Dec 30, 2012 at 10:39 am #1297495
@eugeneiusLocale: Nuevo Mexico
I realize this comes up every so often, and occasionally becomes a heated trigger point, but it still amazes me how fractured the outdoor "community" can be. Some hiker advocacy groups continue to polarize and perpetuate the anti-cyclist agenda, which doesn't seem to be the impression I get from those actually out hiking on the trails.
Is the hiking community at large, genuinely concerned about mountain bikers out on the trails to the point of motioning a ban on their accessibility?
"Social effects" and trail erosion again are the major points that the Forest Service touts as grounds for access reevaluation of the proposed trail section alternatives. What "social effects" are they speaking of?Dec 30, 2012 at 11:03 am #1939330
I have no problem with mb as long as I don't get run over from behind like what almost happened twice, once on the AT and once on the PCT. what do they have in common? No bikes allowed on either trail. I don't believe bikes take away from the hiking experience on trails like the TRT where they are allowed on most of the trail. But where they are prohibited they should stay off. I have become a bit of an A$& when I see them on hiking trails.Dec 30, 2012 at 11:06 am #1939332
The attention getting headline "A Rerouting of Continental Divide Trail in southern Colorado could Ban Bikes" is about a proposed 31.2 mile re-route. Just like parts of CT, bikes will still have the original/alternate routes to follow.
"Is the hiking community at large, genuinely concerned about mountain bikers out on the trails to the point of motioning a ban on their accessibility?
On the 12 mile Monarch Crest portion of the CDT it is often not possible to hike because of the constant flow of mountain bikes. The Colorado Trail Foundation took the Forest Service there on a weekend in a "set up" to demonstrate the overuse issue. I wouldn't be surprised if similar "set ups" have occurred elsewhere.
"What "social effects" are they speaking of?"
The Environmental Assessment contains only one reference to "social effects", on page 28:
"The social effects of mountain bike use on the trail include encounters by hikers and horseback riders with mountain biking parties. Mountain bikers travel much faster than hikers and or horses, and often “appear” quickly, causing hikers and horses to have to quickly yield. In downhill (from bikers perspective) situations this can even lead to safety issues. A biker coming around a corner at high speed can come upon a hiker before either party is aware of the other."Dec 30, 2012 at 11:12 am #1939335
Who usually has right of way, the biker or hiker?Dec 30, 2012 at 11:38 am #1939344
The way it is SUPPOSED to work is:
Bikes yield to hikers and stock
Hikers yield to stock
Stock yields to other stock, as conditions dictate.
That being said, courtesy states that when going downhill, one should yield to uphill traffic where possible. It's always harder to restart going up than going down, especially for a bike.
Of course, not everyone follows these yields. That's when you get collisions – or worse – leading to really bad attitudes towards all members of the offending persuasion.Dec 30, 2012 at 12:08 pm #1939350
@eugeneiusLocale: Nuevo Mexico
My problem is the leverage used against mountain bikers being insubstantial in most cases, the trail erosion argument gets thrown around repeatedly- there's very little quantitative research to defend the erosion position. There is a lot of misinformation held by USFS personel regarding how people interact out on the trail, especially in regard to mountain bikers.
Anecdotal accounts from a few vocal hikers in opposition of cyclists shouldn't drive change, which I believe is happening in some instances, this case in particular. I have no personal attachment to this particular CDT reroute, but I do see potential trickle down effects as a result of banning mountain bikers in non-wilderness areas, particularly desirable areas for user types of all varieties.
Public wilderness is a resource that everyone wants to use and ENJOY, the question is who and what determines the qualifications of one over another.Dec 30, 2012 at 12:29 pm #1939355
"The way it is SUPPOSED to work is:
Bikes yield to hikers and stock"
I've never had a bike yield to me while hiking, or even look like they were going to. Ever. If I didn't yield, there would be an 'incident.'Dec 30, 2012 at 12:32 pm #1939356
a sort of flip side here …
in our local mountains many trails are shared by bikers and hikers.
the bikers now want to claim a 2 mile stretch of trail for themselves and ban hikers simply because they have constructed a series of jumps along the trail and don't want hikers getting in the way.
