Five Ways Mountain Biking Benefits Rural Communities
The development of mountain bike facilities can bring a wide range of benefits to rural communities. We’ve put together this article to highlight five of the main benefits that developing mountain bike facilities can bring to a local community.
1. Promotes a Healthy Lifestyle
Cycling is an excellent way of getting exercise and mountain biking can be a really attractive sport for people from all walks of life. It’s great fun for people of all ages and abilities, and the variety of trails on offer in most regions across the UK means that it’s becoming a very accessible sport.
Mountain biking takes you out into the countryside where you can get a breath of fresh air. Its culture is ingrained with rich heritage stemming from a mixture of mountain sports and motocross, a culture that promotes getting out into the countryside and enjoying yourself.
2. Increased Tourism
One great thing about mountain biking is that you can ride your mountain bike almost anywhere… Pick up a map; plan a route; get out there and enjoy. However the majority of mountain bikers ride their bikes at designated trail centres or bike parks. This is completely understandable, as trails in these venues are purpose built, well maintained, well way marked, and nearby to all the facilities that mountain bikers need.
These mountain bike specific facilities will not only attract riders from the locality but will also attract riders nationwide and even globally. Most mountain bikers are prepared to travel to venues a few hours away for a day trip, and will happily make an overnight stay for locations that are further away. The reputation of each trail venue has a big influence on its popularity to tourists making an overnight stay. So by developing first class mountain bike trails, you are able to provide a massive boost to the number of people visiting an area for tourism purposes, and hence the number of people using the local tourism infrastructure.
3. Economic Benefits
Increased tourism inevitably results in benefits to the local economy.
Services for which mountain bikers readily pay for include:
- Local food shops
- Local bike shops
- Bike hire
- Cafes, restaurants and pubs
- Other outdoor and indoor activities
Enthusiast mountain bikers who regularly travel to various riding destinations tend to be reasonably affluent and hence bring economic value to any area they visit. Differences in the focus of each trail centre will likely generate economic benefits in slightly different sectors – venues targeting diehard mountain bike enthusiast may experience a large economic benefit through local bike shops whereas a venue targeting cycling families might well see more of the economic benefits in accommodation or even other family orientated activities nearby.
4. Benefits to the Local Environment
Getting people to access the countryside more often not only improves their health and wellbeing, but it encourages them to value their local environment. This in turn raises people’s awareness of threats to our countryside and because they value it they inevitably want to protect it.
Money talks, even in environmental protection and conservation contexts. The more economic value the countryside has, the more likely it is to be conserved. The number of people that visit a countryside attraction often has a direct correlation to its economic value. Therefore the more people who visit a facility, the more money that is likely to be available for conservation and environmental improvement.
5. Diversification of Land Use
Many rural businesses are susceptible to a range of threats that are out of their control, for example environmental variations, or crop and livestock diseases. One way of protecting a rural business from such eventualities is to diversify the business. Mountain biking can be a great way for a rural business or organisation to diversify. Introducing mountain biking will increase their resilience to such threats and can also provide a sustainable stream of income into businesses with long-term returns, such as forestry.
A great example of a business that we helped to diversify is Glencullen Adventure Park, who wanted to add value to their property that was formerly a golf course.
There is a multitude of other ways that mountain bike trails can benefit a community, if you’d like to know more then why get in touch.