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  1. #1
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    Would you class mountain bikes low or high impact for the forest/bush environment?

    I read a lot of talk that mountain biking is high impact for the forest and bush and i dont agree.
    I can see and agree that dirt bikes, quad bikes and 4wd are high impact, but there is no way in my opinion that standard Mountain bikes being ridden along trails is high impact to the environmental side of things.
    I agree that unthoughtful trail building and guys going in ripping up the forest to make a trail is not good and could be classed as high impact, but standard bike tracks cause not alot of damage imo.

    When we have loggers logging virgin forests, companies polluting rivers that run through them, mining, a couple of bike tracks that enable people to get in to the forest and love and appreciate it its hardly high impact, i think horses have a higher impact than MTB riding.

    Id be interested to hear your thoughts to see if you think mountain bikes have a high or minimum impact to your local environment? and whether you think authorities are fair or to harsh in limiting the use of bikes in your local area, in Sydney mountain biking is not allowed in many of our national parks which i dont agree with.

    So fellow bikers, high impact, medium, low, no impact? interested to hear your thoughts?

    Cheers from Oz
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  2. #2
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    In the USA, mountain biking is also not allowed in most of the Natl Parks.

    Anything with a motor is going to have more impact than something without. Bike wheels and horse shoes will have more impact than human feet.

    The key is having organizations that periodically go through and repair/maintain the trail systems. Therefore, I believe that bicycle wheels are mostly low impact on the trails systems comparatively.

  3. #3
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    Depends on the trail. We have trails here that shut down when a single raindrop falls from the sky, and others that remain open thru out the year, rain or shine.

    Reasons for this are completely legitimate.

  4. #4
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    Quote Originally Posted by Dion View Post
    Depends on the trail. We have trails here that shut down when a single raindrop falls from the sky, and others that remain open thru out the year, rain or shine.

    Reasons for this are completely legitimate.
    I agree. There are also the a$$hats that leave trash in the woods, scare off any wildlife they encounter, and will tear the hell out of a trail in muddy conditions - all with no regard that they are having an impact on the environment. Of course, luckily, that is most likely a very small fraction of our kind.

    One thing a lot of people do not realize is our sport is an appreciation of the environment (man vs nature). Unfortunately, a few bad apples can really ruin it for everyone.

  5. #5
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    This is a pretty subjective question and your answer depends on who is answering the question. Ask a hiker or bird watcher and I bet they say 'Yes, mountain bikes are hard on the environment.' Ask a moto, and they will say 'no.' Everything we do has some sort of impact, just depends on what you find to be an acceptable level.

    Also depends on the amount of traffic. Here is an example. I used to climb at this local area in college. Three or four days a week. Over a three year period, it exploded as a place to mountain bike. People had riden there for years, but for some reason it was all of a sudden the 'hip' place to ride. Within a year, the place was trashed! Narrow single track evolved into wide rutted trails all everywhere. The point is, the place was fine for a long time, but there was a breaking point as to how much traffic it could heal from.

  6. #6
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    some really interesting thought here guys, and yes my question was pretty general, but you guys have pointed out a few things that i didnt factor in to the thread, cheers n keep the great responses coming
    Dont ever let the truth get in the way of a funny story....

  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by Tone's L'axeman View Post
    I read a lot of talk that mountain biking is high impact for the forest and bush and i dont agree.
    I can see and agree that dirt bikes, quad bikes and 4wd are high impact, but there is no way in my opinion that standard Mountain bikes being ridden along trails is high impact to the environmental side of things.
    I agree that unthoughtful trail building and guys going in ripping up the forest to make a trail is not good and could be classed as high impact, but standard bike tracks cause not alot of damage imo.

    When we have loggers logging virgin forests, companies polluting rivers that run through them, mining, a couple of bike tracks that enable people to get in to the forest and love and appreciate it its hardly high impact, i think horses have a higher impact than MTB riding.

    Id be interested to hear your thoughts to see if you think mountain bikes have a high or minimum impact to your local environment? and whether you think authorities are fair or to harsh in limiting the use of bikes in your local area, in Sydney mountain biking is not allowed in many of our national parks which i dont agree with.

