Rise to the bait or bite your tongue?

IMAG1135I had a fantastic ride today. 18 miles in one of the quieter corners of the peak, a few muddy puddles, a few drainage channels kicked clear, some excellent descents (one thumping fall)….and two weird, unexpected challenges to us just being out on our bikes.

What do you do? Argue or bite your tongue?

Try the first one. Rocky descent done and dusted, linking two bridleways together on a road stretch. One rider way out in front and off up the turning already, then me and my friend riding two abreast having a chat. On the pavement; a chap walking a dog

“Morning!” I say, “Lovely day for it!”

“Morning!” he says, “It is!”

Then a few seconds later, “RIDE SINGLE FILE”

Rise to it? Ignore it?

The second, get to a gate to find a large group of pensioners sheltering behind the wall having a lovely picnic. Small talk.

“Was it you we saw coming down the other side?”, “Yeah that was us”, “We heard you first”, “Oh”.

Then delivered through a sweet, sweet smile; “Are you going to go and churn it all up some more then?” As we sat at the top of the rocky, resilient, specifically chosen Coldwell Clough.

What do you say? It’s a real Catch 22. Respond with evidence [EXHIBIT ONE, YOUR HONOUR] oh, and [EXHIBIT TWO, TOO, AND THREE, AND FOUR], or just ignore it?

The trouble is, you argue and mountain bikers are seen as argumentative. You don’t and we’re see as effectively in agreement with what we’re being accused of. Catch 22.

I offered a couple of answers but the moment had gone.

How do you approach that kind of thing? Comments below!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Cut Gate Path – Let’s talk about it

capture

It’s an outline of a debate….

You’ll have no doubt seen online recently that I’ve been doing a bit of work with Ride Sheffield and Peak District MTB on looking at what can be done (or indeed, needs to be done) on Cut Gate.

It’s time for you to join the debate.

You hear “at this time of year it’s best avoided” quite a lot regarding the path, but over the last few years that “time of year” has seemingly spread for about 11 months with two golden weeks in summer where it’s rideable and two frosty weeks in winter when it’s frozen.

The worry is that the collective effect of riders, walkers, horses and others up there has had an impact on the moorland – it’s just mountain bikers always seem to get the finger pointed at them.

We’ve worked on a document  that looks at the problem and suggests possible actions to take. It’s going to be shared far and wide to get as many thoughts and opinions as we can on what people think needs to happen. It’s certainly going to create a debate – and that can only be a good thing.

Even better, the document has the endorsement and support of the Peak District National Park, Sheffield City Council and The Outdoor City as well as 18 Bikes, Bike Garage and of course RS and PDMTB.

It’s a truly collaborative effort.

It’s going to be shared with the local access forum as well as other interested groups to begin the process of getting feedback. You can see it online from Ride Sheffield or Peak District MTB. Take a look. Share it. Discuss it on the pages.

Join the debate online and keep up your support!

#cutgate

 

Who died and made you Keeper of the Peak?

It’s a funny game this one. The whole ‘cycling advocacy’ thing. To some you’re a champion for the biking community; fighting their corner against the powers that are intent on curbing our fun. To others, we’re the fun police – getting all uppity and high and mighty about where people ride.

I reckon the reality is somewhere in between.

No matter where you sit on that particular fence, the honest truth of the matter is that advocacy – however the argument is made, be it through emails, twitter, picnic protests, responsible trail maintenance or campaigning – is getting more and more important if we’re to be seen as a group that can’t be ignored.

I’ve sat in meetings with various authorities where they’ve described how the mood and feeling towards mountain biking in sensitive areas like the Peak has shifted from one of horror, to acceptance and increasingly towards support. It’s nice to hear but crikey it’s taken some work. It’s also taken a hell of a lot of give and take.

I’m pretty new to it. 4 years old! A toddler. It all started when I suggested Cut Gate in winter might not be the best route. “Who died and made you keeper of the peak?” I was asked. And there you go.

Talking to other groups like Peak District MTB and Ride Sheffield and you soon find people who’ve been banging the drum for getting on for decades. They’ve been pushing and pushing for so long and now the ball is rolling – we just need to help it gain momentum. Joining those groups is a first step. Getting on a maintenance day another. There is so much you can do to help.

Over on RS, John talked about ‘being dad’ the other day. “Here come the fun police again!” but his take home message was simple – think about where you ride and when. Nobody likes slogging through a bog on their rides and inevitably it’s the single tyre track which is most recognisable in a muddy puddle regardless of how many walking boots or horses’ hooves have been through. That’s just the way it is. The perception may not be fair but that’s our square one. We just need to roll the dice, get on the way and get up a ladder or two. But even making that choice to ride somewhere else and sharing why with others really helps make the case for us as a community, and who knows; it may lead to better access, rights and support in the [near] future. We’re working on it.

2017 looks good. Talking to RS and PDMTB it feels like we’re at a tipping point. There really is momentum behind the work those groups are doing which you can read about online. Thanks to both of them for supporting KoftheP on your pages.

In the wider world too we’re looking at building support nationally and outside of the MTB community and press. It’s taking a lot of emails, a lot of effort and a lot of missed riding time – but it’s worth it and we’ll carry on.

