe.
The clip was shot on a mountain bike trail at the Forestry Commission Wales centre in Bwlch Nant-yr-Arian, near Aberystwyth and can also be viewed on the Forestry Commission Wales recreation channel at www.youtube.com/user/fcwalesrec?ob=0&feature=results_main.
Dave Liddy, Forestry Commission Wales Visitor Management Advisor, said, “Mountain bike riders, just like anyone else, have to share the countryside with other users but, while bikes can generally be relied upon to behave as directed by their owner, the same is not true for horses.
“Approached from behind, or if bikes suddenly come into view, horses can be spooked and behave unpredictably. This can be disastrous for the rider and, even if they manage to stay on, they might struggle to control a frightened horse.”
Dave said he had witnessed the results of a frightened horse coming into contact with a mountain bike which left both riders shaken but, fortunately, unharmed.
There are now more than 350km of purpose-built singletrack mountain bike trails in Welsh Government woodlands, which attract over a quarter of a million riders every year.
However, there are estimated to be around 90,000 horses in Wales and horse riding is also permitted in most of these woodlands. Also, both mountain bikers and horse riders are legally allowed to use public bridleways, byeways and unclassified public roads in the wider countryside.
“The potential for conflict is obvious. The ‘Stop, Stand, Speak’ message really ought to be at the forefront of any bike rider’s mind,” said Dave.
“As a responsible land manager, we want to raise the awareness of mountain bikers using our trails, but the message is just as applicable anywhere in the countryside.”
Forestry Commission Wales Recreation Ranger Andy Braund said, “Whether you’re riding a horse or a bike, just a little consideration and respect can mean the difference between a safe, fun, ride or a tragic accident or ill feeling between different users.”
The video was produced by Maia Media and the horse riding community helped to bring the message to life.
“It’s been great to deal with the British Horse Society on this issue and sense the shared passion for the countryside that they have with mountain bikers,” said Dave.
The video can be viewed on video sharing sites at www.youtube.com/watch?v=AeuERJQH714 or http://vimeo.com/36488095 and on mbwales.com and via Facebook and Twitter.
Caption: An image from the new Forestry Commission Wales video, Respect: Share the Trail.
NOTES TO EDITORS
A total of 14.3 per cent of Wales is covered by woodlands. Of this, 38% (126,000 hectares/311,000 acres) is owned by the Welsh Government.
Forestry Commission Wales is the Welsh Government’s department of forestry and manages these woodlands on its behalf.
For more information on recreation in Welsh Government woodlands, contact Dave Liddy on 01341 423893, mobile 07881 502224, email email@example.com
More information on the woodlands of Wales is available on www.forestry.gov.uk/wales
Visit News at FC Wales for news, images, press office contact details and links to case studies.
Press office contact: Clive Davies on 0300 068 0061, mobile 07788 190922, email firstname.lastname@example.org