Countryside plagued by horses not bikers

You published a letter from Mrs Stubbs, of Peak Horse Power (Times Talk, January 6) detailing how “off-road” motorcyclists are both a small minority and a growing menace.

I think it is important to correct several statements that she raises as “facts”.

She is clearly not complaining about “off-roaders” but legitimate use of roads with long-standing vehicular rights. “Claiming” a track does not alter its vehicular status, it merely formalises pre-existing rights; many of the tracks were key transport routes before a new or widened road gained popularity.

Secondly, she quotes figures very casually. MCIA data for 2011 shows that fewer than five per cent of new motorcycle registrations are for trail/enduro motorbikes, in contrast to the 15 per cent quoted by Mrs Stubbs.

On a subjective level, the letter was contradictory. the countryside is “plagued” by motorbikes and yet riders are a “tiny minority”. Surely both cannot be true.

Mrs Stubbs estimates there are just under 200,000 off-road motorbikes in the UK. This is around one sixth of the number of horses believed to be in the UK, although this is a crude figure as horses, unlike motorbikes, do not have to be registered. On that basis one could say the countryside is plagued with horses.

Mrs Stubbs’ use of emotive language, backed by careless statistics, does nothing to help users of rights of way in England and Wales.

Adrian Jowett

Trail Riders Fellowship

Peak District group