Mountain bike trail saboteurs on Otley Chevin risk causing life-changing injuries to young people

A cycle coach has warned that saboteurs deliberately leaving obstacles on mountain biking trails on Otley Chevin risks seriously injuring children.

Friday, 23rd April 2021, 4:45 pm

John Evans said he had noticed an increase in logs, rocks, branches - and even reports of wires - being strategically placed on trails in order to disrupt riders.

Otley Chevin is a popular spot for mountain bikers, with teenagers and children often creating them from scratch in areas where there aren't existing walking trails.

John posted on Facebook forum Otley - Our Town to warn parents of children who ride on the Chevin.

Sign up to our daily newsletter

The i newsletter cut through the noise

John Evans on his mountain bike.

He wrote: "It is not known if this is multiple saboteurs or the work of a lone vigilante.

"It is our hope that their ignorance of mountain biking makes them unaware of how quick riders can be travelling and how severe an injury they could cause.

"However, the size and placement of obstacles and well as partial demolition of existing trail features could cause a life changing injury."

Father-of-two John told the YEP he was moved to write the post not to start a debate about the legitimacy of the trails, but to protect the safety of young people simply wanting to have fun.

He said: "Kids have been playing in the woods, climbing on the rocks, making trails, making rope swings in trees, for decades.

"These are all the things that the people who like to call young kids 'snowflakes'- this is the thing they all lament about, saying 'nobody's out in the woods' - they are doing exactly that, and the response is that they are trying to injure them."

He added: "The placement of some of these obstacles is appears more malicious and more deliberate - blind corners in areas of high speed where riders are unsighted.

"Things that if they do collide with, are going to cause a big injury, potentially life-changing."

The size and density of the Chevin makes emergency service access difficult.

In his post, John added: "For the sake of the children of Otley and the surrounding area, I ask these saboteurs to stop now.

"There is no justification for deliberately trying to injure another human being in this manner, let alone a child.

"Put in another context if you didn’t like someone’s driving as they broke laws and the highway code, would you ever consider tampering with their car or putting obstacles in the road?

"Legally who would get in trouble? This is just the same."

John advised parents to warn their children of potential dangers, check trails on foot first before riding down at speed, remove any obstacles well away from trails, and to download the What Three Words app for their smartphones.

He continued in his post: "My experience of the teenagers and children building and riding these trails is a very positive one, I see considered and respectful alteration of the natural environment and the trails are litter free.

"Mountain biking is a highly immersive past time which requires expensive equipment and significant fitness and practice to ride trails to the standard that can be found on the Chevin.

"I’m guessing most of these kids can’t just go to a specific bike centre which are a significant drive away.

"I am a walker, runner, cyclist and climber of the Chevin. I want everyone to enjoy the Chevin and stay safe. I am also a cycle coach and father.

"This sabotage is putting children in danger and must stop."

Support the YEP and become a subscriber today. Enjoy unlimited access to local news and the latest on Leeds United. With a digital subscription, you see fewer ads, enjoy faster load times, and get access to exclusive newsletters and content. Click here to subscribe.