So, enough of this wittering. Keep up tweeting, get on and support your local advocacy groups and enjoy your ride!

Ride. Tweet. Update.

KoftheP

 

 

 

Rushup Consultation -KoftheP response

dscf0236The second consultation on the work up on Rushup Edge ends on November 28th.

To have pushed Derbyshire County Council to run a second consultation was a huge effort from the collected groups campaigning against the work. They deserve a huge amount of thanks and a huge amount of credit for that achievement.

Now it’s down to you – the very people whose support has made DCC think twice – to make it very clear to them that the way they’ve gone about consulting with groups and the work they’ve done so far is simply not right. You need to tell them that while some of the proposed elements of the new plan look promising, they have to stick to their promise and not to have wasted another ton of time and money on what could effectively be a phoney consultation.

As one of the main campaigners I have written a response I want to share with you all before it is submitted to DCC. Hopefully it fits with your thoughts on the work. You may wish to use elements of it to shape your own response too.

For more input to your own response, PDMTB have also been nipping at the heels of DCC and produced some in depth work on what the council have proposed. Take a look. And bravo folks.



KoftheP draft response:

Peter J White

Rights of Way Officer

Derbyshire County Council

County Hall

Matlock

Derbyshire DE4 3AG

14TH November 2016

Dear Mr White,

I am writing to officially respond to the second consultation on Chapel-en-le-Frith BOAT 144. As one of the primary objectors to the original work it was disappointing to not be consulted directly regarding the revised plans or at the very least given early notification that a second consultation was under way.

As you are already aware, Keeper of the Peak is a Twitter based community of over 1600 people – all who have a passion for the Peak District. Please regard this response as also representative of those 1600+ people.

You state in the consultation that the main aim of the work is

  • To avoid continuous erosion of the surface.
  • To manage water during periods of heavy rain.
  • To provide a sustainable surface for the use of the public.

The plan for work on 144 does not sufficiently show how and where you will do this, nor does it provide any justification as to why it is necessary. Compared to other consultations you have issued, it is non-committal, lacking in sufficient detail to allow an informed response and provides you with flexibility to do what you wish on the 770m in question.

On the details:

  • To avoid continuous erosion of the surface.

The surface, in the main, was already at bedrock. Erosion will not continue or occur unless materials prone to erosion are placed on the track. This is precisely what you propose to do by the use of granular gritstone as a surfacing material. It is nonsensical.

  • To manage water during periods of heavy rain.

The track is a sunken route between two high banks. Any water will naturally follow the route of the track. Unless you propose to provide robust drainage down the entire length of the track, there is nowhere to provide water run-off. The current bedrock surface already allows this. In addition, creating route length drainage would narrow the width of the route thus affecting access for users. Finally, talking to the landowner, they are happy for water to run off away from their land to the road (and the managed drainage of the highway). Your plan can only work if you intend to drain on to their land.

  • To provide a sustainable surface for the use of the public.

The surface is sustainable without work. The plans you have made create an ongoing maintenance need that didn’t exist before. Granular gritstone surfacing has been shown to wash away even with ‘robust’ drainage channels. The work on Chapel Gate completed on the Edale side is wearing away and drainage ditches are full of washed off surfacing. With no maintenance budget assigned to 144, your proposed plan is simply not sustainable.

That said, there are elements of the plan which are sensible. Stone pitching to ‘patch’ those sections where users may have identified a need for sensitive maintenance is sensible, avoids erosion, manages water along the route and is sustainable. Your assertion that you will follow the Pennine Bridleway standards which were used for maintenance on the Roych is reassuring –– please note however that those who cite the Roych as a best practice example refer specifically to the stone pitching elements shown as an example in your plan.

It is important for Derbyshire County Council to note that mountain bikers are one of, if not the largest user group for this route. In earlier consultations this group has been overlooked or apparently, wilfully ignored.

You ask whether if implemented the scheme may affect use and/or enjoyment of the route. A survey by objecting partner group Peak District MTB showed that some 90% of 1400 respondents would enjoy the route less. It’s important to point out that only 2% of respondents in that survey were aware of Derbyshire County Council’s original plan. Consultation failed.

As stated in my earlier response I support the recommendations that Derbyshire County Council (DCC) should:

  • remove all materials that have been placed on the route and return it to its original state
  • ensure that all maintenance is as sensitive, minimal and sustainable as possible for this and all future work on rights of way
  • ensure that the current materials are removed and replaced with planned and designed stone pitching akin to the Roych, if maintenance or repair to this route is unavoidable
  • ensure that smaller steps remain and that solid bedrock is left intact and visible, remaining consistent with the nature of the high moorland trail, should the larger steps be removed
  • treat the route as a bridleway, given that a permanent TRO is in place

Regarding the priority of maintenance on the route, I believe 144 is a low priority route in line with the Countryside Agency and English Nature’s definition:

  • Paths in sites where accessible facilities are not present, or where it is inappropriate and
  • economically unviable to provide such facilities
  • Isolated paths where few people are likely to use the route (those in areas of significant heritage value may be an exception to this rule)
  • Paths where accessible public transport or parking places are unlikely to be provided
  • Paths where the natural site constraints do not allow for fully accessible paths
  • Paths in locations with high landscape value, where the visual impact of a fully accessible path cannot be overcome
  • Paths in open countryside/wild land
  • Paths where the cost of improving and maintaining to the highest access standards cannot be justified

It is my firm belief that Derbyshire County Council’s Rights of Way team have failed to sufficiently consult with users affected by these changes and that despite repeated and consistent objection, that they are determined to continue the work regardless of concerns raised.

