How many Green Road users do you think you ride past in a year? Not a question that most trail riders would ask themselves. For Wiltshire TRF member James Higgs, it's one of the key reasons he rides, to enjoy the countryside alongside other users. Earlier this year he settled down with a very large cup of tea and began editing his trail riding film footage to find out...

TRF:

Hi James, thanks for taking time to chat. I imagine that between riding green roads, doing the day job and now spending hours editing these great films you’re pretty busy! The films you shared at the start of this year, just how long did they take?

James:

Not that long – they’re just compilations of short clips that I made during the previous year. I find that skipping through my video to make notes only takes an hour in the evening after a ride, and that doing this while the ride is still fresh in my mind makes it easier for me to remember all the interesting things that I’ve seen. Stitching them together for publication is a fairly simple exercise, best undertaken with the assistance of a pot of tea!

TRF:

Did you really sit there and go through all your hours of footage and pull out the walkers and horses? Why?

James: 

I did, having done so for the previous two years as well. I consider video to be an important asset in conserving the future of our hobby.

I make such films because the people I encounter whilst riding are overwhelmingly happy to share trails with motorcyclists and chat about the day - something that conflicts with the arguments made by the elected representatives of a handful of organisations whose positions have become reliant upon misrepresenting the relationships that different types of users enjoy with one another. This ‘user group’ division is readily repudiated by video evidence, which has successfully forced people to modify their arguments against motorcycling in order to justify their beliefs.

My experience is that an overwhelming majority of people who enjoy exploring the countryside do so in a sustainable and responsible way, regardless of how they choose to do so. After all, the rights we choose to responsibly exercise are common to us all, and many motorcyclists and their families also enjoy walking, cycling and horse riding.

Prying the fingers of people wishing to manipulate information to suit their own desires from positions of political influence remains a strategic objective for both motorcyclists and many other responsible people whose common rights of access are at risk of being infringed or curtailed.

TRF:

Do you think there is a problem with the way walkers, horse riders and motorcyclists perceive each other on the trails?

James: 

Yes, but I don’t blame the individual.

I think the worst thing to have ever happened to public access within the countryside has been the prescription of rights based upon our method of use rather than by our needs or desires.

This division encourages us to quarrel amongst ourselves instead of working together for a common good. All too frequently we allow ourselves to be ‘played off’ against one another by people unwilling to honour their own obligations and duties.

Most people set out with the intention of enjoying their day, not spoiling anybody else’s, and not intentionally leaving the countryside in a worse state for their use, regardless of how that might be.

TRF:

Are interactions like this a good opportunity for trail riders?

James: 

Yes – never underestimate the power of a simple ‘hello’, ‘thank you’ or a wave from the ‘left hand of the free world’. The proliferation of wearable video cameras has driven a coach and horses through the arguments of people whose positions are reliant upon faith and pathos instead of tangible evidence.

However, that’s not to say that the nonsense spouted against motorcyclists isn’t occasionally true. Video can be misused out of context in order to advance an unrelated argument, so it’s important that before publishing things online we ask ourselves what someone unfamiliar to our hobby might think about us should they stumble upon our videos.

We have no power to prevent video of unlawful and irresponsible use being published online but together we can demonstrate that such use is undertaken by a minority of people who are more accurately identified as ‘criminals’ rather than ‘motorcyclists’.

TRF:

Thanks James. Have a great year’s riding!


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