Forestry Commission urges mountain bikers not to ignore warning signs

Forestry Commission Wales is today warning mountain biker that they are risking serious injury by ignoring signs urging them to stay clear of trail sections while forestry operations are taking place.

Here’s the official press release from the FC:

Some bikers are even removing tape and barriers from trails leading into areas where forestry machines are working and trees are being felled – endangering not only themselves but others following behind them who may be unaware of the danger.

An increasing number of incidents involving mountain bikers entering prohibited harvesting areas in Welsh Government woodlands in the Afan Valley have been recorded over the past few months.

The area is home to some of Wales’s most popular trails – including the Whites Level, Wall and Skyline – and Forestry Commission Wales, which manages the woodlands, fears that it could be only a matter of time before someone is seriously hurt.

Wales Harvesting Team Leader Darroch Lyon said, “I am increasingly concerned for mountain bikers’ safety if this casual disregard for trail diversions and closures by a selfish and irresponsible minority continues.”

The hundreds of miles of mountain bike trails designed and built in Wales’s woodlands are among the best in the world and attract thousands of people, who are the lifeblood for many rural economies.

But this environment is also a working forest, where a multi-million pound industry exists side by side with outstanding recreation facilities.

In order to manage these different interests so that everyone can use the forests safely, FC Wales sometimes has to exclude the public from active operational areas.

When this happens, diversions are put in place so that mountain bikers can still enjoy the forest despite the forestry operations.

FC Wales Mountain Bike Ranger Howard Sims said, “I invest a significant amount of time and effort in planning, establishing and checking and maintaining diversions and closures.

“All the time and resources I spend replacing damaged signs, barriers and tape is time I am not spending on maintaining the open sections of trails so that everybody can enjoy them.”

The forestry industry is a major source of employment in South Wales and these foolhardy actions cause unnecessary and costly delays, which is also becoming a major problem for these firms.

FC Wales Mountain Bike Manager David M Williams said, “If this selfish minority of mountain bikers continue with their irresponsible behaviour, it will result in the closure of entire trails for the duration of the necessary works.

“This is not something we would enter into lightly but if this wilful disregard for their own safety and the safety of others continues, we will have no other option.”

For the latest updates on temporary trail closures, take a look at this webpage www.forestry.gov.uk/recreation

  1. P Nicholson

    I came across some signs in a forestry the other weekend, that stated that work was in progress and to wait while transport came to take me through the working area.
    Two people, who had been there for 15 mins, were stood there waiting for the transport, . There was the sound of a chainsaw in the distance. It was a Sunday and no workers were visible.
    We moved around the corner into the working area and it was deserted and locked up, so we continued on our way.
    The FC should ensure that these signs are removed / covered when work isn’t in progress.

  2. amt27

    if the warning signs from previous felling operations were removed this might give the signs more impact,

    sadly in the FoD there are signs from operations several years ago still left on trees etc, nobody knows if felling is going on or not, plus plenty of contractors don’t even bother with signs,

  3. Tupnatronic

    Couldn’t agree more with previous posts. I work in the industry of managing projects that impact upon public use of rights of way etc. All too often the signage of operations is what lets the thing down. If no work is going on and there is no danger then remove the signs. Simply leaving signs up over a weekend because its easier than taking them down isn’t good enough. If the FC managed projects properly they would ensure that if an area can be ridden safely then it is open. MTBers do not disregard signs as standard practice but all too often we are excluded from areas of forest where nothing is happening. Remember the boy who cried wolf?

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