    So fellow bikers, high impact, medium, low, no impact? interested to hear your thoughts?

    Cheers from Oz
    Low impact, more than skiing less than hiking.....of course something low impact done be a lot more people increases the impact....

    Cows are really bad, then ATV's, dirt bikes, then ridden horses, than hikers, than bikers.

    I guess big four wheelers in the mud are the worst.

  8. #8
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    Low - As other have said it depends on the trail and its erosion characteristics. But overall I think biking has a low impact overall.

    This IMO is the most damaging thing people do on the trails where I ride.

    IF YOUR NOT GOING TO PUT IT IN THE TRASH, DON'T BAG THE ****!
    Attached Thumbnails Attached Thumbnails Would you class mountain bikes low or high impact for the forest/bush environment?-number2.jpg  


  9. #9
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    I would consider it low impact. In a natural forest game trails run all over the place. You don't hear the environmentalists complaining that the deer are mucking up their forest. Trash is a problem, but it can be picked up. Trails widening into rutted or sandy areas as Shmack mentioned is also an issue, but it can be mitigated and let's be honest here - if you left it alone for a decade, plants would be growing all over it again. It's not permanent damage.

    jeffscott, I think you meant more than hiking, less than skiing?

  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by elcaro1101 View Post
    Low - As other have said it depends on the trail and its erosion characteristics. But overall I think biking has a low impact overall.

    This IMO is the most damaging thing people do on the trails where I ride.

    IF YOUR NOT GOING TO PUT IT IN THE TRASH, DON'T BAG THE ****!
    LOL, Yep its quite unbelievable that people put an organic thing like dog **** in a bag then discard the plastic bag in the bush, the mind boggles
    Dont ever let the truth get in the way of a funny story....

  11. #11
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    I would consider it low impact, but I agree with others here that it depends on the trail's traffic. The main problem in my neck of the woods comes from hikers - they DON'T give a d@mn about the environment at all - well, at least most of them don't. They litter all over the place despite the numerous trash cans placed throughout the park. And hikers are considered "low impact"! Makes no sense.

    Quote Originally Posted by tangaroo View Post
    ...One thing a lot of people do not realize is our sport is an appreciation of the environment (man vs nature). Unfortunately, a few bad apples can really ruin it for everyone.
    Best line said here.
    Last edited by SpecializedWindsor; 08-27-2012 at 10:06 AM. Reason: typo
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  12. #12
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    Quote Originally Posted by elcaro1101 View Post
    IF YOUR NOT GOING TO PUT IT IN THE TRASH, DON'T BAG THE ****!
    I started a thread about this a couple of months ago, on my ride yesterday I must have saw 25 bags stashed all over the place. What the hell is wrong with people?

  13. #13
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    any conversation about impact is relative.

    you have to have a basis for comparison if you're going to make a comparison.

    what is the basis for comparing the impact of mountain biking?

    impact of mountain bikes on a trail is generally regarded as similar to hiking in degree, but different in type. the studies I've read look at general use trails, not special purpose FR, flow, or DH trails. the construction of a trail is likely to have a greater impact than the continued use of it. but that impact is temporary.

    it's all going to depend on the management goals of the agency. now, in many cases the impact of mountain bikes is poorly understood and land managers have a prohibition in place based on outdated information or incorrect information. showing them the correct information can result in policy changes but depending on the entrenched interests involved, that can take a VERY long time.

  14. #14
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    lowish i guess. I work for an environmental company, and some of it involves water drainage and erosion. But when i think of a big forest with some single-track snaking through, i have a hard time imagining the actually small area that a trail makes up, strongly affecting an entire forest...unless of course, it affects water drainage in some way. i'm sure in most cases it doesnt. Around here, when a trail gets too messy, they block and divert it.
    fap

  15. #15
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    Already proven that bikes have similar impact to hikers. The only place it's high impact is on crytobiotic soil but a shoe on the same soil does similar damage.
    Some idiots claim bikes are high impact but they won't mention logging, horses or quads.
    Google the Pacific Crest Trail and search mountain biking and see the BS that is on the site, if you wanna get angry. They show a 30' line in the mud that the writer claims is trail damage by a mountain bike but just a few riders or hikers would erase the tiny trench. Of course it doesn't show any hoof prints. Looks more like a cyclocross bike tire to me.
    agmtb

  16. #16
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    It depends a lot on the individual rider. It can be very low impact IMO but can also be the opposite. Generalizations thrown out regarding hikers are the exact same ones I've heard about mountain bikers. One should be careful, glass houses and such.

