I only (knowingly) ride bridleways, but it bugs me when I see lovely footpaths that are rarely used by walkers that could be re-classified, but nothing seems to be happening on that front
anybody know anything about this? How does it work?
Your local authority will have recently adopted a RoWIP - a Rights of Way Improvement Plan for the period 2007 to 2017. The improvements they are aiming for will have been based on their own ideas and suggestions from ramblers, equestrians and possibly bikers - if they happened to know somebody they could consult (but many didn't and I think IMBA-UK got off the ground a bit too late to play the role that it might have liked to play in this process). You should be able to access the RoWIP on your local authority's website. As part of the same initiative by the government, each local authority had to establish a Local Access Forum to develop the RoWIP and then to supervise its implementation. Many LAFs have no biker representation.
RpWIPS include some good stuff like the restoration of lost rights of way and the completion of 'circular routes' by incorporating stretches where there has never been a right of way, but it would be useful for there to be one to connect up RoWs that lead nowhere.
The downside to this is that it is difficult and costly to make changes in rights of way, the local authorities have no money and landowners have to be persuaded to agree to changes, they can't be forced to accept them. And the status of each trail is based on historical use rather than on the characteristics of the trail itself - so a ten foot wide path can be classified as a footpath if it has not historically been used by horses, and the landowner can insist that it remains so.
The other big downside is that no further additional rights of way can be introduced after 2017 except for uncompleted parts of thr RoWIP 2007-17, so if there is anything that should be in the RoWIP but isn't, it will be necessary to get the RoWIP altered well before 2017, like now preferably.
And the worst downside of all is that mountain bikers, unlike roadies IMPE, tend to be free spirits who can't be bothered with committees and administrative procedures, nor in getting together to form associations to further their common interests. Is anybody reading this thread a member of IMBA-UK for example?