Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Other trail users - mountain bikers

The International Mountain Biking Association is trying to open more trails in national parks to mountain biking (http://www.imba.com/news/action_alerts/12_08/12_18_nps.html). There has been some tension between hiking proponents and mountain biking proponents since mountain biking started as anyone who has read USENET's rec.backcountry in recent years is very aware. I don't fully understand the reasons for the conflict although I have had some less than pleasant encounters with mountain bikers. In the park I go to most, Yellowstone, only a few trails are open to biking and these are old roads still occasionally used for service. I would not want bikes on most of the backcountry trails. On the other hand, on my trips to Utah parks and monuments, I've encountered bikers on several trails and had no issues with them. This may be due to the differences in climate and ecology or just what I'm accustomed to seeing.

The issues I have had with mountain bikers have been minor and fairly infrequent. Once I met a couple of bikers on a trail clearly marked as closed to bikers (not in a park). They also left some obvious signs of trail damage - probably part of the reason this trail was closed to biking (and stock use). The other issue is having to quickly step off the trail due to bikers descending without full control. And, as mentioned, biking may cause more trail damage than hikers. Still, excessive hiking also causes trail damage and I've complained in several posts about less than courteous hikers. Also in my recent encounters with bikers they have been almost excessively polite and careful to yield the trail. It may be that the mountain biking community is becoming more sensitized to issues of conflict and willing to police themselves.

I don't want to exclude mountain bikers from all trails, I think expanding the community of trail and other backcountry recreation is a positive thing even though I complain about overcrowded trails. There are trails I don't think bikers should use for various reasons. I hope the biking community also supports trail building and maintenance the way I know the hiking community does.

2 Comments:

At 25/12/08 09:37, Anonymous Joey Pauley said...

Thanks for an inciteful post.

I am a mountain biker, hiker, and all around outdoors enthusiast.

Bikes as well as stock should be restricted from certain trails to enhance the experience for everyone. In this regard I have had a very favorable experience in Bend OR's trail management in the Phil's trail area.

No matter how you experience the outdoors people should volunteer to maintain the trails. I would encourage mountain bikers to volunteer with advocacy groups including http://evergreenmtb.org/recreation/calendar.php?view=all&event_type=W

 
At 27/12/08 22:51, Blogger Mossymom said...

I've only encountered bike on the trail once and the bikers were very polite. I wish I could say the same about most of the encounters I have had with horse riders.

 

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