Ribbesford Bike Park Survey Results – March 2021
Thank you to everyone that completed our online survey about Ribbesford Woods. The results of this survey have been useful for us to gain a better understanding of visitors using the woods. A report has been published on our website which you can access via the link below.
One of the key headlines from the survey was the number of riders (nearly 80% of respondents) that are accessing the woods by car and parking on verges, in particular at Heightington Road near to the entrance to the woods. This cannot continue. It is not only disruptive to local residents, but it is also causing a safety concern on the highway for other users and also emergency vehicle access.
Many respondents commented that we should just build a car park, with various locations being suggested. As a team we have reviewed lots of different options to try and find a solution but none have proved viable. Land ownership at Ribbesford Woods is complex, and the woods are also a Plantation on Ancient Woodland (PAWS), home to many types of wildlife including European endangered species, so this presents many restrictions on what we can and cannot do.
So what next?
From the survey responses it is clear to us how passionate riders are about keeping Ribbesford Bike Park open, with the trail variety and location being the most popular reasons, and we want to work with you to make this happen. We are committed to supporting mountain biking wherever we can.
The government’s “stay at home” rule will be lifted on 29 March, but Ribbesford Bike Park will not reopen at this time. Because of the increased usage over the last year (even with lockdown) the trails are desperately in need of maintenance. As the land manager we have a duty of care to make sure that trails are of a safe standard, and this is not the case at Ribbesford. The trails will be inspected by a contractor who will provide us with an independent report on the work required to bring them up to standard. Once we have this report we will work with contractors, and possibly volunteers, to make the trails better and safer.
Once this is complete, we will reopen the bike park for a trial period over the summer. During this time, we want to work with you to manage the problem of parking. We will:
- Promote alternative safe parking options within a rideable distance of the bike park
- Make clearer the route you can ride from the main Wyre Forest car park to the bike park
- Carry out regular parking monitoring at Heightington Road, and stickering cars to highlight the issues with verge parking and suggesting alternative locations for parking.
From you, we need cooperation:
- Park sensibly – preferably away from Heightington Road at one of the other suggested locations
- Be considerate – remember there are residents and other users in the woods, they don’t want to hear your bad language describing how rubbish your last run was!
- Take-home litter – it’s not hard. You carried it there full so carry it back to your car empty!!
A reduction in complaints about parking and anti-social behaviour in the area will help us keep the bike park open and keep you riding.
We’ll keep you posted with updates on the inspection and subsequent works on this Facebook page. Please, please do not attempt to ride the trails. This will not only be a safety hazard to you and for those carrying out the inspection and works but will also slow the process down and not do the future of the bike park any good.
Please respect the site and work with us to keep it open!
Download the survey results report here.
Q. Why didn’t you carry out this inspection during lockdown?
Inspections and maintenance take a lot of resource which we did not have during lockdown as our staff were busy elsewhere. We will be bringing in an external contractor to support us and so the timing of this work has been driven by their availability.
Q. Are you using trail safety as an excuse to keep the bike park closed?
It is clear from looking at and riding the trails that a lot of work is needed to repair the trails. The trails have received increasingly high numbers of riders over the last few years and any trail network requires regular maintenance to keep them in a good condition. Many riders in our survey highlighted the need for investment and maintenance of the trails.
Q. Why do you need to bring in a contractor, lots of people have offered to volunteer?
Our contractor will support us in carrying out a full inspection of the trails. Depending on the outcome of the inspection, we may look to recruit volunteers but this depends on the amount of work required to get the trail up to a standard that we are happy with. A professional contractor may be able to carry out this work more quickly. If the trial opening goes well, we will look into setting up a formal volunteer group to manage the trails going forward.
Q. When the trails reopen where else should we park?
The survey has demonstrated to us that there are other options for parking elsewhere and riding to Ribbesford Woods. We are investigating options to signpost riders from the main car park at Callow Hill in Wyre Forest but riders could also park in Bewdley or other villages. Parking on Heightington Road must stop and we are working with the local highways authority and police force to look at ways of preventing roadside parking in this area.
Q. Why can’t you build a car park for Ribbesford?
We currently do not have the money to be able to build a new car park and building a car park will likely attract more visitors leading to more of the same problems. Land ownership at Ribbesford Woods is complex, and there is a section of the forest track which is not owned by Forestry England and so we can’t give permission for people to drive along the track. The woods are also a designated PAWS woodland (Plantation on Ancient Woodland) and home to many types of wildlife including European protected species. As the land manager we must take the ecological importance of the woods into consideration.