Peak District National Park rangers are saddling up their mountain bikes for regular two-wheeled weekend patrols. It's thought these are the first of their kind in a UK National Park.
The increasing popularity of mountain biking is bringing herds of lycra-clad cyclists to the Peak's trails in ever increasing numbers.
Bike-mounted rangers – easy to spot in their high-visibility jackets – are there to help with directions, cycling tips, first aid and even to give support with mechanical problems. If necessary they'll also mediate where conflicts arise between cyclists and others.
Pennine Way ranger Martyn Sharp, who championed the idea, explained:
'Mountain biking is one of the fastest growing sports and appeals to people of all ages. We've had some very positive responses to our cycling patrols from fellow mountain bikers and from walkers.'
'Mountain bikers can sometimes feel they aren't welcome because some say they cause erosion and come into conflict with other users. But we all have an impact on the countryside and we've got to respect each other's pastimes.'
'Mountain bikers are certainly welcome on our bridleways and byways. We'll be letting them know where they can and can't cycle, and telling them about plans for any new routes that will be opened up.'
Using mountain bikes allows the rangers to cover a much wider area in a shorter time. As the service develops, rangers will also be using social media such as Twitter and Facebook to give immediate advice and updates on the condition of routes and trails, say the National Park Authority.