We had three versions of the survey, depending on whether the respondent was a supporter, had allowed their subscription to lapse, or had never been a TVTA supporter. By "Supporter", we mean someone who has volunteered or subscribed in the last 12 months.
- 77 Supporters - anyone who has volunteered or subscribed in the last 12 months.
- 70 Non Supporters - Never volunteered or subscribed.
- 6 Lapsed Supporters- volunteered or subscribed in the past, but not within the last 12 months.
Due to the likelihood that only people with a real interest in the work of the TVTA and the trail building community would respond, self-selection as well as low statistical significance mean that the survey results are more of an interesting guide than anything we should be using to dictate policy.
Despite this, there are some points raised that we as a volunteer organisation can find value in and messages we should share with supporters and trail users.
- Parking at Caberston - We'd love to have a car park, toilets, showers and a bike wash.
- Work on trails beyond the adopted Caberston trails - Our current goal is to expand our remit to adopt all the Golfie trails, and in the longer term to work with the trail builders in other forests in the Tweed Valley.
- We're a voluntary organisation - we would love to employ full time trail builders, marketeers and advocates for mountain biking.
The survey highlighted many more topics that we will expand on in the coming weeks and months.
Question: 1. Which of these best describes how often do you ride unofficial trails in the Tweed Valley, on average? By "Unofficial", we mean "Wild" trails - the type found at Caberston.
- Supporter riding frequency is on a sliding scale, starting with more than once a week.
- Three wonderful people identified as supporters but said they never ride the "Wild" Trails.
Question: 2. How much do you think is a fair price to pay per month as a contribution to the upkeep and advocacy of the trails network?
- Standard adult subscription to the TVTA is currently £36 per year, or £3 per month.
- A TVTA subscription must be one of the last remaining leisure related costs that has not been affected by the Cost Of Living Crisis.
- If subscribers think the value in what we do is greater than the £3 per month cost, why doesn't every rider who frequents Caberston subscribe? Is it about messaging and ease of donations?
Question: 3. Have you ever entered a race, or do you plan to enter a race?
A significant majority of the survey respondents identified as racers, reflecting the point made in the introduction that the respondents are more likely to be among the more enthusiastic mountain bikers.
Question: 4. Race Organisers using the Tweed Valley trails are supposed to do repairs to the trails and make contributions to the TVTA after races. On a scale of 1-10, with 10 being most important, how important is that to you?
While the survey was live, two things happened that have a bearing on how we make sure event organisers repair damage to tracks after races.
- We published our Events Policy, which states our position on TVTA Adopted Tracks being used for events.
- We announced plans to form a "Trail Committee", who will have a voice in decisions made about which TVTA Adopted tracks can be used for events.
Question: 5. Would you shop more at a local or online business if you knew they supported the TVTA?
We asked this question as we have discussed creating a supporter scheme for businesses who benefit from the work done by the TVTA.
There are already as number of businesses in Innerleithen and beyond who donate or volunteer, and we would like to create a system where those businesses are recognised, and pther businesses are encouraged to become involved.
Question: 6. Have you ever volunteered for a TVTA dig?
"Supporters" were a mix of volunteers and people who have donated.
Question: 7. If you answered "no", help us understand why not - please tick all that apply.
"Others" mainly boiled down to time and distance.
22 respondents identified as riding at least once a month, but never having the time to volunteer for a dig.
Dig times in the last year have tended to be Weekend Mornings, and we ran Thursday night sessions last summer. We've discussed adding new time slots to try and make digs more accessible.
We hoped the next two questions would enlighten us as to what times we should expect a plentiful supply of volunteers!
Question: 8. Do you plan to volunteer for digs in future?
Question: 9. We hope to be able to run volunteer digs in more time slots in future. Which times do you think you would be most likely to be available to help? Tick all that apply.
At the end of the survey, we arranged a few digs on weekend afternoons and Thursday evenings. We had a poor attendance, one dig had only two volunteers, another had two volunteers who didn't attend, and another was cancelled as we had no volunteers sign up at all.
Question: 10. How would you like to hear about future digs? Tick all that apply.
We use Eventbrite to book our dig days, which automatically sends an email to any Eventbrite subscribers who follow the TVTA. In addition, we email our own subscribers, as well as post on Facebook and Instagram.
The most reliable and effective way for us to communicate with volunteers is through our own email subscriber database. We are at the mercy of the social media algorithms, without sponsoring posts, our message often gets buried, if the follower sees the message at all.
Once we have more board members, we plan to make better use of Google Analytics to identify where our sign ups and donations come from.
Question: 11. Would you be interested in a TVTA email newsletter that kept you informed of upcoming digs and included some insight into the behind-the-scenes work of the TVTA? Tick all that apply.
We (TVTA Board) have discussed whether there was interest in a monthly email newsletter, with updates on what we've been doing and where we are with future plans. We may decide to do this for subscribers and volunteers only.
Question: 12. Aside from organising digs, Trail Advocacy (working with FLS and government to strengthen the trail network), training trail builders, what would you like to see the TVTA do?
Responses to this question largely came under a handful of topics. The main takeaway for us as an organisation is that we need to communicate what we're doing and what we're allowed to do. Ultimately, other than one part-time employee, the TVTA is currently a very small group of volunteers giving up their own time, with more volunteers, we could tackle each of these topics.
Maintenance: The main reason we exist is to maintain and improve the existing trail network. It's not always possible to retain the original line, where we re-route trails, we close off the original line for two reasons, firstly to avoid having multiple lines on the same part of the hill (think lower slopes at Inners) and also to avoid collisions. The "Build Easier Trails"/"Build Harder Trails" split was exactly 50/50.
Marketing: Stands at race events and promoting upcoming digs were both mentioned. On a more positive note, TVTA T-shirts and race shirts will be available to buy at dig days very soon!
Remit: Our agreement with FLS allows us to work on adopted trails at Caberston Forest only. We can't arrange work on non-adopted trails at Caberston or in any of the other forests. After Storm Arwen and in the run-up to the UCI world Championships we've had a bit more scope for working in other areas, but only temporarily. Our goal is to have wider stewardship of the trails in the Tweed Valley.
Signage: We'd love to have a sign with a QR code to allow riders to donate at the bottom of every trail. We've discussed this with the FLS, but so far we've been unsuccessful, and we have to rely on riders paying their dues without prompting.
Supporters Scheme: We're working towards a scheme where local businesses can contribute to the TVTA either financially or by volunteering their time on dig days.