Mountain biking as...transportation?

Cycling is growing across the globe as fuel prices rise across North America. People are rediscovering bikes as transportation: It's fun, it's cheap and it helps the environment by taking cars off the congested roads. Every transportation agency is investing in cycling to help cater the rising demands for quality infrastructures. Bike paths, bike lanes, cycletracks, sharrows and bicycle boulevards are paving the ways for cyclists to get around. But what if we included natural surfaced trails into our transportation planning? After all, there are still lots of unpaved roads across Canada that are used by cars?

Many cities like Vancouver, Toronto, Winnipeg and Ottawa offer singletrack experience to their citizens and visitors but very few refer to them as transportation corridors. Looking back at the origins of trails, they were first used for getting from point A to point B, not for recreationnal purposes. Since the ride of the automobile, our trails and bikes have been relayed into the sports and leisure departments. How exciting would it be to ride in to work on your mountain bike after riding a prestine urban singletrack? A dream for many cycling entousiasts is to stay away from cars on a designated cycletrack... but how about staying away from the cars, but also secluded in nature within our urban parks systems? Our cities don't have much parks connecting all the way downtown, but it would be nice to at least being able to connect a few trails within our daily commute!

That's why that, from a planning's perspective, we should be able to offer different cycling experience. Everyone agrees that most road cyclists don't like bike paths as they are cluttered with slower and less experienced riders, who tend to get in the way of the "Lance Armstrong wannabes"... well for mountain bikers, bike paths have a bit too much asphalt! Singletrack could be the missing links between our on-road experience and nature. It would also help reduce heat islands cause by all the pavement. IMBA's Trail Solution has long been an expert in natural surfaced trails and could easily work with city administrators who would be willing to include singletrack in their offers to catter the needs of cyclists.

 

 

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