Huge jump in illegal bike trails on farms and rural estates

The campaign aims to tackle the growing problem of illegal mountain bike trails.

The growing popularity of mountain biking in Scotland has led to a huge increase in the number of illegal bike trails being constructed on farms and rural estates.

Scottish Land and Estates (SLE) is now warning that farmers and landowners face the risk of being held liable should an accident occur on unauthorised bike trails on their land.

The landowners’ body said as well as being potentially dangerous for bike riders, the trails presented a liability for businesses and landowners who are duty-bound to risk assess the trail and develop a management strategy.

In a bid to tackle the problem, SLE is warning of the safety risks posed by poorly constructed self-built mountain bike trails through its Care for the Countryside initiative.

“Mountain biking’s popularity brings with it associated issues for farms and estates,” said SLE policy officer Karen Ramoo.

“A landowner could be liable if a trail was discovered and they didn’t apply an appropriate management to the trail, leading to a rider or other access taker sustaining an injury. It can also present a real problem in terms of caring for trees, land and biodiversity. We want to encourage people to enjoy mountain biking safely but also for access takers to communicate with farms and estates if they see issues when they are enjoying our countryside.”

Developing Mountain Biking in Scotland’s project manager, Graeme McLean, said he shared SLE’s concerns.

He said: “Constructing unauthorised trails, obstacles and jumps on someone else’s land is illegal and brings dangers to riders, others who access the land and could potentially damage trees, flora, fauna and disturb wildlife.”