As you’ll know the problems locally with illegal use of off-road motorbikes have been widespread, and part of the problem is the lack of provision locally and services for young people. So I'm really keen to work with local people to increase provision and awareness for legal off-road riders.
As part of this work I was pleased to be able to meet with legal trail riders, including Andrew Richardson from the Association of Peak Trail Riders and our Cabinet Member for Transport, Cllr Jack Scott, to discuss some of the problems facing the activity and what action we can take to improve access to off-road bike trails. The Council is now looking at options for new sites to provide legal trails.
There have been problems for riders in the Peaks with widespread closure of bike-friendly trails, which are now only 1.7% of Peak District trails. We had discussions about the possibility of opening new tracks locally, and how that change would be funded. I have written to DEFRA asking about the number of trails, and the impact of these losses on the rural economy, which I'll also be raising with them in Parliament.
I’ve also written to the Peak District National Park Authority about the loss of trails, as well as about the problem of dangerous objects being seemingly deliberately left on tracks, and the importance of clear signage to make users aware of where motorbikes might be present.
Specifically on illegal bike use, we discussed potential for using the Proceeds of Crime Act to finance new trail provision, giving legal riders more convenient options. I’ve written to Police and Crime Commissioner Alan Billings to suggest further actions that could be taken, including the use of SmartWater to identify motorbikes and deter theft, as is currently done for free with bicycles.