Its on National Forest and the Forest Services is seriously considering it.
This would force a reroute of the annual San Diego 100, among other things.
Damn those mountain bike hooligans …Dec 30, 2012 at 12:33 pm #1939357
@rcaffinLocale: Wollemi & Kosciusko NPs, Europe
> Is the hiking community at large, genuinely concerned about mountain bikers out on the trails
In general, yes.
On hardened forestry roads with adequate width there is not much of a problem and walkers can coexist with careful bike riders fairly easily. Just ring that bell as you approach! On footpads running through fragile steep wilderness areas bikes cause a lot of damage by erosion and are often under far less control. That is simply not acceptable for the long-term preservation of the environment.
Yes, I have first-hand experience oof all of this. When walkers go up and down a steep track their feet pat the surface down and even stabilise the track. I have seen this. When bikes go up and down the same tracks there are deep grooves etched in the fragile soil, leading to significant erosion. Horses with their steel shoes are even worse. I have seen this, many times, many places.
CheersDec 30, 2012 at 12:54 pm #1939360
At least on the Colorado Trail (and where co-joined, on the CDT), mountain bikes and (I believe) stock are forbidden in federally-designated Wilderness areas. Special detour routes have been established for them to circumvent these fragile areas and rejoin the trail on the other side.
Mountain bikers and their clubs do a lot of maintenance annually on the CT. They use parts of the CT for some of their 100 mile races, and all of it for one end-to-end annual event.
Consequently, they have a vested interest in its condition. Like stockmen, bikers can not easily get over/around many downed trees, so they are out early clearing downfall. They are well aware of the channeling effect their tires can have on the trail. They are also a good source of rides to and from trailheads as well as on-trail help for injured hikers or to act as message-carriers. I've even had them offer me their extra water in long dry stretches.
I can count on one hand the number of CT bikers who didn't yield to me. One almost ran me down on a blind downhill curve approaching a trailhead. I must add that he stopped immediately and apologized quite sincerely, and warned me that there was another biker behind him. She wasn't moving quite as fast and was able to simply stop when she saw us. I let them go past and continued on my way.
YMMV on other trails, but at least on the CT, it's not a problem.Dec 30, 2012 at 1:13 pm #1939366
On sections of the Tahoe Rim Trail, there are even and odd days for hikers or bikers. Not legally enforced, just enables each
group to have days more compatible with their activity.Dec 30, 2012 at 1:21 pm #1939369
@cameronLocale: The WOODS
I've never had any bikers be intentionally rude to me on the trail. The Monarch Crest section of the CT did get annoying after a while. The real issue was just too many of them. However their are some definite upsides to the mountain biking craze.
1. Mountain Biking gets lots of people outside. If we want the public to support preserving wild places we need a significant part of the public to have a stake in them (more on this later).
2. Mountain bikers rarely do overnight trips. The vast majority of mountain bikers I see are just out for the day. Now they may be harder on the trails (at least in some areas) but since they are not camping they are avoiding some of the impact associated with heavy camping us.
3. Like UL backpacking mountain biking is a good way for busy people to get out and see a large chunk of wild country without going on a major expedition.
Now David C. has argued we should allow mountain biking in some wilderness. I don't know about that but I would argue we should find a way include mountain bikes in some wild areas. Since mountain bikers large percentage of the outdoor recreation crowd it will be a lot easier to get support for preservation if mountain biking is allowed in new wild areas we preserve.
One possible solution would be to simply build paralleled trails in heavily used area like the Monarch Crest.Dec 30, 2012 at 3:08 pm #1939389
"One possible solution would be to simply build paralleled trails in heavily used area like the Monarch Crest."
A nice idea, but in today's economy, not a viable option.
