Ignoring the evidence

Environmental impacts of users on trails continues to be a hot topic in many regions. During the past five to seven years there has been a flurry of research papers on trail use and environmental impact for all user groups. The fact of the matter is any user on a trail has some impact on the environment. However, it is baffling that statements are still made that go against all credible research regarding the extent of the impact each user has.

In a recent BC Parks public comment period for the development of a popular park management plan, one user group took a public stand that equestrian use and mountain bicycling were equal in their environmental impact. Some comments included: "Another issue with mountain bikes is the erosion that they cause to trails. Hikers and horses also cause erosion to a lesser extent...You just have to look at photos and videos of mountain bikers to see the erosion and damage that they do to trails (if they stay on trails.)"

This statement flies in the face of a number of studies that show people on foot and people on bikes have the same impact on the environment, while equestrians are in a category of their own. In response, I submitted comments to BC Parks along with a research paper by Woody Keen describing the impacts we humans have on the environment.

Like me, many other mountain bikers were concerned with these statements (and the impact they could possibly have on BC Parks policy) and spoke up. Since then, the original article has been edited in attempt to appease the mountain bike community.

So what should you do if you are faced with similar archaic statements? Arm yourself with some of this research and use the opportunity to educate other users and land managers about mountain bikers. It's up to us to show that mountain bikers belong on the trails just as much as anyone else.

In: West
Tags: BC Parks