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Cyclists are only legally entitled to use 21 per cent of the rights of way network in Wales

British Cycling and Welsh Cycling have joined together to support countryside cycling in Wales.

Both organisations say that Wales can be a world-leading destination for cycling - and called for responsible cycling to be allowed on all paths and land with public access.

At present, cyclists are only legally entitled to use 21 per cent of the rights of way network in Wales.

British Cycling Campaigns manager, Martin Key, said: “At British Cycling we want as many people as possible across the UK to be able to access cycling in the countryside.

“Allowing responsible cycling on all paths and land with public access will be transformational, providing people with far greater opportunities to cycle on off-road routes, which is ideal for those who might be new to cycling and want to build their confidence on a bike away from traffic.

“Responsible access for people cycling would provide a significant boost to the Welsh economy and would help deliver cleaner, greener and healthier communities.”

Wales currently has approximately 33,000 kilometres of public paths but just 7,000 kilometres are currently accessible by bike. If the proposals were taken forward this could see 26,000 kilometres opened to the public and would remove uncertainty around access rights and potential sources of conflict between cyclists and other user groups.

Welsh Cycling chief executive officer, Anne Adams-King, said: “At Welsh Cycling, we live by our vision of inspiring Wales to cycle and fulfilling the potential of cycling in Wales.

“We strongly support the consultation, which will greatly increase access for people on bikes to paths and routes across Wales, therefore providing far more opportunities and routes for people to enjoy a ride.”

Earlier this year we reported how Cycling UK and OpenMTB also backed Welsh Government proposals to open up most footpaths in Wales to cycling and horse riding and are calling on the public to show their support via the Trails for Wales campaign.

In a joint response to the 2015 consultation ‘Improving opportunities to access the outdoors for responsible recreation’, Cycling UK and OpenMTB called for increased access and an outdoor access code to ensure responsible behaviour from all users.

The consultation received 5,796 responses, with over 4,000 backing the Trails for Wales campaign.

The Welsh Government’s more recent consultation, "Taking forward Wales’ sustainable management of natural resources”, now proposes legislative changes to allow cycling and horse riding on footpaths where suitable.

Duncan Dollimore, Cycling UK’s Head of Advocacy and Campaigns, said: “The Welsh Government is rightly looking for opportunities to manage its wide range of wonderful natural resources, recognising in their consultation the uncertainties that may come with Brexit. These proposals will help more people enjoy the outdoors, while also benefiting the rural economy – their forward thinking is on the way to making history.”

After an unpromising start, having to be bribed by her parents to learn to ride without stabilisers, Sarah became rather keener on cycling in her university years, and was eventually persuaded to upgrade to proper road cycling by the prospect of a shiny red Italian bike, which she promptly destroyed by trapping a pair of knickers in the rear derailleur. Sarah writes about about cycling every weekend on road.cc.