I would suggest that a more viable and efficient solution would be to plan one's hike (as much as possible) so as to avoid the popular mountain bike sections on the weekend, when most of the bikers are on the trail. Let's be somewhere else. Most of the bikers will be in their cubicles Monday through Friday, and the trails are mostly ours (except for retired or vacationing bikers).
Enjoy the trails.
Kiss a biker; it confuses the daylights out of them.Dec 30, 2012 at 3:48 pm #1939404
I'm not familiar with the CDT. Maybe the mountain-bike problem is serious there.
My general observation, though, having hiked various parts of the US, is that horse use is a much greater problem. I was raised with horses and support my many horseback riding friends. But the wilderness trails that experience even modest use by horses/stock seem to be dusty, torn up, eroded. Have you ever noticed that the trails where stock is banned or rare are DRAMATICALLY more pleasant to hike than the horse-trampled ones? On top of that is the issue of stock tearing up meadows and waterways, even in very fragile high-elevation areas. Why are they even allowed up there??
If we could redirect some hiker angst about mountain biking to address the much greater problems caused by stock-overuse, I would be greatly relieved.
– ElizabethDec 30, 2012 at 4:15 pm #1939409
@ouzelLocale: Pacific Northwest/Sierra
"Yes, I have first-hand experience oof all of this. When walkers go up and down a steep track their feet pat the surface down and even stabilise the track. I have seen this. When bikes go up and down the same tracks there are deep grooves etched in the fragile soil, leading to significant erosion. Horses with their steel shoes are even worse. I have seen this, many times, many places."
+1 to your entire post. It sums up the environmental problems quite nicely. Then there are the "social" problems attributable to the differences in speed of bikers and hikers, particularly where visibility where visibility is limited. The 2 simply cannot coexist on wilderness trails, period. I am all for allowing bikers full access on non pristine front country trails, but on wilderness trails, no way!Dec 30, 2012 at 4:20 pm #1939411
@ouzelLocale: Pacific Northwest/Sierra
"On top of that is the issue of stock tearing up meadows and waterways, even in very fragile high-elevation areas. Why are they even allowed up there??"
In a single dirty word: politics. The horsepackers have Congress in their hip pocket. I don't know how many rangers have told me not to even bother reporting egregious damage because they can't touch them.
"If we could redirect some hiker angst about mountain biking to address the much greater problems caused by stock-overuse, I would be greatly relieved."
A huge +1, but don't hold your breath. :(Dec 30, 2012 at 5:03 pm #1939424
@aerikssonLocale: Austin, TX
Having been a long time mountain biker, and continuing to this day albeit with a bit of a lapse in my mountain biking activity due to, for a time, living in utterly flat SE Texas, I can say I've seen both sides. It's quite interesting really, to consider now that I never thought I would be much of a hiker in the past but there's actually quite a lot to be said for it obviously. Anyhow, here's some thoughts in random order…
Mountain biking has long since been vilified on account of erosion but it really has a lot to do with a number of factors people often don't talk about, or even really know about so they're all just lumped together. For instance, singletrack ridden in much of the NE US is through dense forest land and many of those trails aren't suitable for human bipedal travel (they're too tight). I've watched trails over decades have zero maintenance with very very little noticeable erosion. On the other end of the spectrum, downhill mountain bikes whose use is limited to a very finite environment (a sizable hill/mountain, with road access to the top) can do a fair amount of damage on switchbacks as people slide around corners at a much greater speed with much more momentum.
