Say goodbye to the cattle truck
Health and safety advice has forced Forestry Commission Scotland to bring in new safety regulations for vehicle uplift services on downhill courses, and these have meant that uplifts for recreational downhilling have been suspended until the operators can comply. And there’s been a bit of a scramble to get something sorted out for the first SDA race at Innerleithen this weekend.
It’s all come about from a country-wide review looking at safety for all visitors to FC forests. That’s not just mountain bikers, but trail and rider safety is a big part of it. Advice received by Foresty Commission Scotland has required it to take immediate action to change the way uplifts are carried out. The traditional uplift is either a truck or a tractor and trailer into which all the riders and bikes get. While there’s never been a serious accident doing this, it’s never looked particularly safe.
The new regulations in the short term require riders and bikes to travel in separate vehicles; all vehicles to have closed sides, a roof and temporary seating; helmets to be worn; rigorous marshalling and communication and a speed limit. That’s for race organisers – commercial operators running uplifts on non-race days will additionally have to provide vehicles with seatbelts driven by suitably qualified drivers. That almost certainly means minibus/trailer or bus/van combinations. Until the operators can satisfy those requirements, all recreational uplift services are suspended.
Karl Bartlett, FCS’s cycling development officer said:
“There was never going to be a good time to announce this but we consider that we have taken immediate steps to ensure that the events can proceed and allow organisers the time necessary to make further improvements. We have advised the sport’s governing bodies of the need for the changes and they recognise the importance of safety. Discussions are continuing with the SDA and BC over implementation of the measures to ensure that safety of competitors and those who mountain bike as a leisure pursuit is treated with the utmost importance… our safety experts have been discussing with downhillers their views on uplifts and it appears that many would welcome a move to a safer mode of transport.”
We can’t imagine that recreational uplifts will be suspended for long – they’re a big attraction and bring a lot of riders to the FC trails that offer them. We’ll keep you posted…