The latest consultation does little to change that assumption.

To summarise, the new plan shows insufficient detail to make an informed response on the work. Instead, users of the route – primarily mountain bikers – are left to guess, gamble and trust you to complete the works in line with their overwhelming feedback that the mentioned stone pitching/Roych approach is favoured. Based on your previous projects – Long Causeway springs to mind – this may be foolhardy.

I stand by my earlier response and the points I make in this letter. I look forward to seeing this response featured in upcoming discussions related to the ongoing work.

As a final point I would like to suggest that none of this was necessary. Had Derbyshire County Council consulted proactively and openly with interested user groups, a collaborative, constructive and satisfactory outcome could have been found far sooner. You have been invited to collaborate with local advocacy groups repeatedly. Repeatedly you have ignored or refused those invitations. There is clear evidence that when authorities engage with local community groups a proactive and constructive relationship can develop. You have steadfastly – bizarrely – refused to engage with these groups. Two years into this ‘project’ maybe you will consider changing your approach.

Yours sincerely

KoftheP


 

Rushup: make yourself heard

The second consultation on the Rushup Edge work ends on November 28 and we need as many people to feed back to them as we can possibly get – riders, walkers, horse-riders, everyone.

It was really something of an achievement to get Derbyshire County Council to run a second consultation on the work on Rushup Edge – (technically Chapel-en-le-Frith-Byway-Open-to-All-Traffic-144).

Does it mean this campaign – a campaign which started over two years ago – has been a success? Well no. The campaign will only be a success when DCC listens to the overwhelming opposition to their intended work and works with interested groups to finish the job to everyone’s satisfaction. It doesn’t look like they’re intending on doing this anytime soon.

The revised consultation gives a nod to the campaigners but has scant committed detail to what they’re are actually going to do where. (Compare it to their Hurstclough Lane consultation to see the difference).

We have to be realistic. Are they going to remove the mess of a base layer they’ve put in already? No, probably not. The plans don’t really give any indication of what they are going to do.

They do give them a massive amount of flexibility to say they’ve consulted and received positive responses and then do what they want. For example, you could respond that because the Roych is a guide for the work you’re happy with the plans. The plans also show that crushed aggregate and huge drainage channels (to where?) could be used, so be careful how you reply.  The moral of the story: when you respond, be explicitly clear on what elements of the ‘plan’ you support and which you don’t.

If they are committed to consulting properly and more importantly – they act on the responses they receive (which they have failed to do thus far) then DCC has an opportunity to get a huge number of users on side. Who knows, they could then go on to consulting with this group effectively in future. In partnership. It’s happened elsewhere – and not a million miles away from Matlock. Or Sheffield.

I’ll respond directly after talking to other campaigning groups – but in the meantime please respond yourself. Only by having a huge amount of responses can we get the message across.

 

 

 

 

Heads up – it’s October’s giveaway

thirty3-tracer-greenI first jumped my bike up at Grenoside. I say jumped; it was more hitting the jump, flying through the air then landing, cartwheeling and smacking into some very spiky branches at the side. Still, I got back up and had another go and landed it. Great feeling.

Getting your bike off the ground has become part of riding now – especially with the growing popularity of places like Antur Stiniog and races like Steel City DH.

But you need the right kit.

J E James Cycles is one of the largest independent cycle retailers in Europe, with three large stores in South Yorkshire and Derbyshire, online, shop rides, Facebook – the lot.

I’ve had two bikes from them in the past and over the years, gallons of GT85.

To show their support for KoftheP – and your aerial intentions – JE James have kindly offered a spanking THE Thirty3 Tracer Composite Full Face Helmet for our winner.

All you need to do is ride your bike and tweet an update to @KoftheP. There’s been nearly £1000 of freebies given away already this year – so even though you’re already a winner by tweeting in, you also stand the chance of winning a great prize too! and if that prize could save you ending up with a mug like mine, even better.

;o)

(Not me in the photo by the way)

September’s freebie winner

11924921_596864097118303_748443009404017133_nFor September we had a slightly different giveaway.

Billy and the lovely folks at Cafe Adventure in Hope, as well as being fantastic chefs (ex-Chatsworth House no less!), they’re also keen cyclists. So it’s great to get their support. Our winner will get a voucher for Cafe Adventure – enough to pay for cake and coffee for you and your friends after a ride. But who needs a voucher as an excuse? Get yourself along to Billy’s anyway. So who’s won?

Congratulations……

@debbie_pm

Enjoy your Cafe Adventure visit! And thanks for being a keeper of the peak.

Coming up; October’s freebie.