However, eroded trails are also no fun to ride and downhillers are extremely likely (more so than your casual XC rider because they're they're the most vilified) to participate in controlled trail building, trail armoring (with rocks), and water-bar creation. And here's the thing, at the end of the day, a single dirt bike, or quad, going up or down any outdoor trail will instantly with one twist of the throttle do more damage than a season of heavy-use by mountain bikers. Moreover, often in the mountainous areas that draw the most mountain bikers, logging and uncontrolled residential development quickly destroys swaths of wild spaces. Strong lobbies back those types of activities however, and mountain biking is an easy scapegoat, especially with outdoor types being pitting against one another while corporations and land developers laugh while we're all in-fighting. Let's not even mention jeep trails and how doubletrack through sensitive national parks blows my mind while I can't take my dog for fear he might take a dump next to a cactus, fern, or kodiak bear that's never experienced dog poo. *rolleyes*
As far as hikers on dedicated trails, sadly I'm rather biased. If you're a hiker and you find a new trail cut by some mountain bikers with jumps all over it, have some common sense and at least avoid sauntering up the ridable line. The good news is that mountain bikers don't go more than several miles into the backcountry, prefer loops, and if you're really out in the middle of nowhere you're not going to find riders, much less jumps and things of that nature (tools are too heavy to carry!). All this said, apparently those wily canadians will lug chainsaws into the backcountry, so British Columbia is an exception to some of these insights….which is why I'm dying to ride British Columbia. But I digress.
Lastly, it's a pretty rare mountain biker that will be rude to a hiker, and a dumb one who will spook a horse. I've known and associated with probably over a hundred riders over the last two decades as a mountain biker and never heard one story of any encounters (from either side of the equation). Near-crashes happen but certainly an adult rider knows we're supposed to yield to everyone. Naturally, YMMV.Dec 30, 2012 at 9:21 pm #1939489
@balzaccomLocale: Wine Country
Good post, Alec. I am a road biker, not a MB, but I think you made your points well.
And there is another analogy here. IN winter, those on snowshoes are asked to keep their feet out of the cross-country ski tracks…and both groups do seem to be able to co-exist. Admittedly, there is a lot less dependence on a specific trail in winter travel…since you can always go where you want.
Horse packers have been granfathered in to many of these areas. Since MBs are new, they don't enjoy that kind of treatment. Who knows? In another generation MBs will be grandfathered in, and complaining about those knuckleheads on scooters, or seques…
We have trails in my part of the country that are shared with MBs, and I have found them quite polite on the trails. Of course, I usually meet them when they are going uphill…and aren't going any faster than I am! And there are trails where MBs are prohibited. Happily, I haven't had to deal with MBs on those trail. yet.Dec 31, 2012 at 9:54 am #1939589
"If you're a hiker and you find a new trail cut by some mountain bikers with jumps all over it, have some common sense and at least avoid sauntering up the ridable line."
And here is the problem around Tahoe. Illegal trails made by mountain bikers without the land managers okay and input. Proper
trail building takes thought, experience, education and input from all stakeholders.
The majority of bikers are a big part of trail maintenance tho, and this is important because the trails used by bikers can
turn to moon dust by the end of the season. Erosion control is critical to Tahoe's clarity.Dec 31, 2012 at 10:44 am #1939608
Yeah, and hikers have never made a new shortcut, or cut a switchback.Dec 31, 2012 at 12:13 pm #1939635
I think a good deal of the angst between hiker and biker factions could be eliminated by bikers simply following the "guidelines" of yielding to hikers. Problem is, I don't know how practical (or doable) bikes yielding to hikers is in the real world.
I hike and run on very heavily shared MTB trails and the majority of bikers I encounter will rarely yield to those on foot.
Now personally, I don't care in most cases, and think we can co-exist just fine if BOTH sides give a little courtesy based on the situation. Seeing someone coming through a section, if I can easily step aside and let them pass, why not? It doesn't make a lot of practical sense to require the faster moving person to yield to the slower one. I used to MTB a lot and always appreciated a hiker waving me on.
Problem is, did they do it out of politeness or out of fear of getting run over? There's a big difference, and I don't think it's always very obvious to a rider.
There are many times I have to yielded to bikes not at all because I'm being polite, but because with the speed, width of handlebars, and width of trail, it's not practical. Expecting a biker to yield on a steeper downhill section, especially if it's rocky, doesn't work; so again, it's not exactly because I'm being cool, it's because if I don't get out of the way, someone's going to get hit or fall. So basically, it's a biker forcing me off the trail. I think anyone forcing anyone off a trail is a bit rude (don't get me started on mule trails and horses).
