I became involved in the project when I was invited to attend a police stakeholder meeting to address the issue of illegal riding in the forest. I thought it was going to be a handful of people but when I turned up there was a whole conference room of people including police, Forestry Commission, walkers, residents, businesses, tourism workers, Natural England, national parks, wildlife trust and more. I was the only person representing trail riders.
The meeting was an opportunity for everyone to share their experiences and concerns, but importantly, for the police to outline the extent of their powers to tackle the issue and highlight the fact that this is a community issue and that all stakeholders can contribute by working together.
Signage had been a common point raised in the meeting and Forestry Commission put together a plan to improve the way byways are marked. On behalf of Northumbria TRF I worked with Alex MacLean at the FC to develop a signage solution that made it clear where you could and couldn’t access by vehicle, but keeping the tone non-alarmist. The end result feels more like signage you might find at a mountain bike park with routes graded in different colours depending on their access rights. It’s helpful, clear, and most importantly doesn’t demonise any particular group. GLASS and TRF are highlighted as organisations to contact to find out more about accessing green roads in the area.
and Northumbria TRF
contributed funds towards the signage project.