28 July 2020

DIRTT project provides better insights in training needs & skill gaps in the MTB trail sector. 

The first stage of the DIRTT project (Developing Intereuropean Resources for Trail Building Training) included two surveys conducted by Edinburgh Napier University (ENU). The key findings of the MTB trail sector and consumer (rider) survey have recently been shared with the national and European reference groups. The reference groups consist of external stakeholders actively involved in the development and implementation of the project. 

The aim of the DIRTT project is to develop an educational framework and professional training programme for the mountain bike trail sector. To get better insights in the skill gaps and training needs of the sector, the DIRTT project consortium approached trail builders, tourism professionals, volunteer trail crews, land management agencies and training providers to take part in the trail sector survey. The main themes covered in the survey were planning, design, construction, maintenance, and management of trail infrastructure. In total, 121 survey respondents from 16 different European countries provided data suitable for inclusion in this report.

MTB Trail sector

The main findings of this report are that there is clear demand within the mountain bike trail sector for certified training, and that priority is based on the trail construction and maintenance sectors. These outcomes applied to both professionals and volunteers. Employers indicated that is relatively difficult to recruit skilled / competent employees. Key themes for training requirements included but were not limited to trail sustainability, safety, drainage, working with different soil types and documentation.

Rider survey

An additional survey was conducted by ENU to get better insights in the preferences, motivation and attitudes of the end consumer, the rider. In total, 4324 survey respondents from 28 different European countries provided data suitable for inclusion in this report. 

The main findings of this report are that most mountain bikers ride easier singletrack trails or more difficult singletrack trails, with connection to nature, descents, optional/multiple lines, and surface quality being ranked consistently high among all trail types. As it comes to motivation, exercise, connection to nature, play, challenge, and escape / solitude were the 5 most mentioned reasons to ride. The research also showed that the majority of the respondents (90%) would like to progress their riding ability but that a significant proportion of riders (37%) indicated having insufficient access to trails suitable to facilitate their skills progression. About 65% of the respondents indicated riding purpose-built trails was important to them. Forest roads are ridden almost exclusively to access other trails. 

Mountain bikers also feel connected to nature and would like to protect nature with many putting environmental concern above trail quality in most areas. However, this is not always reflected in the actions or expectations of respondents where some education may be required to align their intentions with their actions. Lastly, many riders recognise the importance of voluntary trail maintenance, and further that those who are not able or willing to volunteer would be willing to make a financial contribution to support for trail maintenance and construction.

Click here to find more results of both surveys. The full and more detailed report with annexes is expected by the end of August 2020