And I must say, it can get pretty annoying to be left in a trail of dust because a string of bikes blows past me, especially when you step aside for the first rider and they simply yell "Three more behind me!" then are left standing in the bushes to get blown past by the rest.
Hikers and runners can typically pass each other, even on singletrack, without anyone feeling like they've got to get into the bushes or off the trail to give room.
The scenarios I mention are pretty regular where I live, I'm not going for argumentative hyperbole here. Ask anyone that rides in the Angeles National Forest about the popular El Prieto singletrack; a beautiful little front range section right above my house. I used to ride it a lot. But from a runner's or hiker's perspective it can be pretty scary because of fast downhill MTB traffic; they take the fire roads up and bomb the singletrack down. I certainly wouldn't want to hike it with my family, especially not on a Saturday or Sunday morning, no exaggeration. So is that fair? This sort of thing does get under people's skin.
I don't think it has to be an either/or situation, but I do think there are some serious etiquette issues, especially concerning speed and right of way. In the end, I don't know how this sort of stuff gets solved; it's partially like trying to legislate that people not be rude to each other.Dec 31, 2012 at 12:42 pm #1939652
": Flow trails cost triple what managers would need to construct a regular hiking trail. Some estimates pin the price at as much as $30,000 per mile. Not to mention that construction equipment used to build the trails stands out like a sore thumb in the natural areas where they're located. Still, most flow trails are financed with grants and recreation fees – so at least taxpayers aren’t footing the bill."
"The U.S. Forest Service is cracking down after bikers secretly cut up to 30 miles of trails in the Tahoe backcountry over the last decade.-Freeriders, who enjoy downhill runs with jumps, steep drops off rocks and higher speeds, don't find the 255-mile bike trail system in national forests around Tahoe exciting enough."
""The level of damage to resources has become out of control; we can't stand by and let it happen," said Garrett Villanueva, civil engineer and trail planner for the Forest Service. "It's gone over that threshold from not so bad to pretty serious impacts to water quality." "
Coming to your Wilderness Area soon?
I have moved from the Tahoe Area to NE Washington. I wish it were Mtn Bikes here. Around here the most aggressive and
beligerent users are the 4w ATV riders and snowmobiles. They are getting many previously roadless areas open to motor travel and cut the proposed protection zone for the last of the wildland cariboo down to 10% of originally proposed. The snowmobilers
are lobbying with some success to have the cariboo take off the endangered species list because there are only a handful left
in this country.Dec 31, 2012 at 5:28 pm #1939728
@danepackerLocale: Mojave Desert
Doug Ide is right, in MANY years of sharing trails with mountain bikers ONLY one yielded to me.
Bike shops need to hand every mountain bike buyer a set of Trail Etiquette rules.
And we hikers (through our organizations) need to be sure the shops have copies of these rules to hand out.Dec 31, 2012 at 6:30 pm #1939744
Here are two organizations that are working to promote better relationships between hikers ans mountain bikers: The first is the organization that runs high school mountain bike racing leagues all over the country. A central part of their mission is teaching kids to ride the trails with courtesy and respect for other trail users.
The second organization is actually building new multi-use trails and bike specific trails in the National Forests, as well as doing substantial trail maintenance and improvement work.
Hikers and mountain bike riders can coexist on the trails, in my opinion and experience, but it requires respect and courtesy from both sides and a willingness to educate rather than condemn. I also think that mountain bikers need to put a little more of their energy, time and money into new trails and less into fancy new bikes.Jan 1, 2013 at 7:24 am #1939817
@redmonkLocale: Greater California Ecosystem
The problem is apparently a lack of reading comprehension.
The signs are obvious, but bikes never yield.
The trails where bikes are not allowed are clearly marked, but still they ride.
I don't see this changing anytime soon.
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