The Surrey Hills is a regional centre for Mountain Biking. The Greensand Hills of Leith Hill and the Hurtwood, in particular are seen as offering some of the best mountain bike terrain for extensive off-road cycling in the country. This is quickly becoming a sport that creates many conflicts with leisure users and has a high localised impact on many areas which do not have the infrastructure to cope with the use. The proximity of the Surrey Hills to London, with 1.5million people living within 6 miles of the AONB, means there is likely to be a growing demand for mountain biking on this area.
The Mountain Biking Working Group has been established to progress the proactive management of mountain biking in the Surrey Hills. It brings together a group of landowners, access managers, users and businesses.
The Working Group has developed the following position statement;
- Cycling is an activity in the Surrey Hills Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty carried out by a wide range of people that should be appropriately acknowledged.
- The use of the bike as a means of travelling across the Surrey Hills needs to be accepted, recognising the benefits to health and that responsible use causes negligible damage to the environment or conflict with other users.
- Opportunities to improve existing routes should be reviewed regularly with the aim of making routes more sustainable; providing a network of mountain bike trails across the Surrey Hills and drawing bikers away from bridleways that are suffering from overcrowding and conflict. Where possible, more facilities, including the development of single tracks and family routes, should be provided.
- Irresponsible behaviour should be discouraged e.g. inappropriate speed, lack of consideration for others and cycling techniques which cause erosion.
“Mountain biking is here to stay, it is a growing sport and we need to work together to manage it.”
David Mir, Chairman of the Mountain Biking Working Group.
The Surrey Hills Mountain Bike Working Group with the help of the International Mountain Biking Association (IMBA) and the Cyclists’ Touring Club (CTC) has drawn up a Mountain Bike Code of Conduct. The code is designed to encourage mountain bike riders to enjoy cycling safely in the countryside while looking after the fragile woodland environment and showing consideration for the walkers, children, horse-riders, wildlife and dogs who share the Surrey Hills with them.