    Low impact, more than skiing less than hiking....
    I hope you are joking about that, because entire mountain tops are cleared for runs. Fun though

  17. #17
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    Quote Originally Posted by J.B. Weld View Post



    I hope you are joking about that, because entire mountain tops are cleared for runs. Fun though
    I was refering to XC skiing, around here the trails are open to horses, bikes, and in the winter skiis....

    Actually the whole area is open to these uses, you can go whereever you want, on XC skiis there is almost no damage at all, once the snow melts.

  18. #18
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    Medium.

    We fall right in between hikers and horses, but we scare both parties more often than they scare us.

    Cars/SUVs/Quads etc are very high level impact, completely different game and conversation.

  19. #19
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    Quote Originally Posted by jeffscott View Post
    I was refering to XC skiing, around here the trails are open to horses, bikes, and in the winter skiis....

    Actually the whole area is open to these uses, you can go whereever you want, on XC skiis there is almost no damage at all, once the snow melts.

    Sorry about jumping the gun on you. When I think of skiing I think downhill. I used to love XC skiing when I was younger and agree that it is very low impact.

  20. #20
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    At our local park the trails close to cyclists and equestrians when it rains over a certain amount in a short period. However, the majority of erosion comes from pedestrians. Part of it is that they tromp around when it's wet, make giant mudholes, widen the trail, and make tons of cutoffs to existing trails. But the biggest reason is pure numbers; there are way more people on foot using the trails than cyclists. But still, the local government and "hiker/nature" groups likes to point the finger at mountain bikers.

    Here's an image to illustrate my point:


    That's "Monkey Face" and in my 10 years of mountain biking I've never seen someone ride them. And for good reason, the trails are sh$t, and there are great alternative trails both above and below. But those other trails are a bit more circuitous and walkers tend to take the shortest distance between two points. These trails cuts are made almost 100% from pedestrians, but yet some local groups decry the "negative impact" mountain bikes have on the trails.

    Bikes are very low impact. Just see what happens to a nice bit of narrow singletrack after one full year of closure: it all but disappears. Give it two years and it will be totally gone. People get so bent out of shape about "erosion" they forget what little impact a dirt trail has on the overall environment. They'd be better off spending their time and efforts into removing invasive species.
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  21. #21
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    It's very low impact, compared to something like a natural occurring fire.

    Conservationists are too extreme, too often.
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  22. #22
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    I think if you stay on the trails you are good. Horses are
    worse and I think hikers are less. However if everyone just
    stays on the trail I think it isn't a problem.

  23. #23
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    If a trail has population pressure, it has to be maintained.

    That is true whether the users are on foot, bikes, horses, or jeeps. The more use, the more maintenance. The more horsepower, the more maintenance.

    I think the IMBA is succeeding because they get it about trail maintenance. Also mountain bikers tend to stay on the trails, and will usually avoid wet trails. That is a big deal. Hikers will hike in all weather. They will widen a trail any time it is inconvenient to stay on the track. Horse people, I just don't get, so can't say.

  24. #24
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    I'll say low impact, like others have said it depends on the amount of traffic the trail sees. Far less damage than my quad does. That's why I stick to logging roads when I ride the quad in the forest. TwoHeadsBrewing got it when he said the trails will completely disappear with no use after a year or two. I've seen this first hand in Lassen National Forest after a couple of years even logging roads will be gone.
    With my goldfish shorts swimming around my toes.

  25. #25
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    Lower impact than a horse. My bike doesn't crap on the trail.
    And yet horses are allowed in wilderness areas, and my bike is not.
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